Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Air!


Newsrooms across the country are giving me a look, which I don’t want, into their back offices. You may have noticed that broadcasts now feature an anchor walking around in a “back room” amongst their normally off camera co-workers, and possibly the interns.

I can do without this. Here’s why:  last night, I saw a woman wearing a tank top, ITCHING HER ARMPIT...on camera!

Really? Can’t someone give a heads up, or some other shout out so that everyone in range can put away the yogurt or maybe stop hanging over into the next cubicle having a big yuk-yuk whilst the pretty lady anchor tells me about a 5 year old who was abducted and dumped along the highway?

How bout the networks go “all in” and have the people in the background put on a little make-up, appear to be typing what I hope is fantastic news copy, or just look SMART?

What I see night after night is a group of people hanging out all laid back, getting to know each other, having fun chillin’ at the newsroom. Dude, it’s just a job like yours or mine. (Ha ha! I made a joke...I don't have a job!)

Here’s a NEWS FLASH news channel:  I’m really not jealous of the way cool job they’re “doing”. I’m pouring more wine and wondering why on earth I subject myself to this every evening.

It’s as if the networks think I’m mentally stuck as an 8 year old school child who’s positive the teacher doesn’t wear jeans, drink, cuss or leave the school. They’re trying to show me that my news anchors are people too, just like me…folksy huh? But guess what?


I’ve even seen the anchors shopping at local markets and not fainted on the spot from the shock of it all.  

What I appreciate in a newsroom’s background is a clean, visually simple space. I don’t need 45 television screens running news reels of things I’m not watching or learning about. Where that tactic aims to have me believe my chosen channel has its finger on the pulse of the news world, it seems a little boastful and braggy; especially when what they cut to is not something I JUST saw behind the walking anchor but a story on a koala who was born with two toes but manages to climb his West Coast zoo habitat anyway.

What about all the pictures of Afghan women in burkas you were showing me back there? Where did that war scene go? Didn’t I see something about Haiti? What are you people doing with all this news...hiding it?!?

I suggest going back to a simpler time; a time when the anchors sat stuffily behind a desk, gave me the news of the day in a straight forward manner without the joking banter, and made me believe that they knew without a doubt that they were right. No one cares that you can work your iPad and make it project holographic charts onto a green screen...if I want that kind of news I can skip on over to tosh.0.

News anchors, especially network anchors, should be people who are above academic and political reproach, otherwise why on earth should I take anything they say at face value? If they’re the jokey, folksy neighbor leaning over the fence telling me some stories, then it’s just GOSSIP, not the final word on something serious.

Walter Cronkite never jokingly told anyone on air about his wife’s attempt to rake leaves or the way his co-anchor looked in shorts on the golf course last week end. That man was THE authority on the news of the day and not only could you trust him, you didn’t dare question him. He had screen-cred.

He sat in his suit, at a desk, with a teleprompter…some notes in front of him. Sure there were people in the room but they were quietly typing news copy and giving the job the solemnity it deserved.  After that, it was lecture time and you sat back and took your own notes from Professor Cronkite. The only entertainment he provided was a WORLD MAP…so you could bone up on geography.

What a master…"that's the way it is..." I BELIEVED HIM!

Check it out. No one's questioning this guy, or his two side kicks.

As it is now, half the time I’m lying in wait for the screw up as they seamlessly slide from a veteran whose home is being foreclosed upon as he recuperates at Walter Reed with massive brain trauma and jump right in to the smiley, funny story of the cat with a turtle for a best friend.

Isn’t there a larger portion of the news viewing world who wants a return to simpler, more straightforward news? I sincerely hope we aren’t all destined for the 24 hour crap wheel that is cable news.

So network news, please heed some constructive criticism. No one minds the people working at computers or talking on the phone in background. We don’t mind seeing you WORK on hard hitting, expose´ style pieces; however we really don’t need to see the Jell-O break or the chit chat. Keep it professional, and just tell me the news of the day. K?

*Photo credit: Google search the on air sign and for Walter.

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