CNN Headline News
Saturdays and Sundays, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Everywhere in the media these days are opportunities for you, the viewer/listener/writer, to contribute “content” — which is what used to be called “stories.”
NPR lets listeners tell us what they believe. Current TV, the channel Al Gore started, gives its audience multiple opportunities to report stories and even make ads. And CNN Headline News has gotten into the act with a show called News To Me (12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays), in which “citizen journalists” submit “user-generated content,” which is industry-speak for “free labor and cheap programming.”
I watched News To Me last Saturday, and all I can say is, you will have to do better. A cat that lives in a truck? A story about a woman who has run marathons and climbed mountains (including Everest) on all seven continents? Random stuff from YouTube and people’s Web sites?
Sure, you brought homemade video of the Carolina furniture fire that killed nine firefighters, but what did that add to the story except a slightly different vantage point? Yes, you showed us the guy who spray-paints graffiti on concrete roadblocks in Baghdad, but so what?
Eric Lanford, who wears an untucked shirt and dirty jeans and does marginal impressions of people like George W. Bush, hosts News To Me. Sometimes he interviews the people who submit their stories and other times he’s the narrator for what is essentially a collection of “waterskiing squirrel” features — the fluff that used to go at the end of nightly local news.
As any real newsperson will tell you, news is serious. There’s a war going on, you know. There’s a health care crisis, the environment is in the dumper and everywhere you turn, there’s an illegal immigrant. If you’re going to be a journalist, you’re going to have to report the kind of stories that dominate our news programs and newspapers.
I watched News To Me closely, folks, and you didn’t contribute anything about Paris Hilton, the missing Ohio mother or which presidential candidate is leading in polls that are utterly worthless this far from the primaries. I’ll expect better next week. Or you’re fired.