Daily Archives: November 19, 2008

The ultimate tough question

Jennifer Mayerle, WGCL

In too deep: Jennifer Mayerle, WGCL

Last week, WGCL produced what may be the oddest November sweeps piece of the month:  Jennifer Mayerle’s report on whether God exists.  She traveled to Tulane University, where a professor says that he can scientifically prove the existence of God.

Mayerle’s piece was stylish and interesting.  It was stylish because of its editing, juxtaposing the professor’s chalkboard scrawl of mathematical formulas with religious images.  It was interesting because of the buildup.  The professor was a non-believer turned Christian because, he said, he had found the proof he’d sought.  “Physics just says, God exists,” Frank Tipler tells Mayerle.  “God is the singularity,” he says, as if that explains it.

But what was the proof?  Mayerle’s piece utterly failed to answer the central question, and did so with the professor’s ultimate cop-out:  “I can’t explain in five minutes something that took me twenty years to learn.”  Mayerle’s piece concludes with that soundbite.  It leaves the viewer feeling a bit cheated.  Not that any viewer would actually turn to local TV news for validation of faith.

WGCL does deserve some credit for giving a little thoughtful attention to a tough TV subject.  It’s not a typical sweeps product.  Mayerle’s piece still had some depth, attained by her interviews with other theologians who told her that it was kinda silly to try to prove God’s existence through science.

But if the TV station says it’s going to “ask the tough question” — and then build an entire story around it — then it’s obligated to at least try to get an answer from the one guy who claims to have it and can prove it.  No such luck here. Grade: C