My ill-advised and poorly-executed quest for world domination got a questionable boost last week when WXIA aired the first Suspicious Package segment on Sunday’s 9am news. It’s the video above.
Because of its double (or more) entendre qualities, Suspicious Package is the name I sometimes wish I’d used for this site instead of Live Apartment Fire.
The franchise, such as it is, is an inside-ball look at local TV news. No matter how cynical we are, I think all of us in the TV news biz take our work seriously. We value well-told and well-produced stories. We value timely reporting, accuracy and fairness. Our competitive qualities make us better and more aggressive journalists. Our deadlines are facts-of-life.
Yet those qualities that define us — especially competitiveness and deadline timeliness — frequently drive our personnel into weird territory, and the audience sees it. Yes, they’re glued to the tube when they’re stuck at home during Snowmageddon 2011. They want to see what’s going on in the world outside their icy driveways. But they are also clued into our antics, which are mostly driven by our desire to produce compelling material, and the fact that all of us in TV news are flawed human beings.
Local TV news is a source of information. It’s also a bit of a hometown-flavored sideshow. The audience recognizes the silly elements of our business, same as we insiders do. Perhaps even more than we do.
I’m continually amazed that I work for a woman who not only recognizes it, but wants to shed light on it, and isn’t afraid of the audience’s reaction to it. This on-camera bit was Ellen Crooke’s idea, not mine. She pitched it when she first hired me. I stalled for months, then scratched out a couple of scripts in November, and shot the demos while on paternity leave. Except for requiring that I appear clean-shaven, she didn’t change a thing.
You are free, of course, to dispute or add to the points I’ve made. It’s just one bloke’s opinion.
The second piece is shown below. Here’s your insider look behind Suspicious Package: I shot them both the same day. But for the second one, I zipped up the hoodie, hiding the t-shirt underneath, arguably giving the audience the impression I had dressed somewhat dissimilarly for the two pieces.
As if anyone really cared.