Happy View Year, Vegas.
Another 52 weeks of chronicling pitfalls, pratfalls and free falls -- as well as the upstanding, outstanding and astounding -- on your locally tuned boob tube. (Given 21st-century technology, you can update "boob tube" to "digital doohickey," "cable enabler" or, in the original Latin for overstimulated TV lovers, "plasma orgasma.")
Here are some topics Mediaology will mine in 2009:
Color TV: How and in what ratios are whites and nonwhites depicted in local newscasts -- authority figures or criminals, head shots or mug shots, victim or victimized, middle-class or poor? -- and how might our new president color the balance of coverage?
Promotion sickness: Are any of our locals splicing video news releases -- prepackaged footage featuring subtle product promotion for a company or service under the guise of legit interviews and reporting -- into news stories? Is that talking head a source or a shill? As the news is being told, are we being sold?
Cents and sensibilities: Where do your dollars supporting Vegas PBS go? An outreach program here, a Tony Sacca special there, concerts starring octogenarian doo-wop singers everywhere?
Government access-orizing: How well do the local political process and discussion of community issues unfold through the programming on KCLV Cox Cable Channel 2? Do you watch it or would your remote die of shock if it actually landed on it?
Analyze this, that and the other: Percentage of sad news versus glad news, judgment selecting lead stories, news that affects a handful (crime, accidents) versus news that affects the hordes (government, education), gender stereotyping in stories and, in a special investigative report, which station's staff spends the most on Clairol Nice 'n Easy.
Cox populi: Among the football playbook of channels (CMT-HD/ESPN2-HD/HGTV-HD -- Hike!), which should Cox Cable send into the lineup and which should be benched faster than Michael Vick with a pocketful of pork Snozzles?
Prescription of chill pills, please: Which local reporters give us news stories and which give us nervous disorders? Which embrace the MO that breathless is best, hype is heavenly and a story is underwhelming unless it's overstated?
Oh, what a tangled World Wide Web: How well have local stations balanced on-air news with Web site info and tapped into online and cell phone technology so you can see Fox 5's Mike Doria out-ham Spam almost anywhere?
Pinko-Fascist news at 6: Media bias -- legit rallying cry or rallying of crybabies? Are liberal/conservative slants evident on local newscasts via what's covered or not covered? Who's interviewed or not interviewed? What's included or excluded? Footage that's flattering or unflattering? Hiring or snubbing Sarah Palin if she returns to sportscasting in the new segment, "Blowing Bullwinkle's Brains Out With Caribou Barbie"?
Or: Maybe we'll just identify which air personalities most need to trim their nose hairs.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0256.