Saturday, October 27, 2012

KFSM Chronicles: Separating the News from the Nonsense

Posted by on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM

I finally sat down last night and did what I have been promising Tracy I would do for quite some time - I took a legal pad and wrote down exactly what one might see on KFSM (Channel 5 - Fayetteville/Fort Smith) on a typical night.

5:00 - Darren Bobb with a “Breaking News” story done on the site on a shooting in Fort Smith

5:01 - Garrett Lewis gets to do the first of his three weather reports. Really, three in a half hour? I sometimes think local news should just be called The Weather Report - with smatterings of news added.

5:03 - A piece on Miss University of Arkansas and her arrest for driving under the influence. Already reported on, today we had the added feature of footage from the police car, including a shot of her in then back seat of the car.

5:05 - A segment on a prisoner who was released by mistake in Sebastian County

5:06 - ninth-graders get into a fight at a Springdale school.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that some of their folks in the field talk a trifle too fast?

5:07 - We finally run out of anything local to report on, so we go to national election coverage, featuring clips from speeches given by Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. We are told by the local anchor that Romney is “gaining” on President Obama in the polls.

Is that another way of saying that Obama is leading Romney in the polls? If so, why not say so?

5:08 - News about the Hurricane approaching the East Coast.

5:10 - commercials

5:13 - Health Watch segment. Was that some sort of ad I saw fly across the bottom of the screen?

5:15 - Second of three weather segments

5:20 - Market Watch, with a story about the investigation into the Ford Taurus.

5:21 - commercials

5:23 - a scintillating piece on a new sort of massage parlor in San Francisco, which specializes in “Face Slapping.” It’s an ancient Thai technique, so you just know it’s gotta be good. If this works out for the owners of the business, they will branch out into “Butt Slapping.”

This was the sort of piece that I wish I had written, just to see how many I could fool into believing it was true. Sadly . . .

5:25 - commercials

5:28 - recap of the “Breaking News” segment we heard just a few short minutes ago.

5:29 - The last of three weather reports, for those with Attention Deficit Disorder.

The news about the shooting seems to have cut into any available time they may have had for cute shots of puppies, kittens, babies or anything else that may have fallen into their hands. No doubt they can make up for it next week.

These times are not scientific; I was using the clock on my cable box, which is what I set my watch by - which is good enough for me.

So let’s say seven minutes for commercials, seven minutes for weather (shaving off a few seconds), and eight minutes for national news - including the hopeful butt slappers.

That leaves us about eight minutes to use for local news.

I have been sort of mesmerized by Channel 5 lately; it’s like buying a DVD set of a TV series, and after you watch it you think, “There’s a really good TV show here. I wonder where it is.” I watch KFSM with a sort of amazement every day, wondering where they will take me to now.

To be fair, KFSM isn’t the only news program that is worthy of lampooning; I just happened to pick on therm. I’m sure you have your favorite, or least favorite, as the case may be.

This is the point in the conversation when some will turn their noses in the air and proclaim that all television news is junk, and we shouldn’t expect any better, but there is a medical term to describe such people.

Idiots.

True, we are living in an age when giggling banter, sad music (in the background of emotional pieces) and even sound effects seem to the rule of the day when it comes to television news, at time when stations make reporters run outside the building, in an effort to fool the audience into believing that they are somehow “on location” somewhere.

A time when consultants and management force on air anchors to use stupid catchphrases like,”Coming to you from ______, where the news is always Fine, Feral and Fantastic.”

Back in the 1970s, after Henry Mancini wrote the theme for the NBC national news program, one comedian had a line about the “love them from the six o’clock news.”

So we make jokes about the news, or we disparage it, to show how smart we are, but what about changing the news? Must we wallow forever in our little pools of intellectual superiority?

Every station has a comment line, where folks can call in and leave their comments. They have websites. These comments are paid attention to.

Though I make fun of KFSM, I realize that the format of the program is entirely in the hands of the programs’ producers and those who own the station.

Television news can be so great, and a force for good in the community, but it’s sort of like a partnership. If you think they are falling from the path, let them know.

And don’t be rude.

*****

Still, KFSM - Fort Smith?

Crime stories - and more folks losing their jobs - seem to be the biggest stories which come from Fort Smith these days. Why management ever thought that Fort Smith was the intellectual or economic powerhouse of Northwest Arkansas is beyond me.

Oh, yeah, the U.S. Marshal Museum. They can get scads of stories about that one, even before it is built.

*****

In the meantime, there is Public Access Television

I know that I sort of sound like a televangelist when I talk about public access, but once you dip your toe in the waters, you discover the magical world that it is. For over 30 years public access has been the regions only true arts, religion, political and what-have-you channel.

Where commercial TV has failed, public access producers have often jumped in and presented stories to the community that they may otherwise not have known. If there is a video quilt of a community, you can find it at your local public access station.

And most of it produced by people in your own city, maybe even on your own street. Why not check it out at:

http://www.livestream.com/fayettevillepublicaccesstv

***
Quote of the Day

“From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life.” — Anaïs Nin

rsdrake@cox.net

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