Friday, October 23, 2009

Our top story tonight

Local news. National news. They each drive me crazy...yet I've faithfully watched each since I was old enough to comprehend that a war was going on in Vietnam. Each possesses its own brand of obnoxiousness unique to its medium. Let's begin with the local brand:

1) They love logos. Whether it's "Winter Blast 2001," or "Standoff in Tukwila," or "Fender Bender at Seventh and Olive," each report is preceded by a shiny, 3D graphic treatment, combined with an ominous soundtrack.
2) They strive to make a non-story into a dramatic event. If "Winter Blast 2001" fails to materialize, they copter up to some peak in the Yukon Territory just to display the snow accumulating in the Aqua-Netted hair of some cub reporter. Their lead statement is something like, "We're here in Skagway Alaska at the front edge of a potentially devastating Arctic blast to the Puget Sound area, a mere 1200 miles from where I stand."
3) The local news anchor is compelled to banter with the weather guy at the news desk. "Hey, Steve, I hope you deal us up some sun for the weekend...heh, heh!" Just one of these times, I wish that Steve would say, "Hey, Dennis. You know what? I don't control the weather. But you, however, do control what you're wearing from your suit coat down, which today is just a Speedo and some brown socks."
4) They don't report news. They talk about fires and puppies and drinking lots of water when it's hot outside.

On to our national coverage:
1) There's so much happening on the screen. A "crawler" along the bottom tells you news  that the person at the desk isn't saying, or maybe is. At the top left are stock prices; at the top right are astrological forecasts. I enjoy customizing my TV to display subtext for the hearing impaired just to provide maximum confusion and anxiety.
2) Experts who answer questions with questions. Often, especially on cable news shows, a so-called "senior analyst" is brought in to shed some light on a situation too complex for the viewer to comprehend. And more frequently than not, the expert leaves us even more confused. Here's an example:
News Anchor: "General Johnsssson, what do you feel should be the President's next strategic move in Afghanistan?"
General Johnsssson: "What do I feel the President should do? Should he scale down our troop levels and create a leaner and more mobile security force? Maybe. Should he use psychological tactics to win over the hearts and minds of the tribal elders? I don't know. Do I think the United States is part of Europe? No, I don't."
3) Experts who make a statement, only to completely rebuf that statement. Example:
"Yes, I think the president is making significant gains in attaining world peace. He's definitely on the right track and he has my full support. That said, I believe he's the lead horseman of the Apocolypse, and the world will soon drown in a lake of fire."

Okay, there I go again—more cynicism. Do I need to halt these negative analyses? Maybe. Will I? Probably not.

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