Thursday, February 11, 2010

TV News

I got hooked on watching, for the 10th time, that great movie "Network".  The Oscar winning 1976 movie predicted with uncanny accuracy what would happen to Television News in the future.  The premise was that the Network brass would allow the news operation to give commentary time to an anchorman who had gone crazy. (Think Glenn Beck and the Fox Crew.)   The ratings went up as the rantings went on.

I got a note today from someone who said Frank Magid had died.  He was a guy who single-handedly destroyed broadcast journalism with his 'happy news' format back in the early 70's.  He thought news shows should be populated with 'personalities' and banter rather than serious reporting.  His company was consulting for KOB-TV back then.  I was working as a reporter, anchor, and assignment editor at Channel 7.  Channel 4's new format was hurting our ratings.  This was back in the day when there was no cable or satellite and everyone watched local TV news.  So every rating point was worth revenue.  Of course, our management went out and hired a consultant too and journalism died at KOAT-TV, for the most part.  I remember well that I was producing and anchoring the news on the night that Nixon conducted the "Saturday Night Massacre" of Watergate fame.  I led with the story and was hauled into the manager's office and confronted by him and the consultant with leading with the story for the newscast.  They opined some dumb ass car wreck story was more important.  I left TV sometime later because I just did not fit in with the new formulas.  The General Manager at the station said I was a 'purist'.  I think he was correct.

Things have deteriorated ever since for TV News along with viewership.  Unless all you are interested in are sex related stories and poorly reported and researched political corruption stories. That is an old picture of me giving election results on the air in 1972.  One thing for sure, the technology is better.

Howard Beale: We'll tell you anything you want to hear, we lie like hell.


New Mexican said...

Who was the lady in the yellow hot pants? WOW

Rodney said...

Never more true than now!

Well, I could've been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear, give us dirty laundry...

We got the bubbleheaded bleach-blonde, comes on at 5
She can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It's interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry...

Don Henley - Dirty Laundry

Trevor Baldock said...

God bless the "purist".I wanted to see what the weather was going to be Christmas day, the KOB-TV weatherman was doing a Santa-laden forecast (because the children might be watching)with big graphics/gaudy fonts, Santa's sleigh going across the screen, and the forecast:
that is NOT a misspelling by me.I sure hope the children weren't watching.Or does putting a red "spelling counts" on someone's paper hurt their feelings?