Tonight At Eleven! News Promos That Kill!

The purpose of local TV news is to scare women 18-54 into watching the next newscast.

I put that line in a column in Big Journalism last January and people had no problem figuring out what I meant.

You can be reminded of this mission of local TV news just about any time you watch a newscast. You will almost always find stories of “baby buggies that kill” and “infant seats that maim.” I was reminded of the mission of local TV news once again this week when I heard this promo (the name of the TV station is changed because it’s irrelevant since they are all the same—but the quote is accurate):

panic

On Super Duper Action My Eyewitness News live at 11, police say a man is driving up and down a valley street looking for women to attack. We’ll tell you where you need to be on extra alert.

So, let me get this straight. Cops say there’s a guy out there right now who wants to attack my wife and daughter, but you won’t tell me where he is until tonight at 11pm. Did I hear that right? Yes, I did—I played it back on TiVo so my wife and daughter could hear.

I’m watching this promo at 6:20 in the evening, so what am I supposed to do for the next four and a half hours? I have a few options—first, I’m safe to go outside because this dangerous man just attacks women, so I can head to the store, pick up Chinese takeout, or hang out with my buddies and watch baseball.

What if my wife and daughter want to go outside? The TV station had the time to tell us which “valley street” was dangerous, but they didn’t. They will wait to tell us tonight at 11. Hopefully the female viewers will still be alive at 11. My daughter said she just had to meet some girl friends, but I told her it was not safe for her or her friends to be out tonight and that she was to stay inside until after we watched the 11 p.m. news. She ignored me and left to walk the dog. I gave her my handgun (she’s pretty sharp with the 9mm Glock). Still–I’m a worried father (unlike TV news, I’ll skip the suspense and tell you she got home safe).

I called the station to ask them if they would tell me which valley street is the dangerous one, but the teenager who answered said I had to watch at 11. I made up a story and told them my daughter had a Green Solar Panel, anti-nuke, I Love Windmills, Pro-Choice America rally to go to and I wanted her to be safe and I was put on hold for five minutes, then hung up. Perhaps the kid at the desk was busy trying to find if he had missed the lefty event that would’ve been their new lead story at 11 (even potential killers out there on the streets take a back seat to Solar Panel Rallies).

death wish

Still, my concerns were real. These local TV stations have been saying for years that they are out there to protect us from every possible danger (you have seen their promos). During my 30 years in TV news I was asked to do these promos many times and refused because I said they were silly and the viewers just laughed at them. Yes, you can sometimes dissent, but not for long. You either make yourself look stupid by doing the promos, or they find someone who will—but I digress.

This is important stuff here. TV news wants to be relevant. They are losing viewers so they strain more and more every day to make you feel that, without them, we wouldn’t know what food to eat, which bike helmet to wear, or which streets are save for women to drive on. If Nanny Newscast is going to protect us, don’t wait ’till 11 to do it. What kind of babysitter tells the young child, “I’ll tell you why not to chew on that sharp toy tonight at 11?” And yes — TV news does treat its viewers like children.

As for the conclusion to this story, I dunno. I stayed home with my wife and daughter, we watched a movie on DVD and fell asleep before the 11:00 news. We were safe. We had the Glock.


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