Jan 16, 2009

Wed: I don't like The Evening News

40-ish years ago, people would go about their day to day lives with very little idea of what else was going on in the world. Sure they probably checked out the newspaper with their breakfast, but that would just tell them what had happened yesterday, not what was going on today. Enter the wonderful Evening News.

Suddenly people had an amazing re-cap of the day, delivered by people who really sounded like they knew what they were talking about. To top it off, sometimes they even included some video to go along with the news stories. It basically blew that morning newspaper away. After sometime however; that Evening News slowly morphed into comically bad parody of its previous self, to the point where a lot of people -myself obviously included- just find it unwatchable.

I have to start with the anchors. As near as I can tell, the anchor used to be a person that came off as a seasoned, wise, almost professor like figure, who would take the events of the world and talk about them in an educated way. They also seemed to assume that the people watching had been following the news at least somewhat (usually a fair assumption cause THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE ON) and could talk as such. The Anchor was someone that you felt always knew what to do in any situation. That standard seems to fallen quite a bit. The Anchors today really just seem to be above average looking people with a clean delivery.

Can you read?
Are you ugly?
mm No.
Do you have any idea what the European Union is about?
That’s a railroad in monopoly right?
You’re perfect.

I know that’s being pretty harsh, but that’s how they come off most of the time. At there best they appear to be slowly working on stand up comedy material, at worst they seem just as surprised about the news as they read as we do (really this is the first time you read that story, shouldn’t you have given a quick once over earlier so you could speak intelligently about it?). I wish they wouldn’t rely so heavily on the teleprompter, but they have to. When they try and wing a line or comment without it; best case usually some awkward unintentional comedy ensues, or worst case they try and make a joke-y segue to sports that has everyone fake laughing uncomfortably hard. Either way, it’s usually cringe inducing. Like this:

The news is also inconvenient. I’m not really ready to end my day at 10pm; I don’t want to wrap it up. That 10pm cemented slot really can’t compete with the 24 hour news channels or internet news which is updated all the time and available whenever. It’s almost like they’re blind to the existence of these other competitors and just plugging away with a losing formula. Change something, focus heavily on local news, spend more time and get more in depth on the stories, follow up with them in the following days, do anything to separate the local 10pm news from a bad 1 hour version of the news I can already watch all day long.

There is one thing they do try and do differently; they sensationalize small things to scare you into watching the news. For example there was the flesh eating bacteria that 3 people contracted a couple years ago. The news crews were all down at the local gyms showing how many germs there are and freaking people out about “Superbugs”. There may have been some validity to the story, but why not take the power of media and use it to explain the reality of the chances of them acquiring that flesh eating bacteria (which isn’t 100% fatal like they let you believe) are microscopically small, then calmly explain how to make them smaller. There’s no need to create un-educated panic. Those kind of out of proportion stories drive me nuts.

Interestingly the nightly news seems to be dying away, something that is attributed to the rise of the internet. For all its current faults I still feel like it has its place, if they would just have interesting, wise, maybe even ugly people tell a more complete story without adding craziness just to get a rise out of folks. In essence get back to basics.

1 comment:

  1. I think the worst exaggeration I've heard was right after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I heard on the news about a bridge collapsing here, and I thought, "Well, I have to watch this." Turns out it was a bridge that was still being built, and thus, there were no civilians on or around it. Stupid news.