by RIP RENSE
(Dec. 3, 2008)
I have been smiling like a rich, happy-talk news anchor
after reading that layoffs are hitting local TeeVee Newsmannequins.
long-time anchors are being sacked in Denver, Chicago, Miami (it's already
happened in L.A., with John Beard at KTTV, replaced by the more ethnically
correct Carlos "Smiley" Amezcua), and that more TeeVee News cutbacks are
Hooray! Whoopee! Yahooo!
Yes, yes, it is true that
there are some TeeVee reporters and anchors with credible reporting
skills---you know, who do more than pose, and babble manically in front of a
burning house, repeating the same non-information, melodramatically
intoning, "Reporting live from. . ."
Maybe four or five. . .
But the majority of
anchors and reporters at cloned local stations across this grate nashum
have all the journalism know-how of William Hurt in "Broadcast News." You
remember, the only thing in his desk was a couple of freshly laundered
And that's being
charitable, as Hurt's character had some brains.
talking local, not network---long ago degenerated into brain-deadeningly
predictable, punishingly formulaic, demographically dumbed down recitation of the same
old stupid crap every day. Car wrecks/murders/fires/
floods/photo-ops/talking heads/are-you-ready-for-The-Big-One? With the glossiest,
emptiest concession to politics and issue coverage, and certainly little or
no community advocacy. All delivered with phoneybaloney show-us-your-teeth
doll faces, and banter so saccarhine that it would make Hallmark throw up
(alternated with the ubiquitous we-are-so-concerned arched eyebrow,
just for. . .gravitas.)
(And let us not forget,
Oh ratings Lord, the holiest of holy---the O.J. Memorial Car Chase. Complete
with Chick Hearn-like play-by-play from the chopper.)
Want to be a TeeVee
Reporter? You'd better look like a high school cheerleader or a varsity
letterman, learn to nod at the start of sentence, shake your head from side
to side in the middle, and nod again at the end. And speak in a weird
near-shout that never existed before the boob tube, or a lobotomizing coo
like veteran local anchor Ann Martin, who famously explains that she
delivers the news as if she is reading to an elderly aunt.
Oh, and if you want to do
the weather, you'd best either be a big dumbass jock (meatier-ologist) or a
piece of arm-candy fit for Hugh Hefner, with mammary glands that could nurse
an army (me-teat-orologist.) This means you,
Boob tube: KTTV's Christine Devine (left), KCOP's
Lauren Sanchez. Enormous journalistic gifts.
It takes more
journalistic ability to compile the entertainment listings in the LA Weekly
than it does to sit in an anchor chair at KTLA and read badly written,
poorly informative copy, night after night. Recipe for newswriter: get
cliches, string together with conjunctions and verbs, add more cliches.
I'm always just short of
shocked to read the very occasional interview with a local anchor and find
that he or she actually has the ability to think, and some semblance of
reporter's instinct. Not that I can recall when this last happened, but I
know it has. At least I think it has. Well , maybe not. I mean, have you read some of the blogs "written" by TeeVee Newsmannequins? Take a look at KTTV anchor
Christine Devine's. This
thing reads like something from a high school newspaper. Where are the
little stars and flowers and models with big eyes and long lashes in the
margins? Sample (errors and caps are hers):
"WITH THANKSGIViNG ABOUT
OVER, I'M PREPARING TO PACK AWAY THE CERAMIC PUMPKINS MOM MADE YEARS AGO. I
ALREADY PUT OF A WREATH MADE BY A FRIEND. AND I LOVE MY FIREPLACE
STOCKINGS... WHO KNEW THEY CAME FROM "ROSS DRESS FOR LESS"!!!"
And get this: she and
Smiley Amezcua have been brought in to replace the
newsbimbos on channel 13 because. . .they weren't serious enough!
