For example, I am annoyed at the story choices--what leads on the evening news. Never mind the state of the world--our local news invariably chooses the most inane stories as leads. There is even a cycle to this inanity--every year, Groundhog Day (just past) gets top billing. I am so tired of the d*mn groundhog that I feel like hunting down and killing the critter. Oops--careful, control yourself. Or in January, the farm show. And the Farm Show weather. Local legend has it that Farm Show weather is always icy and snowy. Except it isn't. So if it snows that week--well, it's always icy and snowy. But if it doesn't--where's the snow and ice? See?--an endless round of news. On and on it goes.
Then there's the breaking news syndrome--a fire somewhere in our nearby city trumps almost any other story. Breaking news has a close cousin in the exclusive report.
I am always flabbergasted when a news report begins with these words: "We bring you this exclusive report"--the implication being that this channel is the ONLY one to know about and cover this news.
Eh? If it's exclusive--i.e. no one else is covering it--is it really news? Try these headlines--
OUR EXCLUSIVE REPORT
--Pearl Harbor Bombed
--Tsunami Hits Indonesia
--Planes Fly into World Trade Center
--Princess Di Killed in Paris Crash
You get the picture--if it's news, EVERYONE covers it.
Another tendency--salacious video. We've all seen helicopter coverage of police chases in Los Angeles--hello! this is central Pennsylvania. Why on the earth would we want to see L.A. police chases on our LOCAL news? Or grim murders from somewhere in Nevada? It's almost the equivalent of "aliens captured me" stories or "two-headed calf born" stories that grace the pages of National Enquirer. Our local television news now shills the same kind of trash that the newspaper rags feature.
I've already ranted about local weather forecasters--any time the temperature rises to abnormal levels in the winter, they laud it! They inveigh against cold of any kind. As a cold weather lover, I am driven nuts by this tendency. And I have a sneaking suspicion that such coverage of the weather contributes to our human inertia in face of global warming--why do anything, we ask, we like it warm. Way over-simplified, of course (but, hey, it's my blog).
Oh, and who can ignore the constant tease approach. "Coming up. . .a dog adopts a duck. Where this happened and what people are saying about it." At each news break interval, the same promo. Finally, 5 minutes before the end of the news, a 30 second video clip of a "cute" story. That's it. So, you get 3 minutes of promotional tease for a 30 second nonsense story.
I almost forget--the comments from the person on the street. Some national tragedy may be reported, but it can't possibly be authentic until you get a comment from Joe Schmoe. Now, I don't know Joe. I have no idea what he knows. I don't know if he is interested in the news, if he reads to inform himself, if he has any of the same values that I might have--but, hey, I know what he thinks about this important story. Far too often, it seems to me, Joe Schmoe appears to have gone no further in schooling than 3rd grade. He forgot to shave this morning (how was he to know he would be on local news). And, to top everything off, his fly is unzipped. OK--I made up the part about his fly.
So what's left to complain about where local news is concerned? Well, I'll tell you--pronunciation.
Any local newscaster should be required to have a crash course in pronouncing place names. Of course, every area has its local peculiarities. I live in central Pennsylvania so we have some words with odd pronunciation. In our town we have a street named Muench. You might think--well, that looks like MUNCH, and you would be wrong. It is pronounced MINNICK.
A local creek is named Swatara--derivative of an American Indian name. The emphasis is on the second syllable--SwaTARa. But some newbies on local news have said--SWAtara. Or worse. A nearby town is Carlisle. Now, the only way that sounds right to me is to say CarLISLE. Emphasis on the second syllable. But many local announcers have taken to saying CARlisle. Can't figure out why.
Then there are "regular" words. The other night, a newscaster said something about having to repeat something. Only he said REpeat. Huh? I say rePEAT.
It has gotten so I spend so much time "correcting" these peculiar pronunciations that I end up not really listening to the news.
Maybe that's why I prefer print news. No mispronunciations there!