The next time I watch the 11 o’clock news I’m checking for an Adam’s apple. Let me explain… I was unknowingly tricked into watching the after prime-time news. I was tuned into a ball game, and when it ended-it actually ended. Normally that “buffer” of listening the post-game bore off is a benign enough space to decide my next time sucking vampire move. However, the nightly news detonated on the screen like a drag queen bursting into a hotel room for a bachelor party-sporting full make up with their cock taped out of sight. This stunned along with confused feeling is the same one I get when I call my parents: I dial the phone, expecting to get their voice mail, but they answer instead which completely throws off my mental compass. By the time I figure out what is going on I’m in the middle of a conversation about the fucking weather.
With heavy competition from cable, the Internet and psychics, local news is really only slightly better than smoke signals and really only useful for rural school closings or slowly bringing a coma patient up to speed. Let’s face it, if you regularly watch the 11PM news in the 21st century your first priority is not to be informed, it’s to be the first one posting video of an anchor or reporter’s epic fail on YouTube. The model for the modern newscast was conceived before everyone had smart phones giving them the world at the end of their arm so they had to drink at work all day to keep occupied. People don’t want to wait until the end of the day to find out what’s going on, however they still watch TV, so all it really takes is a few nips and tucks to make the 11 o’clock news relevant again.
1) STOP CALLING THE PROGRAM “EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Who has the time to be an eyewitness? Any time something happens any potential witnesses are so busy snapping pictures or hand held video of the scene for their Facebook page they didn’t actually see anything. All you have left is a shaky shot of a either a robbery or a penguin getting kicked in the balls. This is probably a good thing because in my neighborhood, if you are an eyewitness on Tuesday, your photo is on a telephone pole with the word “missing” under it on Friday. Eyewitness accounts are way too long anyway and end up sounding like when some spazz at work tells a joke that includes every detail but a punchline. People tend to understand more when the information is inferred with a nod and a wink, so Let’s change the title to “Didn’t See Nuthin’ News” and have reporters whisper the stories with their hands cupped around one side of their mouth. You will get more people will tune in every night to see if the anchor that gave out a little too much information last week ever comes back from their “vacation”.
Anchorperson 1: “Here’s the latest on the fatal shooting that occurred downtown tonight…”
Anchorperson 2: (Whispers into Anchorperson 1’s ear)
Anchorperson 1: “Really? (Looks around and under the news deck nervously) Sorry folks… Umm… Turns out nothing happened… (Stares at camera uncomfortably for 10 seconds) Nothing at all…”
2) STOP USING BULLSHIT LIVE REPORTS.
The 11 o’clock hour is full of much more entertaining choices than this parade of Summer stock has-beens in self tanner, so instead of the lonely reporter in the parking lot, trick us into thinking we are flipping through other channels by giving live reports of the shows we are missing. Being live on the scene of a news story that happened 5 hours ago is a waste of time for everyone involved because live or not, you’re still late. The live reporter is news department code for “freshly promoted intern” and must be like trying to nail a 73-year-old stripper– All the real action happened a long time ago and so many people have trampled through there you need to run the vacuum in the high traffic areas. Who are you there to talk to? Those mixed up in the reported doings are either at home, in jail or on their way to a new life of changing hairstyles and learning Portuguese, so an interview is out of the question. I can’t be the only one wondering why the station sent some tool down to City Hall in the rain at 11:15pm when even the cleaning crew is 2 hours gone OR, why in the name of imperial FUCK any one cares what is going on at the State Fair. If these reports have to happen, let’s give the reporter a chance to give a quality answer.
Anchorperson: “Let’s go to Bob Phillips who is live at the Fairgrounds. What is going on down there?”
Reporter: “Well it seems they have actually found someone with a full set of teeth! But as it turns out, they were not attending the fair; they were lost and just stopped for directions out of this cesspool. I pleaded for a ride, however the car was full. Back to you.”
3) DON’T TEASE US.
In an effort to get you to watch the news, the stations will pepper the daily broadcasts with gems like: “Deadly radiation levels in a local neighborhood. Is it yours? Tune in at 11 to find out.” DEADLY RADIATION? You need to tell me that information right fucking now! I’m not sitting through a Ralph Macchio dance routine to find out if my skin is going to melt into my socks. Don’t pimp me-if the shit was that thick you would break into Dr. Phil to give me time to evacuate. You want me to watch your show? Entice me the same way Maxim magazine would-showing stuff I want and articles about how to score it. Spin the news to help us achieve our goals. Don’t promo that an elderly woman died from the heat-let us know a desirable apartment just opened up. Guy dies in a car wreck across town? Who cares? Newly widowed MILF needs a shoulder to cry on? You just got my attention over the west coast ball game I was thinking of watching.
4) CUT THE IDLE CHITCHAT.
We are led to believe that everyone on the newsroom set gets along. This just in: THEY DON’T! This is a job and people who work together don’t get along because they don’t get to choose who they work with. Everyone bites the bullet on the broadcast since time is short and everyone is afraid to start another drunken rampage by the pistol waving veteran anchor that usually addresses his abandonment issues by crying himself to sleep. Let’s let the anchor decide who the on-air team should be. Things are always livelier when friendships are solid enough not to buffer comments out of respect to good taste. Bringing in a team of friends may not be the most professional thing to do but hearing a story about how the sports guy lost his pants on the subway en route to job interview would be far more interesting than a report on the local lunch moneyless spelling bee champ.
5) GIVE THE WEATHER EVERY 4 MINUTES.
The weather. That’s the only reason we watch this 30-minute time siphon anyway, so bring it on! To be fair don’t give all the time to the “Meteorologist” (BTW if anyone EVER tells me that is their job title-they get their head snapped back on the spot.) let the other newspersons toss it in as well. No need to interrupt the flow of the broadcast. Tell us the high and low temperature, then throw us the sunny, cloudy, windy or rain element, drop in a story then hit us with the weather again. Do weather related story and the (drum roll) weather again. Give the weather while doing the weather. Anyone that gives the barometric pressure gets tazed.
6) DO AN ENCORE
If you did a good job, come back and take a bow. What should you do for an encore? The weather daddy-o.