I am mostly finished with local television news. Just can’t watch it anymore. I spend enough time trapped in inane conversations and watching the news has become something like being at a dull cocktail party. The offenses to intelligence are many, but the recurring little annoyances offend the most.
Take the weather, for example. It is de riguer that any person behind the news desk be a weather whiner. I’m not talking about the weather reporters necessarily, but the news so-called news folks. I live in Minnesota. The weather here is varied and interesting and not always “nice.” But the youngsters behind the weather desk whimper about clouds and cool breezes as if they were stationed on a wind-blown island off the coast of Antarctica. You know…I get it. Cool people like balmy spring holiday weather. Great. But you’re on the god damned television news in Minnesota. Please shut up about the weather.
As a corollary, there is the offense of hyping up the weather to a level that would make Jim Cantore (it is all his fault) proud. Keep in mind that this is 2011. How many times have you heard a weather story punctuated with an observation like “we haven’t been that cold around here since 2008”? Uh-huh. Right. Bad cocktail party chatter without the cute cocktail dress. Or the drink. (Although I’m starting.)
This kind of weather exaggeration brings attention to exaggeration and hyperbole generally. Now I don’t want to make light of tragedy, but just yesterday I learned that the plane crash at a Reno, Nevada, race left a crater three feet deep and up to six feet wide. The news anchor spelled it out slowly so you wouldn’t miss the significance: “Three – Feet – Deep” and shook her head as she emphatically enunciated each word.
Three feet? I’ve seen people fall off a bike and leave a bigger divot than that.
But most of us have a short attention span and before we have time to decide whether a three foot “mpact crater is significant or not we’re off to the next story, probably something about a panda eating ice cream or something. This is when the news can actually be fun. More often than not your newscaster might forget to turn off the sturm and drang gravitas and kick in the happy smiley story persona. Of course it might not be good news for the panda with the ice cream, but we’re supposed to be happy. Smile.
And can I say this…can I just say this and hope it gets out there to the news and weather people in places like Minnesota? Ice on freeways is not all black ice! Black ice is the bete noir of our winters. Grandmother slips on sidewalk. Black ice. Car slides off road. Black ice. Truck slams school bus. Black ice. Technically, black ice occurs in extreme cold conditions when car exhaust freezes to road surfaces, usually at places like intersections where cars idle. (That’s my definition.) But “Black Ice” is so much more dramatic than run of the mill “icy” or “slippery” so…naturally…in the melodramatic world of television news all ice is black ice.
Finally — I know I don’t have to bring it up — but news people act as if we really think they really care about us. I can guess most of my local news people have parents, for example; I don’t need to see my evening news anchor’s mom teaching me how to bake lasagna. I suppose these are so called human interest elements and cheer up people, make the smile, but I prefer more John McLaughlin and less Rosie O’Donnell in my newscast.
Oh cripes…one more thing…hair. Did I mention hair? On windy days we lose a good five minutes of every news cast to pointless news anchor banter about how difficult it is to keep news anchor hair in place. (Jim Cantore doesn’t fret over this. He’s a good man that way.)
Ok, I’m done. And look at that! An entire post and not one deserving shot at the backward ignorance of the GOP. See, I can keep my blatantly partisan and all-too-correct politics out of these things. I’m just becoming a grump instead.