For the last few weeks, I've started to sense that KTVT-Channel 11's newcasts have been a little...oh...I dunno...edgy, but not in the good way. There's just something sort of panic-striken about them, something a little too urgent -- desperate, that's the word. The anchors and reporters and the weather people now always look like they're about to cry or shout or rend garments or something. And, yeah, they've gone all Channel 5 on us, by which I mean Channel 11 is trying to scare the shit out of you with crime, crime and more crime. Tracy Rowlett, a man who never suffered a broadcast front-loaded with the grim and the gory, got out when the gettin' was good.
Like, during Tuesday night's severe-storm outbreak, TXA 21's meteorologist Garry Seith was on Channel 11 and started feeling the weather at you, rather than merely reporting where the funnel clouds had been spotted, as Pete Delkus was doing over on Channel 8 and David Finfrock was doing at Channel 5. Karen Borta and Doug Dunbar -- who are no longer allowed to introduce themselves on air, not kidding -- looked like they were about to reach for the Kleenex and a fresh pair of underpants and maybe a shotgun.
Turns out, I am not imaging this. And now I know the reason why.
Ed Bark has an interview with new CBS11 news director Regent Ducas, who explains they're taking "a more topical approach" to the news over at 11. Uh, like, what's that mean? And is that your real name? And your Peabody Award? No, seriously.
In short, the "topical approach" means no more issues pieces, say reporters over at 11 -- issues pieces being the longer and more thoughtful stories that actually affect people who might be interested in watching Channel 11 when they're really thinking about tuning over to Channel 8. We hear reporters over at KTVT are now beginning to refer to themselves as "ambulance chasers," as they sit around the newsroom and gather 'round the police scanner and wait for something big and breaking -- something bloody, pleasepleaseprettyplease.
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I think this quote from Ducas in Ed's piece give you a good idea where his head's at:
"My lead story may not be the most important news of the day, but it's going to be the freshest, most topically driven news that the viewer will be able to get in the area."
Yeah. Fuck important.
Ed's piece is a great start on what's up at Channel 11, but when Ed writes that "some reporters were very afraid at first and some still are -- privately," he's only barely scraping the surface. How? We will get back to you. In the news biz, that's called a tease. --Robert Wilonsky