News People Are Peeved!

By Doug Drew 

The last two weeks I have asked news people what really ticks them off about news, and it didnt take long to get a long list of gripes. I got a huge amount of emails, and I am trying to publish as many responses as possible. Some of these I agree with and some I dont, but in any case, here goes this weeks: “Hey news people, what are your news pet peeves?”

Editorial

People in story meetings who say “I don’t care about that story” This just in, you are not the viewer!

Reactionary news: Fire safety after a fatal fire; Motorcycle safety after a fatal motorcycle accident; Seatbelt safety after a fatal car accident; Swimming safety after a drowning; etc.

Stations always watching and copying the last place station in the market. I thought leaders lead, not follow?

Newsrooms watching other stations, and changing their shows based on what the other stations are doing. I guess they assume that every viewer has four TVs on at the same time and is watching all the newscasts.

The requisite annual “staying cool/staying warm” stories with useful tips like “drink cool/warm liquids,” “wear lighter/heavier clothing” and “turn up/down the thermostat.” If any people in the ADI are really this stupid, they probably cant work the TV remote in the first place.

National reporters talking about a big story in Las Vegas, then signing off with “Reporting from Atlanta…” or “In Washington…” This tells viewers the reporters were nowhere near the story, and therefore don’t know what they’re talking about.

When they always give a story on Hispanics to the Hispanic anchor, so they pronounce the Hispanic names properly. Hey, give the white guy a chance at those names!

Reporter live shots/packages on stories that impact very few people (i.e. a house burns down, affecting all of 3 people who live there)

Excessive use of the word “exclusive” especially when we suspect the only reason it’s exclusive is that the other stations had the good judgment to not cover it.

Live Shots

Reporters standing knee deep in water while covering a flood. Never do on TV the thing you are telling your viewers not to do.

99% of live shots, unless the purpose is to prove the reporter is alive.

Live shots for the sake of live shots. Most of the time, we see a waist high shot of the reporter from some location. It is even more ridiculous at night when the waist high reporter is surrounded by darkness.

Having a reporter during an 11 PM newscast standing at a deserted location talking about an accident, shooting, etc. that took place earlier in the day just so they can go “live.” The viewers know its not happening now so why insult their intelligence by trying to fake it, the reporters just look silly!

Live shots with nothing visual that identifies the location, or the story.

Nighttime live shots in front of dark court buildings.

I’m tired of seeing a reporter at the scene of an accident or shooting or whatever, hours and hours later.

Anchors who tell the live shot reporter everything. It goes something like this:

“Sarah is live at the fire and Sarah three people are dead and countless others injured.” And then Sarah has to say, well, “Yes, that’s correct.” Of course she knows that, in fact, she should be telling the anchors the latest information.

The anchor toss sets up the story, but then, the field reporter starts off with “that’s right, or that’s true.” I cannot believe that this persists to this day. How about the very latest on the story, instead of that trite crutch?

Reporters who end their reports with their standard signature, and then say, “and now back to you.” Reporters who say, “We’re live…” We? Who the heck is “we”? You and the frog in your pocket?

I forbid my staff to use the word “hey” in a live shot. I then turn on NBC’s today show with Matt Layer in Vancouver tossing to Meredith in New York saying “hey Meredith” and Meredith replying with “hey Matt.” About puked. Hay is feed for cows, not a crutch for journalism!

Video

Looping the video. I’ve seen the same shot used four or five times in a 1 minute story.

Using canned video that doesn’t accurately reflect the story. For instance, using video of Amtrak’s Acela (which is electrically powered and runs only in the Northeast) on a story about passenger rail service in Ohio.

The same VO repeated in four newscasts following the original airing.

Unsourced (not supered) video provided by the networks or corporations.

Unreferenced video (sometimes called “Wallpaper”).

Use of the same video over and over as an unspoken icon for the story (think pelican covered in oil).

File footage which pops up frequently because producers/writers/reporters use the first entry on their video library search.

Newscasts packed with the coolest, eye-catching video at the expense of more significant stories.

I don’t like it when sportscasters talk about a specific play while rolling generic video.

Graphics

Google map addiction. Any story gets instantly cooler if you start out in space and zoom into an intersection or building. For maximum effect, combine with crude telestration to draw jaggy circles and arrows around relevant bits. Be sure to explain to befuddled viewers what theyre seeing “I’m zooming into the state of Arizona. Now Im circling the house where the fire started. Now Im drawing an arrow to where the suspect was caught!”

When a live shot reporter holds something up to show to us and it is completely covered by supers.

5 different audio/visual stingers running in the same block (i.e. Decision 2010, Crime Watch, Staying Healthy, etc.)

Exotic and busy digital visual wipes that actually take time away from what we need to see, such as a five-day weather forecast slowly twirling in the frame but before I can study the part of it I am interested in.

Screens filled with tiny, tiny boxes with video and bullet-point information. During the oil spill coverage I was forced to TiVo the newscasts, freeze a frame, and move until I was .0014-inches from the screen to see what was going on.

Using graphics or sound effects at the top of stories that include the words “Exclusive”, “Breaking News”, “This Just In …”, “Only on Action Snooze …”

Lower thirds which mask crucial hunks of video. Think tornado coverage.

Maps that show just a few blocks of a neighborhood. That doesn’t help viewers in another part of the coverage area understand where the story took place.

More pet peeves to come

Next week we will hear from people sounding off about weather, teases, breaking news, sound and talent. I have more than enough at this point, so thanks to all who have sent me their pet peeves.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at ddrew@602communications.com Keep up to date with Doug on facebook at facebook.com/dougdrew.

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