Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Enemy Is Us

I have seen the future of TV News and it rattles me to the core. I speak not of declining audience shares, shrinking budgets or emerging alternative platforms. Instead, I refer to a disturbing trend rippling through the more desperate newsrooms of our fair land: The Ancillary Talent Dance-Off. For those of you whose local stations still pretend to be credible, I'll be brief. From Sacramento to Cincinnati, otherwise sensible weather and traffic personnel have been setting aside their charts and graphs just long enough to pop and lock. That's right, your weekend weather guy is doing the robot - and judging from that white boy underbite, he's been waiting for this chance all his life. Oh and that totally slammin' backbeat? It's no drum machine; just the corpse of Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave.

Dude, I'm no prude. I got a silly streak and a foul mouth and I regularly use them both to warn anchors and interns about taking themselves too seriously. I've been doing this for far too long to consider any of it sacred. Nor am I innocent of assinine behavior in the name of news. (After all, I did spend the closing weeks of the 20th Century producing frantic reports on the world-changing certainty of Y2K.) And i'm also aware that weathermen have feigned wackiness since the days of felt forecast boards and smiley face sun stickers. But whereas your father's meteorologist told a few stale jokes before getting to the high pressure systems, today's forecasters and traffic gurus are wrapping up their scientific presentations by busting out the funky chicken. Or is The Forbidden Dance? I can never tell, for no sooner can a WASPy traffic nerd throw a few gang signs than I'm filled with the overwhelming urge to wretch.

Perhaps I doth protest too much. Hey, they're just trying to inject a little levity into the daily grind. It isn't like their mainline talent, right? I mean - a couple of the offending dance squads broadcast only on something called the CW(?). I don't know what that is either, but the more I think about it, the better I feel about being offended. After all, this kind of chicanery is the polar opposite of the kind of television I produce. Whereas I seek to be invisible as I tell others stories, these John Stewart wannabes want nothing more than for you to watch them shake dat rump. Have at it, but tell me this : Where do we go from here? Sure, it's easy to slip away from the news desk and join the traffic hottie in the Macarena, but how do you get back? How do you sit back down and tell viewers about the plane crash, the dead kid or even the traffic snarl without appearing as an unequivocal ass? My guess is you don't.

I mean, what's next? Ya gonna send some smarmy reporter over to the homeless encampement with a case of beer? Hmm? Oh ... my bad.

10 comments:

amanda said...

Its sad and make the news hard to take "seriously" (as if you can say that at times), but viewers eat it up.

Heck around here, some viewers have voiced the idea of an "anchor dance-off" between the stations in town.

Duff said...

I've got nothing against a wacky old weatherman, and I certainly have nothing against a traffic hottie, but the CW's newscasts certainly get under my skin. Guess that's what happens when you have to fill a 4 hour local news morning show. "Hey tell that hottie to keep dancing, we got hours left and no content!"

Duff said...

PS- it's good to see that the case of beer incident hasn't gone away.

Anonymous said...

All a part of the huge trend towards blending news and entertainment.

But be either a comedian, or a journalist.

Don't make me try to figure it out.

HockeyPat

Woo Hoo, I'm back Stuart. I don't know how.

Brenda Bowers said...

Nothing new here. In fact, the "colonies" are far behind the trend. European countries have been offering strip tease weather reports and nude anchors for years now. It is sad that business is so bad inducements like this have to be used to get people to care about what is happening in the world. BB

Ike said...

I'm bummed by this trend.

If it keeps up, who will bother subscribing to Fark, when it's being broadcast for free?

Adam Butler said...

I hate to admit it, but I loved Mark Mathis when he did weather down here in Charlotte. When they had him, they destroyed everyone at ten. Nobody depended on him for the weather, though.

Ike said...

Adam, I've worked with Mark. (Same station, if you must know. Not just from the shop across town...)

To say he is as dumb as a brick is an insult to bricks. And he wasn't even that funny. I don't know how that came about later, but I'll leave that to the imagination.

Kerry said...

Hmm I gotta say, I was smiling pretty hard at the 'dance party Friday'. I guess weather and traffic can get away with those things a lot more though.

Anonymous said...

Since you are holier than thou...
the name is JON Stewart.