Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's not news

  • The tragic break-ups of a failed Vice Presidential candidate's daughter is not news -- even if she is pregnant. In fact, the private lives of the non-famous children of famous people just isn't news ever. And for the most part, winning Vice Presidents themselves are not even news unless they are running the country from the back seat or shooting someone in the face with a shotgun.
  • The whereabouts, happenings, rehab attendance, haircuts and pregnancies of Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton and Angelina Jolie are not news, regardless of how many photographers sit on their door steps. (This applies to other celebrities too. Don't expect me to list them all.)
  • If it is hot as hell in August in Texas, it is not worthy of the lead story on the national news. Furthermore, if you run it as the lead story in melodramatic fashion, be careful that when you do the weather segment later in the show that the map doesnt show "NORMAL" for the same region. If it is cold in the winter in Minnesota or wet in the ocean, it is also not news.
  • If your "news show" is 4 hours long there is a good chance that its not news.
  • What the President's wife wears is not news. It's a stretch, but it might be fashion news, but around here that means it is about 6 sections back in the Sunday paper and not on prime time TV.
  • If you have a 30 minute afternoon news show focusing on national news and you have to repeat stories (totally unedited and without updates) from the morning news show, then its not news.
  • If you got canned from being a big city weatherman and landed in a small religious town, it's probably not a good idea to berate the technical staff on air and drop the big F dash dash dash word. It's news, but it's probably not a good idea. If you did that in a major market, you'd be paying a half million dollars to the FCC.
  • It's not news if you are at the animal shelter talking about the bad temperament of pit bulls when the one behind you is playfully leaping and wagging like it was a 5 pound rat terrier.
  • "There was a wreck somewhere in town today" is not news. Furthermore, if you do this story every night and it wasn't some particularly memorable accident you are destined to be considered small town news no matter what the size of your viewing audience. 'Memorable' is a subjective term, but if flames are over 100 feet high or if a diaper delivery truck collides with a tanker and the spill is self cleaning -- that is memorable. "An SUV collided with a Buick, no injuries were reported" -- not news.
  • If it is about to snow for the first time of the season and you do an interview with the guy that drives the sand trucks -- that's not news. Neither is it news if you report on high traffic at the mall the day after thanksgiving. If, for some reason you find out the ice storm of the century is coming and we are entirely out of sand or if there is a huge sale after thanksgiving and no one shows -- that is news.
  • If you have a 2 hour news magazine (which is way too long) and you detail a true crime story from its inception all the way up to the trial, but do not include the verdict (because the trial is still in progress) then not only is it not news, you owe me $40 an hour for 2 hours -- which comes to $60. (I have TiVo and don't watch your stinking commercials.)
  • The above observation should be generalized to be "if you thought it was news, then the follow up is news." Don't give me 4 straight days of "there's a terrible wildfire burning in the West" and then never tell me that it was put out. For all I know there is one big ass fire still burning from 2001.
  • If you are reporting on intricacies of a foreign religion to help us understand why other folks act the way they do, then quite possibly that is news. However, if you have a 5 minute segment on the local 10 o'clock news about how much some random person loves Jesus, then its not news. Let them tell their story Sunday morning to someone that wants to hear it.
  • Furthermore, it's never news if you are a local TV station and do a 5 minute in depth study of one local person's religious beliefs. If you repeat that same story every day for a week, with 5 different people, each from the exact same religion, you have just insulted the integrity of your entire TV station, if not your entire network.
  • If you hired Kathy Lee Gifford then its not news.
  • If you own, operate or are news director of some small town piddley TV station and feel the urge to give a 2 minute editorial for everyone to hear, then this is assuredly not news. The criteria for if your opinion is even worth proclaiming is this: you must run one broadcast where you actually put the commercials in the right spot or don't broadcast dead air.
  • There is no journalistic reason to interview the friends and family of a tragically deceased person in the days immediately following their death. We all know the friends and family are going to say the deceased was a great person and will be missed. If you are attempting this tactic, its not news. If you actually do your best on a regular basis to try to make them cry, you are forever doomed to be called "not a journalist" even if you become the head of CBS news department someday.
  • If you made a taped piece and time has passed since you taped it... and nothing new has happened... then there is no reason to appear live at the scene 5 hours later. We saw the tape. We know you were there. You do not have to prove it to us. It is a waste of time and effort to set up the equipment a second time for the shot that offers nothing to the story.
  • It's not news if The Daily Show on Comedy Central has more news coverage than you do. While this is a sad thing for any "news" show, it is especially sad of the shows that are 2, 3 or even 4 hours long. A 30 minute comedy bit (23 minutes when the commercials are edited out) should never out-news a 4 hour show. Ever.
  • It's not news if there is a Bible quote on the front page of the paper. I would say this applies to a Quoran quote too, but if you actually did that around here, it might actually be news.
  • If your entire newscast is geared towards scaring the bejeezus out of me, then it isn't news.
  • Talking louder or faster doesn't make me listen and doesn't mean it's news.
  • Under no circumstances is it news if at any time you interview Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Chris Mathews, Geraldo Rivera or ______. (Use your damn head and fill in the blank yourself. If they are "insightful" then they might be news. If they are "inciteful" then it isn't.) Bill O'Reilly would be in that list but he gets a pass because one time in 15 he actually suddenly makes sense out of the blue and makes me do a double take. The fact that he suddenly is miraculously sane for 5 minutes is news, no matter what your political views are.
  • It's not medical news if Nancy Snyderman is reporting. In fact, anytime anyone tells you all your medical problems are caused by the fact you don't eat low fat, you are not only not getting news, you're getting diabetes, Alzheimer's and a host of other fun diseases. When the fat phobia found false in the '70s is actually reported as new news sometime in the future -- that will be news. (If only there was some sort of foodie zealot to bring this to light...)
  • A news show has an 'anchor'. If your show has 'personalities' then it is not news.
  • It's not news if the White House Press Secretary is talking. I don't care which political party you are backing or which Press Secretary you are referring to -- the job title for this weasel should be Liar in Chief.

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