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 V.15 No.48 | November 30 - December 6, 2006 

Thin Line

A Print Journalist's View on TV News--I've always harbored a simmering hatred for TV news.

It all began when I was a wee lad of about 7. Another young boy had, against all good sense, gone skateboarding in an arroyo. A summer flood caught him and he drowned.

"And channel whatever was there, exclusively, to report on this harrowing tale of courage and tragedy, because we are No. 1.”

I still have nightmares about arroyos.

This displeasure has grown over the years. About two months ago, I retired as an entertainment writer and took a print journalism job in southern New Mexico writing straight news--murder, mayhem and meth: The three m’s that make this state what it is.

Since I am a now a duly qualified professional raking in hundreds of dollars a month, I feel like it's my sacred duty to rail against the TV news apparatus, as those yahoos are now my competition.

Every newsroom is like a street gang (a la Anchorman). Call this a print hack’s attempt at a drive by.

First of all, I'm sick of hearing about how much each station rules and all the awards they won. You can’t even fill a half hour with news, and whenever pertinent information does arrive--like the latest counts in the Wilson-Madrid race, or nuclear fire raining down on the state--you say, “tune in later today.” If I wanted to wait 12 hours, I’d read my paper ... tomorrow. Tell me now. Instantaneous updating of information is a distinct advantage of television, yet it's squandered with prepackaged “news segments” about the latest way to lose weight and still eat 12 pieces of fried chicken, or silicone versus saline implants.

Secondly, you spend a whole lot of time airing these self-serving little fluff pieces about yourselves. Most recently was a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” segment--actually, three--last Sunday about Cynthia Izaguirre. I can’t stand bootstrap stories unless they're about a Sudanese refugee who opened his own chain of Starbucks. That, my friend, is compelling. These nauseating attempts at street cred started when I was in college and I almost vomited on my desk every time some middle-class philosophy major in designer socks launched into an elegantly punctuated anecdote about “growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.” True, Izaguirre is the daughter of a poor immigrant woman, but save the biopic for when you die. Peace to Ed Bradley.

Third, and this goes back to my original complaint, all the self-flattery is panic-inducing from the standpoint of a print journalist who only receives the occasional death threat for his troubles. We are here to report the news. That's our job. Your paycheck is your thank you. Stop patting yourselves on the back because you let us know what’s happening on YouTube this week.

Finally, stop breaking the weather into 12 parts. I know what you're doing. You're trying to get me to stay tuned through the entire show. Besides, it’s a desert. Flooding this year notwithstanding, what is going to change?

In the blandly paraphrased words of the mad prophet: I’m as mad as hell, and I probably won’t take it a whole lot longer, at least not when “The Simpsons” come on. Then I definitely won’t take it anymore. Damn, I’ve seen this one. Fine, I will take it some more.

Go buy a newspaper.

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