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March 4, 2005

What Cable News Means

Posted by admin

This week confirmed my thought that the umpteen cable channels available 24/7/365 are hindering our opportunity to actually get the news in a timely manner.

This story started last Saturday. I walked into the kitchen and a News Flash was on the Fox News Channel. There was a press conference on and the words BTK Killer were on the screen. Serial killers intrigue me in books; they do so even more so in real life and I assume BTK is a serial killer. So I stop to watch. Even though I never have heard of BTK before.

45 minutes later I still am trying to figure out what I am watching. I have figured out this is taking place in Wichita, Kansas. I realize that this killer has been on the lam for a pretty long time. I am watching speeches about teamwork, sympathy for the victims, and on and on and on by every official in Wichita and every law enforcement team in Kansas. They all are repeating the same thing. And I have absolutely no clue what is going on. I switch to CNN. Another 30 minutes of not grasping WHAT the STORY is. (Fox at this point had cut away to some other show.) Finally on the screen the killer's name/photo pops up and in about 3 minutes an off-camera commentator sums up the story.


Finally. Only 75 minutes to get the story. And WHY we were watching. While I watched I made a killer three-layer chocolate cake and homemade frosting. I figure I mixed and baked the cake before I figured out what I was watching on TV.

BTW at this point NO one still ever explained what BTK stands for. I figure that out when I read news online later that day.

Now tonight we are on Martha Watch. It's all Martha, all the time. Cable news has deemed that we are watching and waiting for Martha to leave prison.

I am wondering if anyone will have the story I want to know. I am curious about one only thing. Martha's hair color. See I really think Martha colors her hair. Come on...that is blonde that costs bucks. Sooooo...when she leaves prison will she have killer roots, or is some fabulous colorist there at the prison to make her hair all glowy? Seriously. This is why I will watch. To see if she has roots. I fear prison because I fear my roots. Let's see who has THAT story. THAT is the real story. No pun intended.

I think of cable news overload a lot. A couple of years ago I did a spot on the local CBS channel on the 5-7 AM news. From there I drove home to NJ and changed into cutoffs and a t-shirt to work for the day on a sunny summer Friday. The phone at the house rang and it was the Fox News Network. They asked me to come back to the city and reprise what I said on the local news. I loathe Friday traffic and am not very excited about this, even for national news. They then say they will send a car for me. I like that. I like car service.

Sooooo I get gussied back up and go back to NY. When I get there I meet an exhausted looking producer. We chit and chat while I am waiting to go on for my 4-minute spot. There is some derailed train somewhere that takes precedence. He explains to me the challenge of filling the airwaves 24/7/365 with the bone weariness of a line worker at an auto plant doing triple shifts. I think of that guy when I watch cable news. And I wonder if he burned out yet. Or got weary trying to tell the story

Or remembered what the story even was!