New Year's yields empty-calorie coverage


Drunk on ... Jim Snyder?

Hammered after guzzling Dave Courvoisier? Soused after imbibing Tricia Kean? Blotto after chug-a-lugging interviews like one in which KVVU-TV, Channel 5's Elizabeth Watts asked a musician about his Fremont Street performance?

Him: "It was awesome." Her: "Awesome. Have you been to Las Vegas for New Year's before?" Him: "No." Her: "What do you think? Awesome?" Him: "Yeah, it's great." Her: "Awesome." ... Sorry, Your Awesomeness. Not awed.

Fortunately, Fox-5 didn't subject us to twoooo hoooours-plus of nattering New Year's Eve coverage, unlike KSNV-TV, Channel 3 (Marie Mortera nibbling on finger food!) and KLAS-TV, Channel 8 (Aaron Drawhorn swamped by a bunch of half-in-the-bag screamers!) while KTNV-TV, Channel 13 put us through merely one hour-plus (highlighted by Steve Wolford straining to smile while grousing about the cold!), thankfully.

(We should note, in all fairness, that News-3 won the Nielsen wrasslin' from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. That addresses the horse race competition -- someone had to win, after all -- not the coverage quality.)

Extend a dollop of sympathy to holiday reporters. Dispatched around town -- Fremont, Caesars Palace, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Foundation Room, the Miracle Mile Shops, Rhumbar -- they tap dance faster than Mr. Bojangles to stretch reports that amount to "Everyone's having a blast!" as packs of pickled hyenas shove into camera range behind them, flashing an array of finger salutes.

Entertainment Capital of the World, overstuffed with A-1 performers and watch-me! celebrities and this is what local viewers -- most grateful to leave Strip madness to snockered tourists -- want to watch for two hours? Why not some quality Vegas voyeurism, at least?

Beautiful People Central on an ideal night for beautiful people-watching and we're treated to Drew Karedes in a New Year's hat shouting over a Fremont Street din, Tricia Kean tooting a party favor, couch-bound Jim Snyder and a kibbitzing Dan Ball. Interviews and performance snippets of not-the-real-thing tribute bands as the network specials mine Las Vegas for shows and sightings from genuine stars such as Jay-Z, Coldplay and Rihanna.

Stations are largely reduced to hours of wahoo! hooey. Boozy partiers make for snoozy television, whether in Vegas or Vermont. Vegas' visual va-va-voom delays the dreariness, but not as minutes tick into hours.

Moolah's a factor in pre-empting their networks for this. Stations earn more ad dollars from local programming, grabbing all the cheese, rather than sharing it with their network. Beyond the buck is the perfect storm of modern media meeting modern Vegas -- each built on excess. Quantity and mass measure both. Necessity and selectivity? Not so much.

Normal newscast coverage is appropriate, and broadcasting midnight fireworks is a must. Padding out the prime-time schedule with network reruns or syndicated shows would've been preferable before a fireworks cut-in. You-are-there TV -- entertainment and information dissolving into voyeurism -- doesn't equal good TV.

"Complete coverage" they love to tout? Empty-calorie coverage. Under these circumstances, "complete" could take just 10 to 15 minutes, not 120 to 135.

Plus -- no offense, news folks -- don't we spend enough time in your company the other 364½ days of the year?

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

 

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