Sunday, July 29, 2007

OMG, That's Shocking! Or: How I Learned To Hate The Teases And (Sometimes) Love The Package

Hi everybody. Back when I first started this blog, I used to do a pretty good job of living up to the "other newsy musings" part of the mission statement (at the top, people). But lately? Not so much. I'm going to try to remedy that by getting back to doing special posts every once in a while. Hopefully once a week. Um, okay, hopefully once every two weeks. Like before, the posts will either be about 360 specifically, the news in general, or a certain news topic that strikes my fancy. As you've probably already gathered from my title, this post is about 360's teases and how they have a tendency to be, shall we say, over-the-top. And I really don't understand why, because the packages themselves are pretty even-handed. To be clear about what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the teases that are throughout the whole show, and not so much just the beginning.

In fact, the beginning has undergone a dramatic improvement since Anderson started doing it himself. Some of you loyal viewers might remember that the beginning used to contain dramatic action movie music that was accompanied by an over-the-top voice-over performed by a guy I lovingly referred to as "Announcerman." Let's just say it left some viewers wondering whether they were watching the news, or a trailer for a Jerry Bruckheimer film. So yay for that tweak, but now there's this other thing. It may have always been like this, but lately I've been noticing that 360 seems to really want us to be shocked about, well, everything. Every other story is something we're supposedly not going to believe or is in some way, according to 360, going to shock us.

For example, take the show from July 25: Up top Anderson summarizes the Gary Tuchman piece about the immigrant who got off on rape charges because they couldn't find him a translator. We're then told, "You will not believe this story." Later on we get another tease: "Coming up in the rest of the program tonight: a story about justice denied that will shock you..." Then right before the story we're told, "And the more details you hear tonight, the madder you will likely get." And this is not the only story in the broadcast where we're told how we will or probably feel. This broadcast also contained the verdict against one of the cops accused of beating Mr. Davis in New Orleans. Again we're supposed to be shocked: "And, as you will see, it's a shocker."

There are also many other examples that aren't quite so blatant, but have an air of over-the-topness, especially when put together with music/graphics or a certain delivery. Actually, the whole teaser issue really came front and center for me after David Mattingly's piece where they blew up the car to see how much damage the recent UK terror plot could have caused. I was one of the skeptics, but the teasers caused me to change my mind. Then in the actual piece, David explains that bombs like those are mostly just used to incite fear,...which is pretty much what I thought in the first place. That's not the impression the teaser gave.

So I guess what's bugging me here is that the teases really have a whiff of Foxification to them. No, Anderson's not giving us his opinion, but we are being told how to feel and basically to get our blood pressure up. The purpose of the tease is to get viewers to stick around, but why sensationalize the stories like that? It's as if they don't trust us to stick around to watch a well done news story; they think we need it made all flashy. It's a little insulting. And I'm pretty sure that goes against what Anderson and the show believe in. They're about the facts (as they've told us many times) and that's why I like them. I already watch a cable show with leading copy (of the political kind), I don't need another. The teases also really play into Anderson Cooper as the emo-anchor, when anyone who actually watches the show regularly knows that's a false title. Apparently he drew the short straw on that one. (Seriously, you get justifiably upset one time, and you're branded for life.) But, you know, someone just flipping channels who catches one of those teases, I can see why they might call him that.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm quite cynical, but it's not like none of this stuff ever shocks me. I just don't want to be told I'm going to be shocked...or outraged...or whatever. Because it's a bit like crying wolf. There should be varying degrees of shock, you know? When they treat every story that might anger up someone's blood the same, it dilutes everything. And again, I'm also talking about the overall sensationalism of the teaser copy. I mean, I don't think 360 really wants their viewers adding a "Dun dun dun!" to the end of their teases, which I find myself doing many nights. So anyway, this is just two cents from someone who watches closely. The news story is what's supposed to matter. If it's good journalism, people will watch. If it shocks someone, then it shocks someone. But give us the facts and let us decide.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I have a pretty good idea why 360 has jumped onto the shock!train, but whatever. It's very strange to hear Anderson utter such overly dramatic words like "it's going to make you madder", that's not his style, or at least it hasn't been in the four years I've watched him. I really dislike fear-mongering my local news channels are rife with that. I don't want to see it on 360, but I suppose they gotta do what they gotta do. Thank goodness Announcerman is gone. He was beyond annoying.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Rickman said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Though in a way, Anderson *is* giving us his opinion; doesn't telling us "you'll be shocked" imply that he was? I don't need to hear all that crap to stick around for the broadcast. Just stick with the facts and please, please let me have my news straight. It's virtually impossible to find straight news on TV at all anymore, and 360's (and CNN's) continued slide toward, as you say, Foxification is costing them viewers. The over-the-top graphics and music are already a big enough problem--don't add to it with over-the-top words coming out of the anchor's mouth!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Arachnae said...

Yeah, and sometimes he's WRONG. For instance, I'm not shocked by dogfighting. Disgusted, sure, but not shocked - I know people can be scum.

11:27 PM  

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