TV Sucks – Part IV

Oatmeal at 11

If you work in a newsroom as a reporter, you know that the most exciting moment is when you come back from a big story, enter the newsroom and turn to your colleagues and say ” you won’t believe what I just saw”.

Newsrooms are exiting.

The news business is exciting.

That is why we go into it.

So why can’t we capture that excitement when we produce the Evening News?

Why does TV News look like an interview with an insurance salesman or an investment banker – someone in a suit behind a big desk. What kind of journalist wears a $3000 suit and sits behind a big wooden desk? None!

We dessicate the news. We take all the immediacy and interest and adventure out of it. What we present every evening is diluted oatmeal – boring pap. Talking head – boring pap, talking head, boring pap. It’s a wonder that the ratings are even what they are, crappy though they are. Who cares!

This does not mean that news and journalism and newsrooms aren’t exciting. They are. It just means that we have singularly failed to capture that excitement and translate it to our audience.

Here’s an experiment.

Let’s say you saw a shooting on your way home.

You come into the kitchen, your wife is at the table. You sit down with her and she says, ‘anything interesting happen today?’

You lean across the table and say, “you won’t believe what I saw on the way home..”

She is all ears.

That is what a normal person does.

Unless you work in news.

If you work in news, you see the shooting on the way home. You come home and sit at the dining room table with your wife. She says to you, ‘anything interesting happen today?”

You sit ramrod straight in your $3000 suit and Hermes tie and say in your best ‘anchor’ voice, “More than 2500 people are victims of random violence in our fair city. ~But tonight, Jack Johnson became more than just a statistic”.

She looks at you and says, “what the f**k are you talking about? Are you off your prozac again”.

No one …NO ONE …talks like that. Except news anchors and reporters. No one.

No one tells a great story over a dinner table like that to their wife, their brother, their parents or their best friend. No one. Except us.

Well listen, our viewers – they are our wives, our husbands, our brothers, our parents, our best friends. Who do you think is watching?

So the next time one of your reporters comes running into the newsroom saying ‘you won’t believe what just happened to me!’, turn on a camera. Get out video camera and shoot it just the way he or she tells it to their colleagues around the desk. Right when it is happening. When it is exciting. Then put that video online. Right away.

Now that is something you’re gonna wanna see.

…Oatmeal at 11.


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