News Peeves

I’ve been a loyal reader of ShopTalk for years. I remember when it didn’t come in HTML code and was almost a bulletin board type letter about the TV and Radio news business that came to my email address.

This daily email is full of the latest happenings in the industry and usually includes a job move or two at the bottom of the post. One thing that also is helpful is the writing or teasing tips that make each issue.

This one caught my attention and should be enjoyable by newsies and non-newsies.

If anything, you have a new set of rules for a TV news drinking game.

This was put together by Doug Drew who is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications.


News People Are Peeved!

This is week 3, and the final week of getting in all the responses to my question of “What is your pet peeves of news?” After this I am moving on to something more positive, but for now I turn it back to the subscribers of Shoptalk:

Weather

Aren’t we all tired of “team coverage” every time there’s a storm?

Weather forecasters who seem to love to use this little phrase, “here’s the forecast for YOUR Tuesday (or whatever day of the week they’re talking about) Guess it’s not the forecasters Tuesday…it’s just “YOUR” Tuesday

There’s no such thing as a thundershower. If it’s raining, and either lightning is seen or thunder is heard, it’s a thunderSTORM, by definition. Have you ever heard the National Weather Service talk about a thundershower? No, because it’s not in their lexicon.

Meteorologists who say: “…temperatures where they SHOULD BE at this time of year.” False! Weather shouldn’t be anything.

My pet peeve is an anchor who makes a statement about the weather in the weather cross to make them look “smart”, rather than asking a question of the weather person. AHHHHHHH!

The endless branding of weather gizmos: “Super Doppler Plus in HD.” It’s radar, get over it.

It bugs me when newscasters thank the weatherman for the beautiful weather.

Sound

Short soundbites. Two to five seconds in length, accompanied by the person’s long title that is flashed all too briefly.

“Official-speak” on police/fire soundbites.

Stories that open with a sound-bite from a talking head or a reporter stand-up. If a reporter can’t work with their videographer to come up with something more compelling than that, they ought not to be trying to convince me as a viewer that this alleged story is worth watching.

Teasing

My favorite is when I used to call reporter X on the phone and ask what they have on their story for the day: They would say they don’t have anything. Then they walk in 20 minutes later with the greatest sound of the day that they forgot to tell you about and you’ve already put the topical on the air!

The pun-laden tease: coming up our own Sandra dee goes to a local aquarium and has a “WHALE” of a time (cut to video of a whale). har har. Kill me now.

ANY tease which starts or includes the words “Coming Up … “Just ahead …” or a question … especially a really stupid question like “Is your cat getting enough zinc? If not, Fluffy could die.”

News Teases that make a distant news development seem local by leaving out any reference to location.

Teases that start with “There’s much more ahead…”

Teases that summarize the story, instead of teasing it.

Well-written teases where the video gives away the story. (i.e. script says “The one thing that changed the minister’s life,” and viewers see the winning lottery ticket).

Over-teasing a single story. I hate hearing more than two.

Generic “Go to our website for more info” teases following a story.

Lame sports teases that don’t engage non-sports viewers.

Cross-teasing from the end of the early newscast to the late newscast. If it’s good enough to tease thru to the 11pm then it should have been put in the 6.

“Stay tuned to Channel X for continuing coverage of this massive, humongous list of pet peeves”

Talent

Anchors that feel they have to tie the last story into their weather toss in “speaking of fires Harry, it’s gonna be a hot one….”

Anchors that mispronounce local neighborhoods or streets.

Anchor questions after live shots that add nothing to viewer’s understanding of story.

The “active” standup: it’s not enough to be somewhere and relay some information, now you have to walk and move your hands to show people that you’re showing them something, even if there is nothing to show them but you walking and talking down a hallway, up some stairs, around some shrubbery.

Anchors calling their guests by the first names.

Anchors and reporters who insist on closing a story with a personal note such as ” Oh! Isn’t that sad? Those poor monkeys” or “Kinda makes you think about how lucky we are.”

Anchors who, when coming back from EVERY break have to say that they are “sitting in for whoever.”

Miscellaneous

Predictable formatting. All of today’s REAL news is in the “A” block; all of today’s Kinda, Sorta OK news in the “B,” on and on until you get to the last block which is where warmed-over news junk-food lives (or dies if sports goes long).

In-studio morning show segments on health, beauty, etc. that turn out to be ads for specific products.

