CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Not to be dispiriting, Ed, but you are way off on this one ("Local TV 'news' a waste of time," March 28).
First of all, your disparaging personal attacks tend to overshadow any point you might be making. Also, starting sentences with "Listen, people" makes you appear to be a pompous know-it-all speaking down to his minions. The readers of this newspaper deserve more respect than that. But I digress. You call local TV news a "waste of time" and bring up one of the three tenets of journalism: Newsworthiness (the others being Timeliness and Proximity.) But I don't believe you have a comprehensive view of what that entails. In fact, I find your definition quite limited in scope.
You seem to be under the impression that only investigative journalism qualifies. I agree that this type of reporting can be a strong part of any station's repertoire. I also feel Eyewitness News does a fantastic job of bringing such stories to viewers who benefit greatly from our being an advocate for them. But I vehemently disagree with your assertion that stations not focusing solely on investigative or exclusive pieces are not providing anything useful. I believe you called everything else "cosmetics."
I would ask you to tell that to the lady who personally thanked me for staying on the air for five hours immediately following the pipeline explosion in Sissonville. You see, Ed, she had a friend who lived in the area and was "worried sick" because she hadn't spoken with her all day. She spoke fondly of how we kept her calm and informed through what was undoubtedly an anxious afternoon. You might also want to survey the dozens of people who e-mail Kennie Bass daily about his Waste Watch segment, which details exactly where your taxpayer dollars are going. And since you are so well-informed, even without the help of local news, I can safely assume that you know all about HB 2717. It will provide bulletproof vests for thousands of officers who would otherwise go without. That bill was sparked by an Eyewitness News initiative spearheaded by Leslie Rubin. She also anchors our Fugitive Files, which takes wanted men and women off our streets and just hit the 500-capture milestone. Who knows, Ed, one of those fugitives might have lived on your block!
What concerns me more, however, is how you resort to personal attacks. You don't know me, Ed. We have never met. I called many of my colleagues and most said they don't know you in any capacity other than in exchanging superficial pleasantries at local functions. From this, I must surmise that your label of "glib" is merely an assumption with no merit. I can further deduce that your classification of reporters as "bubble-heads" must come from what you've heard on TV. This makes me think you might have ditched some important classes in Broadcasting 101. You were obviously present on the day we learned to avoid alliteration. You seem to have a firm grip on that one. Bravo! However, I fear you must have missed the day we were taught that all broadcasters should convey their thoughts clearly and concisely. Less is more. The most effective way to communicate is through simple sentences (subject-verb-object) using the fewest words possible. I'm worried that you're confusing "clear and concise" with "bubble-headed." Promulgating perplexing prose on the public does not make us powerful pontificators. See what I did there? Oops. Just because we don't use the flowing verbiage of an award-winning author does not mean we don't have command of the English language.
And guess what? Using simple sentences serves another purpose: It doesn't waste your time. Ah, the irony. By the way, the people I know in TV news are among the smartest, hardest working, and most intrinsically motivated people I know. Your stereotypical description is, at best, a misguided conjecture; at worst, it's blatant ignorance.
Perhaps the icing on the cake is how you summarize your entire discourse. You spend the first four paragraphs on a diatribe full of straw-man arguments, misconceptions, and a cry for all local stations to exclusively generate content befitting "20/20" or "60 Minutes" (we disagree that viewers only care about "Gotcha!" journalism; countless market research backs me up.) But then, you suddenly admit that budget constraints make it impossible for local stations to deliver daily the types of stories that take network stations a week to produce with ten-times the staff. In essence, you dilute your argument by arguing against yourself. Talk about a waste of time.
Lord is a local TV journalist.