Commentary: Somber Day in the News Business?

Does anyone in broadcast journalism ever have the feelings of somber? Or is it just anger to brag about social media statistics? If its the latter, then I fear it’s going to be the end of reporting as we know it. I am the last person to call myself a “journalist” I consider that a gift to you or others that deserve it. Who the hell is shooting video with moving figurines made out of ABS plastic? I mean c’mon here.

But the events in Texas as of this writing is just been 36 hours old. There has been more outrage than grief. The New York news talent has had more face time than anyone in the midwest or Texas bureaus is there is even one anymore (like Dallas.) CNN being the gatekeeper of the country’s local media didn’t seem to patch into any of the local affiliates and listening to what they are reporting. There was more speculation on gun control than there what was going on. Fox was the usual suspects of talking about mental health, and other wacky talking points. Can’t speak for MSNBC.

Locally in the Boston area, WCVB reminded me all the reasons why I don’t watch them anymore. Their excessive use of Adobe’s Premiere and the stupid, warp and morphing effects got me motion sickness. Worse was their opens was using the standard Strive theme package, that is too happy during such a somber event. What makes this even more depressing is Natalie Jacobson, the gold standard anchor who left the station in 2007 after almost 3 decades at the station; when corporate-says-so attitude crept into the station’s newsroom. And yes, there was a serious drop of standards and class was missing amongst Ed and Maria. (Do I need to bring up a unnamed anchor during Hurricane Sandy?) I digress…Ironically she appeared in a special yesterday as she’s promoting a new book. She never step foot in the same studio she retired and core elements of the set has remained in tact.

I am an outsider, I am glad I am not in a newsroom because I’d be kinda more like a Jerry Nachman than say a Walter Issacson during an emergent news situation. I’ll bring up those two guys in a later post… a tease to say the least! But unlike other people, I never  generalize the industry as “the media” implying as if the institution is evil, and I am not making cheap shots because I want to be a keyboard warrior. I give a damn too much about an industry and a profession that the people who are in there are not taking it seriously. It’s not about being straight in the middle or being fair, or having the RBF/game face. It’s about trying to collect the teams and try to not make every breaking news a Columbine or a 9/11. Or everything having red graphic or excessive drama. 

I saw too much politics and not enough stories from families or the neighbors. I had to do hunting. CNBC apparently during Shepard Smith’s show (that preempted an hour early from a special on crypto) aired some of the graphic images or descriptions of the shooting. I missed seeing this as I was channel surfing and ingesting the final broadcast of Harvey Lenoard, the long time meteorologist in Boston, starting at two different iterations of Channel 7 to the present WHDH and left to go Channel 5 2 decades ago.

Harvey said some interesting words at a staff barbecue outside the station, as two other staffers were retiring from the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate today as well:

“We desperately need other people.” What an understatement. I say this because I see the changes in local media and today was a bittersweet day for someone who has seen so many changes and lived in the same market for my entire life. How can you have a “team” if so many people are being combined to doing multiple jobs? TV is supposed to be visual so there is some work to make so called “performance” but that’s given since the start.  Harvey needs to say that to the corporate folks because it’s on them to decide what’s “desperately” needed.

I was grieving more about the loss of local and national media than people actually dying from yesterday’s attack because there seemed to be so little or just wasn’t done well editorially.


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