Monday, January 24, 2005

"Infamous Terrorist Launches New Attack" or, Local TV News Station Yells Fire in Crowded Theater

Last night, fifteen minutes before the ten o'clock news, K-EYE, the Austin CBS affiliate, announced, "Infamous Terrorist Launches New Attack, tune in at 10."

Holy crap, thinks I.

What's going on? Should I pull out the Kevlar vests, grab the shotgun and shove the whole family down into the fallout shelter? And if we're in imminent danger, why are they making us wait fifteen minutes?

Omigawd! Lord help us all!!

Fortunately, we have the Internets. So, I stopped hoarding gold and boiling water and rushed to my computer and saw the headlines all over Google News: al-Zarqawi has declared a "bitter war."

In Iraq. For the elections next Sunday.

Whew. They were only teasing us about terrorism so we'd watch their broadcast!

Imagine my relief.

I began re-rolling the concertina wire and turned my attention back to K-EYE to see how they'd report the story. But unbelievably, they lead off with the death of Johnny Carson.

Omigawd, they're doing it again--they're terrorist teases!

Now I make my living by taking a complex technology story and reshaping it for the more simple demands of television.

"Will ___________ (insert product here) mean more jobs for the Bay Area? Tune in tonight at 11 to hear about...."

And I've long ago stopped being annoyed when the local weatherman teases the evening broadcast with, "Will it be raining cats and dogs tonight or just kitties and puppies?" I just don't watch TV for weather or news because everything I want to know is an online click away.

But K-EYE's tease was despicable. And post 9/11 what they did was tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Does the FCC get complaints about news lead-ins? Or are they merely the dirty word police?

Thank god for the Internets. And for John Stewart.

So instead of filing an angry complaint with the FCC or sending a nasty email to K-EYE's station manager, I just won't watch their newscast.

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