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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2011 @ 9:08pm

    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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