Daily Archives: September 14, 2008

Pants on fire

It’s time to call BS on WGCL’s claim of producing the “top stories and tomorrow’s forecast in the first five minutes” on its nightly 11 o’clock news.  On Friday, the forecast didn’t appear until six minutes and ten seconds into the newscast.  On Thursday, it was at five minutes and fifteen seconds.

This is nitpicking, yes.  But the promotion is very specific.  It doesn’t say “in roughly the first five minutes.”  The promotion is objectionable for three reasons:  It’s not true.  It’s unnecessary.  And WGCL insists on displaying its “first 5 minutes” graphic almost non-stop during the first five (or six or whatever) minutes of its 11pm newscast.   This makes it a very long-winded untruth.

Plus, the graphic is obnoxious.  It’s too large and too opaque.  On Friday, during a package on Hurricane Ike, a CBS feed reporter showed waves hitting “this seventeen foot sea wall.”  But the graphic almost completely covered the video of the wall.

Americans have a certain amount of tolerance for little white lies.  The USA will likely give Sarah Palin a pass for her repeated “I said thanks but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere” dissembling.  But we kinda feel like news organizations have an obligation to at least try to be truthful.  If it looks like that “first five minutes” thing isn’t going to happen, then WGCL should get rid of the graphic on that night.  Or, change it to “the first seven minutes.”

Best advice:  Get rid of the promotion completely.  TV newscasts need flexibility.  If WGCL had stuck the forecast into its first five minutes Friday, it would have awkwardly broken up its coverage of Ike and the resultant gasoline price spikes.

The gas price piece, by Christopher King, was a fine bit of news wizardry.  In King’s live shot, he stood before an Ingles store which had jacked up the price of a gallon of gas to $5.25 Friday.  “That’s not to suggest they were gouging,” King said, in a line that probably made WGCL’s lawyers breathe easier.  Then King’s report clearly suggested otherwise.  It was an excellent case of allowing the facts to speak for themselves and letting the viewer decide.

And it deserved its spot ahead of “tomorrow’s forecast.”  Honestly, we can wait for the forecast.  Stick to the facts, as King did.  And stick to the truth.

That’s not to suggest WGCL is lying with its “first five minutes” promotion…

This performance of “Liar Liar” by the Castaways appears in 1967’s “It’s a Bikini World,” which will play in December on Turner Classic Movies.  Our source at TCM says this movie really swings, daddy-o.