Hahahahaha! Of course, 13's
Rick Garcia (yet another TeeVee Newslatino who looks about as ethnic as
Joe Biden) and that cleavage-flaunting newsfloozy, Lauren Sanchez, practically
boogied as they read copy that must have been written by really smart
chimpanzees. In India. Wait a second---they did boogie, but had the
sense to do so between stories (so as to allow the news segments their, uh,
integrity?) I kid you not.
Sanchez couldn't possibly have become successful in her profession by
dressing like a Vegas hooker, could she? You see her and you want to ask
how much for ten minutes in the back seat. And her ethnicity couldn't
possibly figure into things, could it? Nah.
These no-talent, no-skill
nobodies and their clones across the nation have risen to their princely
positions---and salaries often in the hundreds of thousands of
dollars---entirely on greed, aggression, looks, breasts, backbiting,
ethnically correct features and/or names, worthless journalism schools, and the "judgement" of a "news
director" looking to sate some perceived demographic. That's it. I tell you,
I can't wait---I am licking my chops, salivating like an old slavering
wolf---for more of these people to be tossssssssed. . .out! On their
designer wardrobe-encased asses. How delicious it will be!
And dare it be
entertained that some of them might even be. . .unable to get another job?
That they might have to work at Starbucks? Ross Dress for Less? You know,
after the money runs out and the way cool million-dollar condo in
downtown/Brentwood/ Wilshire corridor/Santa Monica (Montana Ave.) is sold at
a loss, along with the red Beamer ragtop and Range Rover. . .
For those of you
thinking that this is just ever so slightly harsh, let me pose a bit of a bet. I'll
wager that there are no more than a handful of TeeVee Newsmannequins in L.A.
right now who can write a coherent, competent news story for a major
newspaper. These people are readers and faces, not reporters (notable
exception: Fox's John Schwada, who has a substantial background in
print media.) Oh, the field reporters write? Sure. They "write" little
"stories" of oh, a hundred words. . .littered with incorrect grammar,
sentence fragments, unanswered questions, rote phrases, and always entirely,
miraculously with only the gerund variant of the verb, "to be." It would be
funny, if these people weren't richer than many kings and queens in human
Yes, local TeeVee News
has always been ridiculed for being shallow, but even when
it was staffed by reporters of some substance and skill, back in the '60's
and '70's, it never seriously pretended to compete with the in-depth
coverage that a newspaper could offer (some multi-part investigative pieces
excepted.) It has long since become so glammed up and denuded of hard
information that the days when KNXT anchor Joseph Benti caused a ruckus by
refusing to engage in "happy talk" chatter with co-anchor Connie
("Eyebrows") Chung have become quaint. The late George Putnam, for all his hot air
and persona, was Walter Cronkite when contrasted with. . .Mark Brown. . .Laura
Diaz. . .Kent Shocknek. . .
So throw the bums out.
For that matter, throw local TeeVee news out. It's almost 100 percent
worthless, in its present entertainment-poisoned form. It's long been a
show, not a news broadcast, anyhow. As I have written before, the way to go
is to hire actual reporters---based on their skills, not looks or race. Let
them go on the air in their own clothes, ketchup stains, bad hair, no
stage make-up. Get rid of teleprompters and have everyone read, glancing up
at the camera now and again, so as not to affect that hideous half-shouting,
nodding, head-shaking, eye-widening robot delivery. Get anchors who are fat,
short, pock-marked, pointy-chinned, flat-chested, in rumpled clothes,
drinking coffee, picking their noses. It's so outrageous, it might get ratings.
You know, maybe a
bunch of laid off L.A.
Times/Daily News reporters and other out-of-work journalists can get a public access sort-of-station going on cable, and start
covering the city hard and tough, advocating for the community and against
smiling mountebanks like Villaraigosa. Taking on the fact, for example, that
this place has been overdeveloped into near unlivability by arch-venal
robberbarons like Alan Casden, with nary a peep from councilpersons or supes.
Right, that'll happen.
And maybe CEO's will stop flying around in private jets, and give all their
bonuses back. . .
© 2008 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.