Local television news makes loco news

Terror teasers and the idiocy of profit-driven television news are fit for trashcans, not for consumption.

There’s something in your house so deadly, you probably won’t live through tonight. And it’s completely undetectable – your only chance to stop this instant death plague is by watching our exclusive survival scoop!

This story and more, tomorrow on the 10 o’clock news. Stay tuned for “Judge Judy.”

This example is a typical local news teaser. It carries all the classic symptoms: a needless scare tactic, misleading facts, a skewed timetable, the idea that television news is one’s only outlet to society, etc. Heck, my example could be about lamp safety if anyone cares. These recklessly produced trailers are just the base product in the catalog of slop that news-hype factories produce.

You might wonder why I watch the local news if I hate it so much. Truthfully, I find television to be a time vacuum, but hungry people like me will usually get sucked in when they sit down for a meal or snack. I know it’s not healthy, but while eating and watching the news, I can burn off calories laughing at the “broadcast journalists,” or as I like to call them, “makeupy teleprompter enthusiasts.” I also maintain a diet of spitting out whatever I’m chewing when the top stories include celebrity gossip.

Local news lost its dignity long ago, and as the movie “Anchorman” satirized, broadcasts are just desperate attempts to gain viewers and thereby get more money from advertisers. There are people out there who think FOX 9 is a portal to unbiased current events and quality reporting. Many stories might come from The Associated Press, but with a core goal of attracting audiences, sensationalism is the name of the game.

This is why on slow news days you’ll see top stories about quadruplets being born – if it’s mildly interesting, you’re led to believe it’s the story everyone’s talking about. If there’s a huge breaking news story (say, a pretty white girl disappears), you’ll not only get the details, but an “exclusive” report about steps you can take to avoid disappearing.

To further competition among the networks, local stations hire the most qualified anchorpeople. And if you think being qualified for the job means being able to read, you’d be wrong. If you’re an anchorwoman, you have to be easy on the eyes and persuadable. If you’re an anchorman, you have to be hygienic, carry an artificial confidence and not make viewers want to punch you. Kinda makes you wonder how Frank Vascellaro made the cut on Channel 11. Just kidding, Frank. You’ve got tons of artificial confidence. Whoops, my bad Ö I’ve digressed.

As I was saying, the local news ends up looking like a cold, sterile place. I’m sure stations employ many hardworking people with genuine intentions, but the commercial nature means I will be finding my news in more reliable sources – namely The Onion.

Television should be a last resort news medium. It is pleasurable for the wrong reasons (for me because I enjoy making fun of it), diverting the attention of the audience in a predetermined way. And if you read my columns, you know I can’t stand commercial pretenses that limit interpretation and are marketed as legitimacy.

So do yourself a favor and get your news from authentic sources, not charming television personalities who spit out information for you like a neighborhood gossiper.

Mat Koehler welcomes comments at [email protected]