Thursday, December 06, 2012

Burning Down the House

The Hof
Though logic would dictate he turn around, I can assure you, Steve Hofbauer knows exactly where to point that thing. In fact, this gentle brute forced me to dig a little deeper every time he rolled up on scene. From grabbing shots before I could think of them to convincing witnesses to emote in his direction, I could never relax when "The Hof" was afoot. Weirdest of all, I liked the guy! Maybe it's because we share the same lineage. Perhaps it's because he could probably snap me in half. Whatever the reason, we bonded many times over - when we weren't trying to gouge each others eyes out.

These days, however, Hof sightings are pretty rare. Not so long ago, dude got really smart and left the business. Now he can be found performing his magic in the hallowed halls of Academia, where I hope the eggheads appreciate what they got. See, Steve has the instincts and experience borne of a million deadlines met. He's shot every story there is a half dozen different ways and as far as I know, he chews his food with his mouth closed. Why, you'd think a newsroom would do whatever it took to keep such an apex predator in place.   

You'd be wrong.

Now, I'm SURE Hof's old station hated to see him go and from all that I can tell their commercials aren't bumping into each other for lack of content. But I truly believe we'll look back someday at the mass egress of people like Steve as the beginning of the end of news as we know it. Yes, there will always be pretty faces on screen recapping the day's events, but understand this: local TV News is hemorrhaging talent like never before.  When a veteran leaves, they're replaced (if at all) by fresh young faces who are expected to do it ALL for far fewer escudos. That they do - and it shows. 

Will station's go dark as a result? Probably not. But the journalistic services they provide will become shockingly shallow, until the very idea of gleaning anything useful from local TV news will seem as quaint as that old pocket watch you hocked to help buy an iPad. It didn't have to be this way, but quantum leaps in technology and a dearth of ad dollars have all but enabled our assisted suicide. If that doesn't concern you, you're probably my children's' age - which, ironically, is just a few years junior to that of your average local TV reporter these days.

Is this the rambling of a fellow fossil? A case of hand-wringing from a guy who can't help but read the writing on the wall?  One last battle cry from the surviving member of a doomed platoon? Yes. Yes, it is. But if you're gonna take my fancycam, you'll have to pry it from my leathery grip, for unlike The Hofinater here, I gots no place to go. Besides, I still dig the view. And while my contemporaries may be exiting stage left, right and every direction in between, I'm not quite prepared to go make brag tapes, widget demos or commencement montages just yet... YET.

Now get off my lawn!


Liz Palka said...

Hof is the best of the best! He'll still be making a difference to college students trying to get a start in the business. Elon is so lucky to have him!

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