Watch Out!

Ah, TV. We can learn all about death, poison and cat torture ... Isn’t that pleasant?
Ah, TV. We can learn all about death, poison and cat torture ... Isn’t that pleasant?

I hate local TV news. I decided long ago that I was going to stop watching it, because every time I catch a glimpse of the 10 o'clock headlines I get a strange feeling that I'm going to erupt in hives, or some serial killer's going to crash through my window, or my morning cereal is going to poison me, or the sky is going to fall ...

Most of us are familiar by now with the fact that TV news is sensationalistic, that it pimps out stories on death, fire and general mayhem because gore and fear are what draw viewers to their programs. We've gotten used to it, and none of us demand much more, so the TV networks just continue on. We watch, they feed it to us. Which is why, as I stated earlier, I decided to expel their dribble from my diet.

Then I became a reporter--a career choice that unfortunately requires one to watch the TV news now and again, like this last Monday night. The opening sequence of channel 7’s 10 o’clock news was so horrifying I wrote it down. It went something like this:

● Las Cruces received another extortion letter threatening violence at area schools if the city doesn't pay up.

● Also in Las Cruces, a teenager was wounded in a shooting at a high school football game, thought to be unrelated to the extortion letter. Channel 7 handled the story with real class--they showed a home video of the teen getting shot, zooming in on a splatter of blood on one of the bleachers.

● Then there was a quaint segment on the U.S.' most dangerous cities--St. Louis made the top of the charts. Albuquerque wasn't even mentioned (which begs the relevance question) ...

● ... followed by a story on "tricks" in your kids' treats on Halloween, and where parents could go to get bags of candy scanned. ("Scanned"--are you freakin' kidding me? The reporters were "shocked" local hospitals didn't provide the service.)

● Speaking of Halloween, the station thought it was important to talk about registered sex offenders, and the fact that they had a curfew on All Hallows' Eve.

● And, while they were on it, they brought up the trend of disturbed adolescents torturing black cats on the night, and warned owners to keep their pets inside.

● The international news mentioned? Thirty-three people died in a bomb Monday in Baghdad. Another U.S. soldier was killed. October was the fourth deadliest month in the history of the war. A Nigerian plane crash killed 96 people. There's "unrest" in Oaxaca. A fire in Southern California killed four firefighters.

That was the first 10 minutes. Cut to commercial break.

The point of this rant isn't that those stories didn't deserve to be reported--some certainly did. But, c'mon, there are other things happening in town--in the world. It's not all shootings and threats and poison and torture and death and fire and plane crashes. At least give us a spoonful of sugar--then I might have a chance of walking away from the evening news without visions of a bomb going off in my fridge.