Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, July 20

Uncynical and Undercover

I was heading into the police station and ran into an acquaintance. I’d seen him at parties and exchanged a few pleasantries before, but we’d never really talked.

I was a little horrified to discover what he did for a living. He was there, in front of the police station, with a van and camera and a sound guy.

‘Funny,’ I thought, ‘he didn’t really strike me as a jackal.’

The local television news is to journalism—as far as I’m concerned—what pedophiles are to the priesthood. The perfect medium for empowering people to participate in local politics and issues—where individuals can have real impact—the local news is used for nothing more than fear mongering and lasciviousness.

I don’t think I need to expand on this. The Daily Show has been pointing out for nearly ten years how exploitive and useless the local news is.

I hoped he’d be reading his notes and tried to hurry by, but he saw me and said hello.

‘Hello,’ I said, feigning surprise, politely ignoring the camera beside him, ‘what are you doing here?’

‘Well,’ he said, gesturing to the van and camera, not even slightly embarrassed by it, ‘this.’

He told me about a child who had been missing for five months and how the ransom/reward was being increased and how the family--

‘Well, I really must be going,’ I said, walking into the station, trying not to sound repulsed by what I was hearing. ‘Good luck with the whole kidnapping, or whatever.’

When I came out of the building he was still there, talking on the phone with what I assume was his producer. He flagged me down, suggested we meet for coffee, and handed me his card.

See, here’s the thing. He seems really nice. I can’t figure out if he knows what evils he’s committing in the name of journalism. Do you suppose he thinks hearing about kidnappings will be useful to someone? Or that the ‘local angle on the Michael Jackson case’ is anything besides lurid? Does he imagine that those stories are the sugar they use in order to broadcast hard-hitting reports on… on… on what? Steroid use among professional athletes? The weather?

I’m well aware that this doesn’t sound very uncynical so far. But here’s what I’m thinking, I’m going to do some undercover reporting of my own: Looking into the mouth of cynicism. I’m going to have that coffee. I’m going to sit down and look into the abyss that I fear is there and hear out the confessions of a television ‘journalist.’

Stay tuned, true believers... for uncynical over coffee


Blogger Emily writes:

I totally agree; I think that Jacksonville's local news is a joke. Especially FOX...if I ever wanted to tortue someone, I'd start by making them watch our local news. I'm so curious to know who your friend is....


Blogger dan writes:

I can't stand the local news, especially their "local angle" spin that is supposed to directly draw you into the terror as a viewer. It's amazing when way up here in Minneapolis, we get commercials on the news prompting us to stay tuned to the discover "the hometown connection to the Florida shark attacks!"
Are they kidding?


Blogger Erik writes:

I will not be identifying him or his channel. I have no interest in embarrassing him.

That would be lurid.


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