Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why Does My Local TV News Suck?

Have you ever really payed attention to the quality of your local TV news?

The next time you're catching a televised news broadcast before or after dinner (5-6 PM), or resting in bed before going to sleep (10-11 PM), pay attention to the types of stories your local news station reports on. It doesn't matter which affiliate you choose -- CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox. Just pick one and focus.

Yep... local news sucks.

Since I live in a suburb of Greensboro, North Carolina, I have over-the-air access to local television news from a few different sources.

  • WFMY CBS News 2
  • WGHP Fox 8
  • WXLV ABC 45
  • WTVD ABC 11 (Raleigh-Durham)
I'm in a unique location where I'm out of range for my local NBC affiliate, but pick up the ABC station out of Raleigh to the east. Go figure.

No matter which broadcast I might happen to see, the routine is always the same -- lead off with the supposed "big news" of the day, then follow it up with ten minutes of fluff pieces. Finally, close the broadcast out with ten minutes of sports scores and highlights. Fluff pieces are stories that bear little to no importance, but are trumped up as having pertinence for the sake of dramatization. Here's an example that one of my local stations recently reported on:

(click me)

Now please explain to me -- HOW IN THE HOLY HELL IS THIS PERTINENT TO MY LIFE? Is it a sad thing that an old couple had their wedding rings stolen? Of course. Is it important enough to put on the evening news and consume nearly 7% of the entire broadcast? No way! This is one of a near endless stream of fluff stories that pad out the local news. Here's another example:

(click me)

Yet again, another non-relevant story that doesn't deserve two minutes, let alone two seconds, on an evening news broadcast. Basically, someone got paid a check. If that's evening news-caliber content... hell, I process tons of financial transactions every day. Let's do some reporting on my life.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Local news is filled with very little actual news -- it's all fluff about weddings, automobile accidents, cops arresting someone unimportant, donuts, celebrities, how to find the best deal on tennis shoes, what apps you should be downloading and much more useless garbage!

Concurrently, the national news broadcasts from the major networks are terrible; I wrote them off ages ago. They're bought and paid for by their sponsors. The only "news" you'll see there is what they want you to see -- just more mainstream crap lacking content and with little substance. Yet, local news actually has the opportunity to break away from that sour tradition. News stations, especially those in smaller television markets, have the chance to do groundbreaking journalism that actually digs deep into important stories. Why not provide information on:
  • local political movements
  • city or county policy measures
  • zoning changes
  • law updates from the state legislature
  • uncover information about crooked politicians
  • send reporters abroad for international events
  • cover environmental issues and accidents
  • investigate corrupt businesses
  • breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine
There's a plethora of relevant information and events that can and will influence our lives -- the leg work just has to be done. The problem? Program directors and station managers don't want to invest the time, energy and resources into fulfilling the promise of actual journalism. They want their reporters to pass along the same tired crap that every other news station will recycle... what's on the local school lunch menu, celebrity sightings, pointless cooking segments. Of course, let's not forget how important all those high school or college football and basketball scores are -- how dare I speak ill of it!

Guess what -- your local sports scores are crap. They mean nothing. NOTHING! If I want to check on the score of a sporting event (whether local or professional), I have this little thing CALLED THE INTERNET!

And don't even get me started on weather reporting. Around these parts, a few inches of snow puts an absolute grinding halt to everything. We recently had some fairly substantial snow fall in the area and that's ALL the news broadcasts covered. Why they felt the need to do satellite remotes with reporters freezing their asses off in the snow baffles me. I don't need to watch douche bags sledding down interstate ramps or building snow men.

The one part of the local news that I don't place any blame are the reporters. They got into journalism to do actual, groundbreaking work. I can only imagine the look on the face of a first-day reporter. Surely, they wonder why they spent many years in college and many thousands of dollars on a journalism or broadcasting degree to report on a local housefire. Talk about draining the life out of your own soul.

At this point, why do they even bother to call it "news". Instead, just call a spade a spade -- its merely a local pop culture magazine.

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