Same Talking, Different Heads: How Not To Localize News

from the handed-the-same-envelope dept

If you haven’t seen this short clip of a bunch of local TV newscasters all saying the exact same line about Conan O’Brien’s officiating a same-sex marriage on stage in New York City during a show this week, it’s really worth watching just for the mind-numbingly bizarre reaction you have to seeing so many newscasters all repeat the exact line: “Conan O’Brien may be about to push the envelope on late night television.” Or, as O’Brien notes, watch as they each put “their own spin” on the news:

Honestly, it’s hard not to watch that and think that all of the newscasters didn’t receive the identical script. While the phrase is a common one, it’s not that common that it would lead so many newscasters to all use the identical phrasing. It’s possible these are all news affiliates from a single company, who were sent a basic script — but, once again, this seems to highlight the growing irrelevance/ridiculousness of TV news these days. If you’re just going to have 50 different newscasters all read the identical script, why not just have a single newscaster do it, and air it directly on all those other stations.

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Comments on “Same Talking, Different Heads: How Not To Localize News”

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44 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

The bigger question than why local reporters were reading the same story, is why this Conan story was being aired on local news in the first place?

Local news outlets should be reporting on local news. That should be their sole focus. If they’re reporting on stuff the entire world has already read about online, they’re failing miserably.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Local news outlets should be reporting on local news. That should be their sole focus. If they’re reporting on stuff the entire world has already read about online, they’re failing miserably.

Eventually maybe, but I’m sure there are still people who get most or all of their news from local sources. I honestly feel sorry for anyone still watching local TV news though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mostly I find lamescream so short of what the news media are supposed to function as, that I now get my news from other sources.

Sources that don’t have a vested interest in selling one slant as opposed to another. By the time it makes it to newspapers and tv news, it’s old news given today’s internet speeds. If you know where to look, you can often find about the days happenings and be on to other stuff, long before it hits lamescream.

When you start seeing things like Eric Holder making statements that several of the major media’s are withholding info on an agreement (mainly to keep an open line to White House sourced news) and cussing a reporter for breaking it as news, (Fast and Furious) you begin to get the hint that the major news networks are acting as government stooges so you won’t be able to depend on them for unbiased news.

Lots of that going on in today’s world of corporate control.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:

Something I’ve noticed… My favorite (and only) sources for non-interwebs news is The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I’ve seen coverage from other places on the E-PARASITE act but not a peep out of either of them. Makes me wonder if Viacom is flexing its muscle.

It’s more likely that the average viewer of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report does not care about E-PARASITE and that there are many other areas of news more suitable for lampooning. If Viacom is flexing any muscle, it’s the muscle that looks for ratings and ad revenue.

PlagueSD says:

If you’re just going to have 50 different newscasters all read the identical script, why not just have a single newscaster do it, and air it directly on all those other stations.

That would mean 49 other newscasters would be out of a job. We’re supposed to be creating jobs, not destroying them!!!

Think of the children…(of the newscasters)

Anonymous Coward says:

Local news is some of the worst TV news. My local news very often decides that pep rallies cheering for the sport teams and the weather are the only things worth reporting.

I can tell just by looking out my window that it’s snowing, I don’t need to see reporters all around the area confirm to me that it’s snowing.

And if I want to watch a sports pep rally I can go to a sports pep rally, or buy cable or whatever to actually watch the national sports games the local teams are playing in.

I rarely watch TV news anymore, since it’s so heavily biased to shamelessly milk any conflict possible regardless of the facts. There was one time the news in my area were all heavily attacking the Catholic church for not taking allegations of priests molesting kids serious enough. Then the church finally reacted by temporarily suspending around 18 priests with pay while they investigated the allegations. Then the same news organizations made a big story about the Catholic church overreacting and wrongly accusing 18 priests of molesting kids (with the ‘evidence’ of wrong doing being catholic church goers saying “he couldn’t possibly be a child molester”, rather than actual investigative journalism proving they were innocent of all charges).

Anonymous Coward says:

Reporters are L-A-Z-Y. If you give them words they can cut and paste they will use them verbatim whether they make sense or not.

I was involved with a community that was fighting an industrial development in their rural area. The media loved us because it was mostly simple farm-folk against a huge chemical company and the government. We would end each of our little meetings by deciding what we wanted tomorrow’s headlines to say. Then we would contact the media and put those words into their mouths. It was a little scary.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve worked in local news and (whether it’s good or bad) this kind of thing is common. As an Anonymous Coward indicated above, press releases are commonly picked up by news departments and, if they’re even decently written, read on-air with few edits.

The other (more likely for this case) explanation is that the AP or another large newswire that these stations subscribe to put out this story. (That would also explain why these stations treat it as newsworthy.) AP wires are usually distributed as ready-to-read copy, so producers generally don make major edits and will use the same phrases (“may be about to push the envelope”) that AP uses, however poorly-written they are.

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