People who aren’t in television trying to make money telling people who are in television what they should do to make television better.

They’re the worst.

Scripted questions!

When a news broadcast is referred to as a “show!” For example, when a

news, sports, or weathercaster says “we’ll have more on that later in our

show.” It’s not a show, it’s a news broadcast!

Breaking News

“Breaking News” that is often neither “breaking” or “news”: too often it is another shooting, car accident or house fire that has no impact on anyone other than those immediately involved…. and then updating the story an hour later and still billing it as “breaking news”. I swear, the next anchor I hear use the term breaking news, I’m sending them a tube of Krazy Glue.

“Breaking News” of course is so overused these days that it now seems meaningless since most so-called “Breaking News”

has happened hours earlier and nothing has changed to advance the story.

The mention of “Breaking News” being over done is totally true- everything is “breaking News” and for a period of time way too long for it to be breaking.

Breaking news that just throws a few facts at you (which just makes every killing / shooting / fire look the same)

Writing

It’s incredible how often we use the word “incredible” to describe things and events that really aren’t all that incredible. Please make me incredibly happy and give the word “incredible” a rest and reserve its use for something that really is “incredible.”

Referring to men and women as males and females. UGH!

“On the ground” If Joe reporter is not in an aircraft, he is on the ground. Obviously, I don’t need to be told what is obvious. What a cliché stolen from “boots on the ground” when referring to soldiers.

Someone in a car accident was injured when he/she “failed to negotiate a curve.”

Completely destroyed.

“Terrible tragedy.” Is there any other kind?

“Totally destroyed.” It’s either destroyed or damaged.

“Five long years” or “Four short months.” Are we talking leap years and Februarys?

The use of the term “went missing” (or “go missing”). As an English grammar freak, this drives me nuts! It’s INCORRECT. Just say “disappeared”!

Authorities are investigating. (really? I thought they would just give up).

We’ll continue to follow this story and bring you updates (isn’t that your job?).

Overuse of “crews” If someone played a drinking game with every utterance of “crews,” he’d be under the table before seeing the forecast.

How about “team coverage’. Isn’t every story a team effort? Editor; producer, director, reporter.

“The very latest.” Don’t work so hard. I can be fine with just the “latest” news.

“This just in.” Just read the news.

Too many numbers in a short script (i.e. “The fire broke out at 4:21p.m. in the 1600 block of 34th St.”)

Cliché’s after cliché’s i.e.: behind bars, speak out.

Vague words: “Officials” “Authorities.”

Packages on those complex issues that just focus on both sides protesting, but don’t clearly explain what’s behind the protests.

Important, complex issues reduced to :20 VOs.

The endless introductions for an old story, told (eventually) by a reporter standing in the dark someplace where the story didn’t happen, outside a courthouse or on an overpass. By the time the tease and the intros are over I could have gotten through the meat of the item.

“Person of interest” instead of “suspect”

Saying “Issues” instead of “problems.”

Biggest pet peeve is from supposedly intelligent writers who type it, and anchors who mouth the words:

“A whole lot.” How much is that? Is it more than half a lot? Less than two lots? It makes me wince every time I hear it.

“Further” when it should be “farther” (many don’t know the difference)

“Over” instead of “more than” (We learned that in journalism 101)

“News3 was first to report…” (Who cares?)

“Back here live…”

It’s neither plural, nor possessive, leave off the last “S” for Saving. Daylight SAVING Time.

I would love to choke the life out of anyone (and have deleted it from their copy) who uses the following:

Lucky to be alive.

Emotional roller coaster.

Slaying/homicide for killing or murder.

White stuff and all of that other crap for snow.

Citizen, consumer and all of the other alternatives to the word people.

Stale leads, using “tonight” on a story that happened 12 hours ago with no fresh angle or at least writing to make it sound fresh.

Turned the gun on himself.

Tonight. Play the Brian Williams “tonight” drinking game, wherein you belt one back every time he says “tonight.”

Consultants and or ND’s who tell producers to “write the way people talk”.

The dumbing of America continues. We as journalists should hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Thanks for the response.

I appreciate everyone who wrote in. Thanks for sending me your comments. In the coming week’s we will be offering solutions to some of these pet peeves!

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at ddrew@602communications.com. Follow Doug on facebook http://www.facebook.com/dougdrew and on twitter at http://twitter.com/dougdrew

Advertisements

One thought on “News Peeves

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s