I have officially given up on local television news.
Actually, it wasn't that hard to do. Former President George Bush could sign an anti-broccoli petition with about the same amount of difficulty. Mr Bush apparently never was fond of the stuff, and for my part, I have never qualified as a news junkie and even if I had, the current quality of Media Methadone would spur me to go cold turkey.
The adage says, "If it bleeds, it leads," and in central Oklahoma, our newscasts practically hemorrhage into our living rooms. I wouldn't have thought it possible for photography to be simultaneously lurid and banal, yet examples flourish on the airwaves. And when they're not trying to make local neighborhoods look like West Beirut on a bad day, they're trying to find some way to make every scandalous national issue into a local one and with all due respect to Bob W. (not his real initial) of Warr Acres (not his real suburb), why should I give a flip what he thinks of Monica Lewinsky?
Even the weather reports are hyped. The stations spend incredible sums on the zoomiest-looking computer equipment they can find, and devote promotional space every hour to the number of nanoseconds it shaves off the time required to spot a cloud over Roger Mills County. Considering Oklahoma's location, right where all the hemisphere's weather patterns collide on a regular basis, where when they say the climate is "mercurial" they're not talking about the contents of a thermometer, all this high-tech hoopla can't boost their ability to predict the weather more than a smidgen, and when it inevitably fails, they just shrug and remind us of the first half of this sentence.
The local Fox station, with presumably the least resources of our major network affiliates, has apparently taken the position that the money they don't have can be taken out of the promotional budget. For that, at least, they deserve some credit. But for now, as an act of sheer self-preservation, I'm staying away from as many hype machines as I can. This article is dated the same day as the Super Bowl, and I'm not watching that either.
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Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill