Local TV news’ Trojan farce

I hard heart this video, not because of how it exhibits our country’s intense sense of unease and paranoia in this post-9/11, post Faisal Shahzad era, but for its demonstration of the nature of local television journalism:

via GawkerTV and (former) roommate Brittany

Get to the news chopper! I know local teevee newscasts are typically a bit more … how can I say this delicately… dramatic … than your average written news recap, and it has been my impression that the local televised news market in Jamlando is even more intensely┬ácompetitive (and tabloidy)┬áthan elsewhere in the country.

Notice how long they kept the chopper hovering above the school, all, apparently, in the interest of bringing you a close-up view of what exactly it sounds and looks like when a plush toy is blowed up with high-grade explosives. Which, by the way, looks exactly like what you would imagine, and appeals to the same pleasure centers of the brain as this.

My question is: what’s the appropriate amount of time to keep your news chopper in the air after you realize a news event is a false alarm? You’ll notice at the end the chopper continues to circle the building after the incident has been defused (destuffed? deponied?).

I don’t know, but the idea of a news organization that has the budget to chew through on bonus helicopter footage while my old newspaper took away the EZ Pass like toll transponders for reporters makes my veins twitch. And the kicker in all this: they wait till the end to show how the toy pony was found in between a school and a playground. My headline: Trojan Farce.

I will award 100 journalism points to the person who finds and interviews the child that toy belonged to.

My Little Suicide Pony

3 responses to “Local TV news’ Trojan farce

  1. I tend to agree with you on this subject, but I gotta be honest: I think that’s a pretty note-perfect news report. That vertical shot was hilarious! I mean, the absurdity in that situation isn’t being generated by the newscasters. It’s the situation. And it’s so absurd, the news station shouldn’t go, “Oh, false alarm, we can downgrade our coverage.” It should be, “Holy shit! The cops think a stuffed animal in front of a school might be a bomb, and they’re going to blow it up, and we get to film, and everyone will want to watch!” How often does something that crazy happen? It’s a great, little story.

    There was this old executive editor at the Winston-Salem Journal when I interned there who used to say, “If people are talking about it on the street, it should be in our paper,” and I couldn’t agree with him more. With plenty of obvious exceptions, one of the most significant standards for news should be whether people are talking about it on the street. And I would bet a whole lot of cash people were talking about that.

  2. You’re write that it’s a pitch perfect execution of the local news formula, which is why this could easily pass for one of those Onion News Network videos. Of course they should cover this thing, as it was no doubt disruptive to everyone’s lives down there. But the intensity of the level of coverage is what gives me pause.

  3. Maybe. But you’re seeing it on YouTube in a humorous context. That day, the newscasters didn’t know there was no bomb in the thing until the cops blew it up. The story should reflect a certain intensity in those circumstances. After it’s clear there was no bomb, I would have been like, “I’d like to report that was as awesome in person as I’m sure it was to audiences at home in front of their televisions. Not every day, but some days, it’s completely worth it to show up to work. Back to you, Craig.”

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