Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Terms of Disservice

High Cotton

"On Special Assignment", it almost sounds sexy when the hair-do's say it. But never before have two words teamed up to reveal so little. In fact, it's only slightly less deceptive than "We have crews on the way.", which incidentally means "We just found about this from our competitor are now scrambling every employee we can get to answer the phone."... But you knew that. "On Assignment", however is excessively nebulous. In fact, it's worse than that, it's (GULP!) producer-speak. You know, pruh-doo-ser speek: those arrhythmic sentences some pasty cube-dweller feeds into the Anchortron 5000 every afternoon around four. Here, I'll give you an example. Say the houselights rise on your local news studio, but there's a certain silhouette missing. Up pops some bubble headed bleach blonde with just a hint of glee in her delivery:   
"Good Evening, I'm Dawn Juwannadoomee, Glenn DimpleChin is "on special assignment." 
Uh-Huh. First of all, could you be less specific? Only if you said " on the planet". As it is, good ole Glenn could be just about anywhere doing just about anything.  So how about some truthiness?

"Good Evening, I'm Dawn Juwannadoomee, Glenn DimpleChin is pacing around a cotton field while he screams at his West Coast based agent on a station-owned cell phone." 


"Good Evening, I'm Dawn Juwannadoomee, Glenn DimpleChin is still horking down free lobster meat at the Moose Lode while his photographer trades cigarettes for interviews at the Methadone Clinic."

Very nice!

"Good Evening, I'm Dawn Juwannadoomee, Glenn DimpleChin is... Well, to be honest folks, we don't know where Glenn is. He peeled put of here just after five p.m. talking about some dancer he met out at a club by the airport. Ya know, Glenn's been a large part of the Eleven Alert News Fleet for darn near thirty years now, man does what we damn well pleases. We're just glad he no longer demands a promo every time he brakes for a yellow light. Was a time he hijacked a live truck so we could broadcast a remote of him giving his Lhasa Apso a sponge bath... " 

Whoa, whoa, ease up. You're gonna break the Fourth Wall. Go with something more generic, like "On Special Assignment". Our research shows viewers love that stuff...


Anonymous said...

Once worked at a station where the term "special assignment" meant the lucky crew was getting an actual stamp in their passport.

Those days are gone though.

Anonymous said...

"Special assignment" used to mean, gasp, actual journalism, rather than the producer pablum passed off on the masses by incontinent consultants. Yep, as extinct as the Dodo.

Bill Mecca said...

At my old station, all it meant was they had the night off. why they couldn't say that was beyond me. Probably the reason I'm out of the business.

Truth... you can't handle the truth!

Truth was that anchor was the stereotypical hairdo, newsreader whatever term you prefer.

Don Rushmore said...

Is Dawn Juwannadoomee related to Penelope Parkenfarqher?