The Rip Post                                                                                              


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(Dec. 3, 2008)

          I have been smiling like a rich, happy-talk news anchor after reading that layoffs are hitting local TeeVee Newsmannequins.
          The NYT reports that 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 coming.
          Hooray! Whoopee! Yahooo! Hey, nonny-nonny!
          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 shirts.
          And that's being charitable, as Hurt's character had some brains.
          TeeVee News---we're 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, Jackie Johnson.

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):
          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 looking and 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 history.
          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. . .

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