Why Are My Newscasts Singing?

I really don’t need my newscasts to have theme songs. NBC’s NY station is trilling, “We’re FOUR New York” these days. Thanks heavens Brain Williams has the good sense to not sing, but merely recite some cutesy line (“This year, I’m not for any particular candidate, but I’m four New York” was the line during the election season). Alas, the same can’t be said for Sue “What the fuck are you doing?” Simmons, who seems to curse far better than she sings. (After about 100 years anchoring, you’d think she’d have learned to never assume your mic is off when on the set!).The local ABC station, not to be outdone, is proclaiming “I believe in Eyewitness News.” Yeah right — I really believe in a newscast that sings to me.

Everyone, it seems, is proclaiming “Live, from Studio WhoGivesAFuck….” Um….ok. I can see Saturday Night Live announcing their from “Studio 8H.” That is, after all, one of the most famous studios in the history of both radio and television. The studio where Toscanini conducted the NBC Orchestra (and which was once known as “The Toscanini Studio.”). But does anyone care that the Today Show comes from “Studio 1A” (which is actually a bunch of studios, including at least one on the second floor).

WNBC has also some up with something new:  “The Content Center.” This is what used to be called “The Newsroom.” I guess NBC News is no longer producing, um, news, but merely content (which generally includes “stories” promoting various NBC shows. This is something nearly all the network-owned local stations do, so it’s not just NBC). And, of course, following Drew Peterson’s lovelife hardly qualifies as news, so perhaps “content” is at least being more honest about it.

This news stuff, which surely is erupting in your town, is the result of the general herd mentality in television news, the result of consultants. Chief among them is an company called Frank Magid Asssociates. Magid (sometimes referred to as Maggot among those who actually think news should serve a public need, not just be a generator of revenue for the stations) is the guy who created the “Action News” concept, and probably has been responsible more than anyone else for destroying television news. Once one station adopts something, you’re sure to see if popping up on every other station in the market. Thus, the spread of “Eyewitless” formats and “happy talk” anchors bantering between stories (wasting time that could be spent on, ummm, actual news).

Folks, I don’t care what fucking studio you’re working out of. I don’t want to sing along. I just want to know what’s going on in the world. Preferably with the names pronounced correctly and the facts as accurate as possible. And more “news” and less “content” please. Is that too much to ask for?

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