TV news suffering from Repetitive Story Syndrome


They do TV news. We've got a few views about their news.

So let's just cannonball right into the Vegas media pool:

Gee, how they gibber-jabber -- at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 11, 11:30, noon, 12:30, 4, 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 10 and 11. Weekday newscasts begin or babble on at each of those stops on the clock among channels 3, 5, 8 and 13.

Feel fabulously informed? The 2007 Project for Excellence in Journalism insists while local viewers "may have had more choices than ever for where to find news, that does not mean they had more news to choose from. The news agenda for the year was, in fact, quite narrow, dominated by a few major general topic areas."

Saturation breeds repetition. Relatively cheap to produce and revenue-rich, newscasts procreate like bunnies on a bender, infecting locals with Repetitive Story Syndrome.

A noon-1 p.m. KVBC-TV, Channel 3, newscast last week illustrated the impulse when three pieces -- on accused pot-puffing Highway Patrol Sgt. Edward Latin, James Carter Jr.'s acquittal on murder charges and child sexual abuse allegations against a man and his mom -- ate up airtime in both half-hours. Major minutes squandered that could have been funneled toward additional "Coming Up Later on News 3/Eyewitness News/Action News/Fox-5 News" teasers, right? How often will they tell us that they'll soon tell us what they promise to tell us before they tell us?

And is this such a volatile weather market that we crave all that meteorological minutiae? This isn't, say, New York, where last weekend massive winds triggered riptides that swept some swimmers out to sea, several missing or dead.

That's newsworthy weather. Not that nature doesn't fiddle with us, especially hellacious heat and downpours that turn streets into streams. But a climatological soliloquy on a two-degree diff between Vegas and Henderson? Does that decide the issue of pants or shorts tomorrow?

Self-importance rarely gets more self-important than "Problem Solver Traffic" (KTNV-TV, Channel 13) or "Traffic Solutions" (KVVU-TV, Channel 5). Try this: "Here's The Accidents and Lane Closures, Now Figure Out Your Route Yourself and Keep Your Middle Finger in Neutral and Your Uzi in the Trunk Traffic Report."

But savor the Yogi-isms, such as these Channel 13 chucklers: "We'll have a live report, but for now I'm reporting live" (reporter Ben Deci). Or, "We'll never really be out of the picture until we're entirely out of the picture" (meteorologist Bryan Scofield).

Yes, the above observations are about practices as permanent as an anchor's hair mousse, but consider this opening salvo a columnist's catharsis, and by extension, maybe your own. Mediaology will also explore meatier media matters in TV, local radio and publications.

As for this maiden Mediaology, borrowing the tactic at the top of this column, it also appears on pages 5E, 4A, 2D, 7B and twice on 6C.

Just kidding, kids.

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

 

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