The reasons why I normally do not watch television, let alone news broadcasts are as numerous as the inane comments made on the nightly news. Watching grown adults, presumably educated, say and do the most ludicrous things; could make the staunchest anti-drug enthusiast reach for anything to forget what they had seen. I chose to visit KTLA’s website and watch samples of all their news broadcasts. I decided to do this, not because I have a masochist streak; but, rather to try and divine differences in how the news is presented based on the time of the broadcast. In order to do this, I chose to view two news “stories” from the following news times: Morning news (4am to 9am) KTLA’s @9 broadcast, the 6pm and 10pm news broadcasts. In the following, I will review and discuss each news broadcast as it pertains to itself, with a concluding synthesis, on how all of these are, crap info-tainment shows, and can not rightly be called news.
KTLA’s morning news broadcast is actually one of the more news rich environments I found. The two stories I reviewed had to do with a school being closed and a car crash on the 10 freeway. What was of note with these two news stories was the fact that the typical male-female roles had been reversed. The news story about the school closure was reported by a man, where as the more violent car crash had been reported by a female news reporter. I draw attention to these facts here, because in the later news broadcasts the sexual role bias had been so pungent as to make me want to through my computer out the window. As for the content of these news stories, out of all of the time slots reviewed, were, seemingly, the most news worthy; however, the piece about the school being closed of have done with some kind of analysis, as the reasons stated “poor academic record” and the fact that all of the staff, including support staff, were to be fired, seems to be contradictory.
The most nauseating time slot for news on KTLA has to be their @9 news show. During this news slot, the full array of stereotypes were on offer. From the “happy” blonde to the ethnical ambiguous serious female and token male dumb ass, this news hour was one long info-tainment special. The first “news” story, that I reviewed, featured Daryl Hanna; who was there to promote a new board game she developed. Now, the game itself did seem somewhat interesting; the basic premise of which is that everyone writes down the first sentence of a novel, and then have to guess, which sentence is the real first sentence. The fact that the news casters decided to play around, which involved a Christmas Carol, really underlines that this was not a news program, but rather an hour long commercial. As for presentations, it was interesting to note that the “happy” blonde chose the most intellectual sounding sentence (which was wrong) whereas the token male, chose the correct answer. The answers chosen, respectively were: “Ebenezer Scrooge was aptly named” and “Marley, was dead to begin with”. The second news story was about the “happy” blonde’s house, and how her house wasn’t happy at all; but, according to an interior design expert, rather sad. After watching these two news stories, I seriously considered pounding my head against my desk, until my ears bleed; however, I pulled myself together, and sallied forth onto the next time slot.
The news at 6pm again showed some role reversal in their lead story. The lead story how to do with the death of an Angel’s pitcher who, along with his passengers were driving through an intersect when struck by a drunken driver. Here, we had a full female cast of reporters both in studio and in the field. Sports, which typically are geared towards men, in this context were reported exclusively by women. Hurray, for shallow equality. The second news story for this time slot had to do with a female, who attacked and killed another female, by hitting her with an SUV. The motivations for the murder are described by the in studio newscaster (male) who says: ” a torrid love triangle turns deadly” The “in the field” new reporter (female) takes it from there, where she explains the circumstances which lead to this brutal murder. I only go into detail of the contents, as a way of intruding this rather bazaar observation: Namely, the only other person to appear in the news story was a police officer who too happened to be female. Perhaps, it is a product of over analyzing, but it does seem a strange coincidence that a news story about a lover triangle between two women and a man, was reported by two women and a man.
Finally, the 10pm news. Again, filled with trite and senseless banter, the 10pm news was actually an hour long infomercial. The two stories I reviewed, though guised as special interest stories, where, actually, commercials. Google, was featured in the first story, with the launch of the new Google- Goggle: an application that allows the user to take a picture of anything, and perform a search on it. The second story involved some rare form of parasites attacking dogs; which they then, dutifully suggested you take you pet to the Veterinarian and get antibiotics. The story about Google, was a straight up piece of commercial news, where the only people reporting were men. Apparently, women do not use Google, nor care about new applications. In the news story regarding your pet “pooch” the news was reported by a bubbly burnet in the field, and then transferred back to the more somber male newscaster in the studio. Again, within both of these news stories, classic stereotypes were reflected.
Synthesis, could it be done with these selected, albeit random news stories? Could some sort of conclusion be drawn from KTLA’s local news broadcast? Realizing, these questions, are really beyond the scope of this essay, I will still attempt to broadly outline some key (reoccurring) themes that were observed. Gender roles are still those of the 1950’s with some shallow attempts to appear egalitarian. For the most part, local news, is one long info-tainment show, with little practical news content. The morning news shows having the lowest news to commercial ratio. The banal Barbie banter, during the morning news, is probably an attempt to make the viewer “happy” before they drag themselves to work. And, finally, if one really wanted to watch some slightly meaningful news, they would have to tune in at 4 o’clock in the morning. I understand that these are broad statements, and perhaps a little pointed; but, when one is confronted with lines such as: ” your dog, can pick up the parasites, where other pooches pooped.” It seems only obvious to say that the local news is being produced for 3 year old children, who shouldn’t hear naughty words. (I mean, really, why couldn’t they have at least used feces or excrement, why poo? Was it only for the alteration fun? ) As a concluding aside, I would like to pose this question; is the local news a reflection of our current culture? Or is it by its very nature, an influencing force one our culture? I would like to believe it is the latter, as that would imply hope for change; however, my deepest Orwellian fear is that the former is true, in which case, this essay along with anything else slightly critical or thought provoking will surly be filed in the memory hole.