What We Call the News

I sometimes watch The Simpsons on a Washington state Fox affiliate. I usually mute the commercials, but occasionally I catch a promo for the local Fox News. Nearly every day, they promote their weather coverage as the reason to watch:

Looks like a cold front coming in tonight. Can you put away those winter coats yet? Watch us at 11:00 to find out.

It’s extraordinarily pathetic that that’s the reason people might watch television news. And it must work, because they’ve been doing it for a while. The other schtick they have is equally sad. It’s a generic promo, and is a direct shot at the web. It begins:

There’s a lot of information out there, but only some of it matters to you and your family.

Of course, the broadcast is all about weather, local crime and celebrity gossip. It’s truly a sorry state of affairs.

And it’s exactly what the Jib Jab guys are mocking with their catchy video (thanks to Chris, who apparently knows where Kabul is):


What We Call the News


  1. I’ve noticed a little of this in local news here in Canada, but what infuriates me about so much U.S. local news is that, “Here’s a little teaser about something that seems really important — but you have to watch our show later to find out what it is!” schtick. It’s far too similar to Entertainment Tonight, where the whole show is a meta-preview of stuff later in the show that really turns out to be nothing.

    Perhaps why I watch little news now.

  2. I blame the viewers.

    No really. If you watch a channel that features wall-to-wall Anna Nicole coverage, you have only yourself to blame. It’s not like the internet, radio, newspapers, and personal newsfeeds via your Blackberry don’t exist. Heck, they give away half-decent tiny newspapers for free!

    As for local newscasts, they’re not really the target of this parody, and except a bit for Derek’s shot about panic teasers, they don’t really deserve the scorn.

    If (big if) I were to watch the local news, the key things I’d probably want to know were “did anything interesting happen in my city today?” and “what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”

    Admittedly, I ride my bike a lot, so the weather is of acute personal interest and routinely affects my daily plans.

    You can certainly argue that the local news covers the crime-and-fire beats a little heavily, but there’s a generic critique here that TV is so visual it tends to be biased towards visual stories.

    TV is also a pretty slow medium. I find it annoying how little info is transmitted in a typical news segment compared to an article that would take the same amount of time to read. Unless I’m anticipating an evening-news story that I expect to have a strong visual component, I just can’t be bothered.

    Since you don’t actually watch the local evening news either, I’m guessing you can’t be bothered either.

  3. If the viewers won’t engage, can’t be engaged, and have grown so cynical they won’t watch anything real, then Fox News will be there for them.

    Me, I’ll stick to the CBC and BBC. If nothing else, because Harper hates the CBC and wants it dead. They have this unfortunate habit of being genuinely balanced.

    The “leader” of the sad and moral-compassless republic to the south has publicly admitted that he preferred to watch Joe Millionaire over the news.

    Presumably that enables him to ignore the non-news.

  4. Has anyone here considered how similar today’s news coverage is to prolefeed in 1984? Garbage (like the incident between Trump and O’Donnell) are stuffed down our throats while news actually worthy of coverage (Darfur, Iraq, etc) is almost always ignored. When I switched on CNN last night, it had something about Smith’s will (or something else they managed to squeeze out of the whole affair). Then came the news about how two brothers killed 2 cops when they responded to a disturbance complaint. It’s not that these news are not worthy of airtime, but they’re certainly not worthy of airtime on a national television. They have be of concern to the community they happen in, but I can’t fathom how the entire country should be informed of them. The public is “mal-informed”, which is why the government could get away with anything. If the media actually done something original investigative work (which does not include looping what the spokesperson indefinitely), the US could not have invaded Iraq. About 60 of the population has disillusions about how WMDs and terrorism ties were found after the end of “major combat operations”. Fox is the worst, at 80 percent while PBS and NBR are the best are 15-20%.

    The media is considered by many to be the forth branch of government and it’s ability to influence the public presently is unprecedented in history. Sadly, the companies who own the media has abused and misused it; whether through bias reporting to meet a certain political end or firing reporters to save costs, the news just “ain’t” as good as it used to be. Whether intentional or unintentional, the news in 2007 is the prolefeed in 1984.

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