Oct 282007
Authors: Ryan Nowell

I get why local news broadcasts have been cutting to Rockies coverage every five seconds.

It’s a big deal. Their first World Series in a decade, people care, go home team, hurrah Rocktober, all that.

But having watched a lot of local news, I get the impression that all the fervor has less to do with the new teams’ enthusiasm than it does their relief.

Thirty minutes of baseball coverage in an hour long broadcast cuts a lot of slack, and as anyone who tunes in frequently can attest, slack is about all they do anymore.

Depending on the network news to inform you of anything beyond daily car accidents, 7-11 heists and warehouse fires has become a laughable expectation.

There is such a dearth of hard journalism among major news outlets that anyone trying to develop an understanding of this country on a strict diet of mainstream fare would come away with a bundle of disconnected political factoids, adorable zoo baby anecdotes and sweeping, intimate knowledge of Hollywood’s most useless human beings.

Information is never compiled. All attention is paid to the latest elements of a story, but rarely are we given any context.

Story: a senator has a fit over healthcare reform. Their voting record, their issue with the bill in question, who proposed the bill, why and an analysis of the case for and against it, remain a complete mystery.

Instead, we get their name, state, party and a couple seconds of their red-faced tirade on the senate floor, assuming they weren’t involved in a recent sex scandal, then we’ll get a lengthy recap, some stock walking-to-the-limo-after-the-indictment footage and possibly some armchair Freudian analysis.

The latest indicator that it’s all sliding closer to self-parody comes with the advent of the two-person weather team. It would seem that as the rate of incompetence among anchors increases, so to does America’s insatiable hunger for weather reports.

For years now, the lone weatherman has had a hard enough time justifying his existence, which involves stretching two minutes worth of news out over an hour and occasionally throwing on a rain-slicker and lashing himself to something.

Now it’s been decided that the person on the news team that barely even has a job desperately needs another person on deck to handle that dense floodgate of knowledge that is the weather desk. Clearly too much for one person handle. Now they have someone to tag in if their arm gets tired pointing at the Doppler radar.

Perhaps the local networks are only following suit, though. Their big brothers, the 24-hour news networks, have become equally vacuous.

Fox News is a soapbox for out-sized personalities to pitch their two cents as objective fact.

MSNBC plays like an extended commercial for their parent network’s Must-See Thursday line-up.

CNN somehow thought it would placate accusations of liberal bias by hiring trailer C.H.U.D. Nancy Grace. How anyone thought them politically astute enough to accuse them of a bias is hard to fathom, though. I don’t know where they would find time to weigh in between all the car chases and kidnapped white girls.

To close, here are a few real samples of our dogged journalists hard at work.

From Fox 31:

“We recently received this footage of an angry circus elephant rampage in the Philippines. We warn our viewers, this video is dramatic and disturbing.”

“Well, he should have thought about that before he got all that body art and decided to allegedly commit murder.” (Senior crime analyst, referencing a suspect who claimed his arrest was based solely on his appearance.)

“Junior high administrators are seeking to end school violence with the help of a very special motorcycle.”

9 News also had a contribution:

“Denver also has a cat that can sense death. Tonight at ten.”

Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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