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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    heyidiot (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    There was a difference...

    Some of them said "EN-velope", and some of them said "ON-velope"...

    Seemed fair and balanced to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    Hey, that last one at least was a variation.

    And there was the one lady who (mistakenly) swapped the word "able" for "about" - this is progress people, this is the culture of remix!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    One lady even said 'TV' instead of Television...

    Maybe television was too big of a word for her so her studio had to shorten it. /sarc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    All these newscasters receive my stamp of approval for pushing the envelope.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Chris Brand (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

      Re: How it happened

      Interesting to see that the URL for that story is .../how-did-28-stations-end-up-with-identical-scripts-for-a-story-about-conan-obrien_b28039
      Did one of the stations change their script ?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      I guess you're right local stations should report on local stories, national news should report on national stories, internet news should stick to stories about the internet. See how that logic fails.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      nasch (profile), Nov 5th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      el_segfaulto (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Willton, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 3:11pm

        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.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        nasch (profile), Nov 5th, 2011 @ 8:06pm

        Re: Re:

        More likely they just don't see a good joke there. They are comedy shows, after all.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

    So is this a form of copyright infringement?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    This is what the internet will look like once the government and multi-national corporations start controlling it. Mass media dictating public opinion.

    Nothing that happens on television (or at the movie theatre) is worthy of local news coverage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    PlagueSD (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    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)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      el_segfaulto (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      Really? I always figured newscasters reproduced by splitting in half. It was the only explanation that I could come up with for all of the blonde airheads on Fox News.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:15pm

    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).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:17pm

    They don't appear to be all from the same day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:44pm

    "push the envelope"

    Is that what they call it these days?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Actually, if you poke around a bit, you will find that many are making reference to a press release sent out by Conan's own people, using that phrase. For many local stations, entertainment news is something they do off hand, as time filler. They likely read the story pretty much right off the press release.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Seemed fare and balanced to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    I was really hoping that all the replies to this thread would be exactly the same.

    I'm disappointed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Blaine (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    A couple of our local 'news' stations read the comments from their facebook page for a couple minutes each episode now.

    They gotta have something to talk about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    At least it isn't content from blog posters or The Huffington Post!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    I wonder when people will just put virtual character on TV and do away with people entirely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Nov 4th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Does not suprise me

    http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main

    MSM has long been a government lapdog.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Guy Fawkes pirate masks for the masses.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/04/world/europe/guy-fawkes-mask/index.html

    They should all buy one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    BUZ SMITH, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    "same sex" wedding on TV

    I think we should start open, live sex contests on late night TV to see who can go the longest before orgasm. After all, that may be legal in some states too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2011 @ 7:51pm

    I was really hoping that all the replies to this thread would be exactly the same.

    I'm disappointed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 5th, 2011 @ 8:13pm

    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.

    They do that, too:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Ryan

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This