This Just In….

You’ve lost me.

Oh, sure, I probably should have put something in the title that let people know this was intended for our news providers to read–especially radio and TV–but they wouldn’t bother anyway. They know better.

For starters, you’re reading something right now that was written by a news junkie. A guy consumed with what’s going on in the city, the nation and the world. I need to know everything that’s happening, especially for my hobby of writing jokes. For the longest time, I had my DVR to catch a 5 o’clock local news, and then a 5:30pm National News broadcast. My choice for quite a while was the #1 most watched newscast, ABC News with David Muir.

But that has now been deprogrammed from my VCR.

If you care for my opinion and maybe even be open to hearing my reasons for being done with that daily routine, here we go:

  1. It’s old news. For starters, the evening news used to be a nice collection of everything that happened in the day, for those of us who were too busy with life or work or family to try to catch one of the newscasts on the radio or TV. We’re no longer dependent on that. If you care, you receive a constant stream of information 24 hours a day on your phone, tablet or computer. By the time 5pm rolls around, the local news may contain a new story or two, but it’s usually a rehash of what we heard the day before.
  2. It’s bad news. I gotta say, locally, FOX 13 does a nice job of telling me things I didn’t know. Oh, they include the bad stuff, but the “bad stuff/new stuff” ratio is much better there. The rest of the locals all showcase the latest shootings or the continuing COVID saga. Add to that having a spouse that has hit the wall on negative news coverage and, if I am going to try and watch a newscast, I do it later in the evening after she’s gone to bed. And of course, by then, its old news.
  3. It’s repetitive news. I know its a tricky balance between telling people actual news, and repeating something they may have missed, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same b-roll from the day before as I’m being told this is ‘breaking news’.
  4. Crying Wolf and not Blitzer. As much as I enjoy ABC’s coverage, the hype has worn thing. Watch the opening of “World News Tonight” and you’ll, “Breaking as we just come on the air”, “Breaking news” or “This just happened….” Rarely true. And again, unless its a seriously new breaking story, west coast viewers are getting a newscast 3 hours old.
  5. Now there’s News on Demand. For breaking news about major stories, I keep an eye on the Drudge Report and CNN. If I’m sitting at my computer, I can just say to my Amazon Echo, “Alexa, play ABC headline news” and if the missiles have actually been launched, they’ll tell me. Anytime I want.

So, what’s the answer? I truly don’t know and wonder if the “Evening News” is just an outdated model that will eventually go the way of the local daily newspaper?

Now, I know I’m about the farthest you can get from a ‘typical’ viewer. I get up at 4:45am every morning to write for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service for disc jockeys. Yes, I’m writing up stories about news items that won’t be used on the air for another 24 hours, but that’s why I write up a salad of stories and news items that, when you hear them, you’d say, “Dang, I didn’t know that!” Plus, that makes the radio listener think more highly of the voice passing along these stories, like, “Boy, they sure know everything that’s going on!”

So, when I’ve fed my last Radio-Online tidbit of information, it’s around 9am. When things happen during the day, I’ll add them to the feed, so that tomorrow morning, there’s as current a collection of information as possible.

Perhaps the TV evening news is hanging on thanks to a dwindling population. If you watch who the advertisers are during the newscast, you can see they skew older and disease-ridden. Really, how many medical disclaimers can you take in a 30-minute period?

Legends have occupied that space in American homes over the years: Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, Huntley/Brinkley, Peter Jennings, oh, and Frank Reynolds. The technology was different back then. A nightly newscast was the only place you could get a roundup of what happened during the day. These days, the evening news best serves the graveyard shift worker who slept until 4 and wakes up to watch while eating a bowl of cereal.

I used to watch for nostalgia’s sake, but I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to let it go.

Plus, it allows me to get caught up on “Barry.”

It’s all about getting the most out of your available time.

Tim Hunter

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