Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cuprisin On Favre, Media And Breaking News

Former Journal Sentinel media columnist Tim Cuprisin, taking his byline and considerable experience after the latest newsroom buyout at 4th and State to, writes about why local television broke into yesterday's programming to carry a Brett Favre news conference as live, breaking news.

It's a discussion I kicked off in a fit of Internet pique on this blog yesterday, to which Tim links, noting for the record that while I am not a grumpy old crank, (I agree: "old" doesn't fit), I'm still tilting at windmills for condemning the stations for going live.

Tim's analysis is right: local media consider anything related to the Packers and the weather to be ratings gold, and no amount of complaining will change station management thinking and behavior.

And, yes, I can (and do) watch the PBS News Hour to find information that won't be interrupted by events that are packaged to keep viewers itchy fingers off the remotes.

But that doesn't mean TV consumers should avoid registering their objections with the stations over programming interruptions every time it rains in spring, thunders in summer, and snows in winter, or whenever the wind kicks up somewhere in the viewing area so full-color Doppler maps, in-house Weather Centers or reporting teams can be activated and hyped.

Like other consumers of products and services, viewers should speak out if they feel they are being stampeded or deceived or condescended.

If they feel like "Breaking News" has lost its meaning through over-use or trivialization, or they are being used as pawns in the ratings game, they should call or write the station - - just as they would if they were ticked off at a politician, chain store or Internet site.

For my money, when I see and hear "Breaking News," it reads "Crying Wolf" to me.

And I still prefer seeing Packers stories in the sports segment, not as the lede.


Anon Jim said...

Agreed - the only thing more over-blown than PAcker coverage by the local TV & radio, is their insane inane coverage of the weather.

Why I never watch local TV "news" or for the most part listen to radio live.

Like to have my news when I want it - not on their terms so the internet and podcasts do fine by me.

enoughalready said...

The needlessly long weather reports and mindless Packers coverage (including sending reporters to Mississippi for no good reason) are two of the reasons I stopped watching local TV news.

My personal favorite "breaking news" story was (a couple of years ago probably now) when WTMJ had their chopper flying over Pewaukee lake because a child "may have fallen off of a raft." After several updates throughout the half-hour newscast (the anchors' faces showing their grave concern), including live footage from the chopper circling over the lake, the newscast ended with the admission that they had been mistaken. The report was false. No child had fallen off a raft, after all.

I wasn't watching much WTMJ news when that happened. Afterwards, I made sure to watch even less.