Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Media Rant: Winning

No, this is not about Charlie Sheen and the media’s incessant coverage of this man who’s made a living telling dirty jokes to a pre-pubescent boy. It’s about a topic I may have issued a rant or two about in the past, namely, the excessive weather-nannying by the local TV stations.

I think we’re winning the battle. By “we”, I mean those of us who have an IQ somewhere north of room-temperature.

I wrote a screed about the over-the-top weather nannying on our local TV stations for an online news publication last year, and it generated the biggest response of anything the site had done in months. Opinions ran heavily in favor of my rant against the constant, stupid, annoying interruptions, with the whirling symbols on the screen that look like tornados (one of the stations had SEVEN of them on the screen at one point) and the senseless repetition of obvious information.

The biggest push-back to the screed was from four local TV folks – two weathermen and two people in news management. I think they were angry that I exposed their “scientific terminology” (terms like “Storm Mode Doppler” – there is no such thing; Doppler Radar is Doppler Radar) as mere marketing language. But, as I’ve said so many times, these people will tell you that they’re in the business of saving lives, so arguments involving logic and rational thought fall on deaf ears.

But I think there’s a crack in the wall now.

This past Sunday, when we were under a Tor-Con 8 watch (another piece of marketing language from the Weather Channel….Tor-Con is a made-up term standing for “Tornado Condition” that the folks at the Weather Channel invented in an attempt to give themselves a marketing edge), I DVR’d three of the local channels (3, 15, and 27 – 47 takes its news/weather/sports stuff from Ch 27 and the others don’t play the weather game) and it became apparent that somebody – I’m guessing at a pretty high level in their station organization chart – told the weather nannies to keep their stuff in commercial breaks whenever possible, and NOT to cover up network programming.

That’s progress. They still have a map that covers the lower left part of the screen, a “crawl” either on the top or bottom of the screen, and those annoying BEEPS that drown out the program audio – but, it’s apparent they’re under orders to ratchet back the fear and minimize the interruption of programming.

We’re winning. Small battles, to be sure, but the changes I noted last Sunday evening bode well.

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