Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nightly News Wastes Our Time

Friday's Nightly News may have been the worst newscast ever. That's a difficult determination to make, since there are so many awful Nightly News broadcasts. But Friday's broadcast may have been the one.

Of course, the broadcast began with more exploitative stories from Joplin, MO. That was to be expected. And of course, Brian completely abandoned the role of objective reporter and took on the role of emotional participant. He began the Joplin story by telling us about the "sad process of remembering over 130 lost souls." And he ended the story by saying, "What incredible spirit after what they've been through." That's reporting? We also got a 2:10 story about how the Blue Angels flying team did not participate in the Naval Academy graduation ceremony. In what alternate universe is this news? As usual, it's just a case of WBW--Whatever Brian Wants. He reports on anything he wants, regardless of how little news value it has. Then it was time for the piece de resistance--a 3:45 bonanza of all the stories Nightly News missed this week. I'll let Brian describe it. "For our team here, this week started with a Sunday night flight to Joplin, Missouri and you saw our live coverage of what we saw when we got there and what those good people in that great town are going through right now. As a result, it was an awful week dominated by that relentlessly sad coverage and the loss of life. Because we had to devote so much coverage to it, a lot of other news happened that we didn't have time to mention. When we talk about our web site or that new iPad app we're so proud of--this is what we often mean--the stories we run out of time to air. But tonight in short order we thought we'd catch up with the stories that got away from all of us this past week." Wow. There's a lot going on there. First of all, Brian is the one who determines what airs on Nightly News. So if Nightly News missed out on stories this week, it's no one's fault but Brian's. He said, "we had to devote so much coverage to it," but that's not true. No one at Nightly News had to do anything. The choice was fully his. He's the one who clogged up Nightly News with all those unnecessary Joplin stories. He's the one who milked Joplin for emotional value. He did that for the ratings of course, and because he once lived there (as he mentioned several dozen times this week). Then there was another shameless plug for the Nightly News iPad app. The app is just a way to deliver Nightly News to a larger audience so they can get higher ratings. It's a ratings gimmick and nothing else. And when we finally got to see these "missed" stories, they were presented to us as if they were on an iPad! How unbelievably shameless! Some of these stories were legitimate: Pres. Obama in Europe, Bill Clinton chatting with Paul Ryan, the democratic congressional victory in upstate New York, the Supreme Court determination of overcrowding in California prisons. Fair enough. But here are the other stories that Brian felt were so important they had to be reported: A dog in Alabama found its way home three weeks after being carried away in a tornado. News? I don't think so. A Medal of Honor winner died. This is not news. No one cares about this except Brian. He serves on the Medal of Honor Foundation Board of Directors, so this is just a way for him to promote that organization and shamelessly try to encourage donations. And what a huge conflict of interest--an anchor reporting on an organization on whose board he sits! Then Brian said, "And mind you, we chose not to show you the YouTube video of the mother cat hugging her kitten who was having a nightmare or the guy practicing a speech that was ruined by his cat or the beagle that can catch a ball because this is a serious broadcast, after all." Naturally, Brian showed those YouTube videos as he was saying this. Apparently, he thought he was being funny. But by calling Nightly News a serious broadcast, he was actually being ironic. These are the stories Brian didn't get to report this week? Here are some more: George W. Bush nearly getting hit with a foul ball at a Texas Rangers game. Pres. Obama drinking a Guinness in Ireland. Is Brian serious? His newscast certainly isn't.

Here are some of the stories Nightly News DID report this week: On Wednesday, we saw a one-minute story about Oprah's last show. On Thursday, we were treated to a 25-second piece about otters swimming at the San Diego Zoo. That same day, Brian took 45 seconds to shamelessly promote the new Nightly News iPad app and he took 25 seconds to tell us that on Memorial Day, we should remember those who died. Since when is it part of a newsreaders job description to tell the viewers what they should be thinking? There was also an inexplicable story about a man who became disoriented while flying a small plane. With help from his wife and the control tower, he landed safely. No one was hurt. Nothing happened. This was a non-event. But this story was given 2:25 of air time. And on Friday, there was the Blue Angels story (2:10) and a "Making A Difference" story about Woodstock personality Wavy Gravy (2:45). Altogether, these stories took up 10 minutes of news time. But Brian has the nerve to complain that there wasn't enough time this week to show all the news? I can only imagine what would have happened if he did have enough time. We would have seen three minutes on sleeping kittens and two minutes on a beagle catching a ball.

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