Posts on NBC4 news director Bob Long's comments about the future of television and on KCAL-9 reporter Mary Beth McDade not recognizing the name of infamous despot Pol Pot prompted some email....
Wow -- this post is so timely in my life right now. Just this week, I decided to stop watching television news because of all the attention afforded to OJ, Britney Spears and other inane celebrities.
Every morning, I would turn on KNBC to watch the local early news, then watch the "Today Show." That ended on Monday. I was so disgusted by the amount of time spent on these people who have no effect on our lives. The "Today Show" spent the first half-hour (or 21 minutes) devoted to OJ and Britney -- the first-half hour is supposed to be for hard news. I used to only listen to NPR in the car, but no more. NPR is now my main source of non-printed news.
I used to work in television news and still have friends at KNBC. I often voice my complaints about the direction of the news and they usually agree, but say their hands are tied. So, I was pleased to hear Bob Long's comments about tabloid coverage in news. But I'm sure if I watch tonight's news, I will see some celebrity or "caught on tape (in another state)" lead the broadcast.
Thank you for including this post.
Makes Bob Long’s comments last week about the relative ignorance (semi-literate was his term, I believe) of the younger generation of newspeople seem prescient, no? The spirits of Murrow, Sevareid and H.V. Kaltenborn must be moaning. If anyone doubts that this unfathomable lack of everyday knowledge is the norm, just watch Jay Leno’s “dummies in the street” interviews (Jaywalking) each week.
I think I’ll go mix a stiff Scotch and water.
Michael J. Furtney
I find it interesting that Bob Long and perhaps other news directors don't seem to get the picture. Maybe they are too close to the problems and issues surrounding the TV news meltdown and simply don't notice. The problems with TV news can be discovered just by watching the local network news programs. They spend too much time, money and effort chasing meaningless stories such as Paris Hilton, etc, and not enough time on the real issues affecting all of us here in L.A.
Also, why do the local news directors send out reporters to stand in a neighborhood when a story has taken place when the reporter doesn't interview anyone about the story? The reporter is there for what reason? It doesn't add anything to the story, and seems like a waste of the station's resources.
The local networks will not change because they fear change and stick to the same old formula which no longer works. The local networks need to get their heads out of the sand and look around to see the changing landscape.
As dismaying as the lack of knowledge on the part of the Channel 2/9 reporter, it pales to the horribly disappointing Sept. 6 NY Times 2008 Olympics story that included a statement that FDR had gone to the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and met with Hitler, based on an assertion from Dana Rohrabacher of all people. (It was quickly corrected the next day with an italicized "not" included for emphasis.) How is it possible that any New York Times reporter (or editor) could not know that Roosevelt never met with Hitler, indeed as President never traveled outside the United States until Cabablanca in 1943 (if you overlook his Nova Scotia rendezvous with Churchill in June 1941)? Any such FDR-Hitler meeting would still be resonating in contemporary conversation, not to mention history books and war-themed movies. Lack of historical knowledge among reporters at any TV station is probably a sine qua non these days, but at the hallowed New York Times?
What is killing TV news is the empty indulgences of news broadcasts. "Happy Talk" news began in my old hometown, New York City, and it has been down-hill since then. Stop the dumb jokes and juvenile chatter.
Kids News put local newscasts to shame. When I want to be entertained I look at entertainment shows. I want to know what is happening in my community, my country, the world. Stop behaving as if we are having a drink or out barbequing. I'm not going to watch because you try to be funny. You insult my intelligence when you believe I cannot pay attention without your gimmickry and foolishness. Also, stop grinning. When you are told you must smile it becomes unnatural - a grin. You do not have to smile [grin] to look pleasant and be believable. When there is a justifiable amusing segment, so be it.
I once saw a piece where the field reporter could not contain himself when giving the report; the anchors could not stop laughing; one of them could not even return to the air until later in the broadcast, and those of us tuning in at home were falling apart because the report was hilarious. These instances you can understand.
I encourage news directors and producers to go back and look at the newscasts of more that 35 to 40 years ago and see how dignified and eloquent the broadcasts were. Vanilla you say? Then be satisfied to lose your industry. Quality can be diminished, not destroyed, but mediocrity implodes. You will not hear them utter "hey" or "you guys" [unless referring to males] or, "there's two...." These newspeople were wordsmiths. Trash TV and the Internet are destroying quality newscasts, because when profit is paramount nothing remains sacred. Not even the English language.
I believe, in your description of the conversation with the air head reporter, that you intended to refer to the robber as a "perp," as in perpetrator instead of "prep."
[Indeed. It's in the original blog item I picked up. Thanks - ed.]