We are in a golden age of television to be sure. I watch a fair old amount of scripted shows, mostly dramas (I occasionally watch Big Bang Theory, but that show is well past it’s glory years). What I rarely watch is TV news. I get almost all my news from the internet. I say almost because the exception is first thing in the morning. While I am pulling myself together and getting dressed, for about half an hour, I have the TV on with one of those local morning news programs on. It’s a mix of local news, big national stories, weather, traffic and human interest pieces. It’s all repeated on a 15 minute cycle because they know that people only tend to have them on for short periods of time.
Being in a major market we have about five to choose from, and we have been through them all. Over time we have ditched them as they decended into vacuous unwatchability. Now I get that people don’t want a steady diet of doom and gloom over their coffee, but with show after show gradually any sort of actual news related content was replaced with thinly disguised advertising segments. It started with live remotes, as the roving reporter showed up at a local bakery where she was humourously allowed to make eclairs, or a hard hitting piece on an Apple-like lineup in front of a newly opening shoe store. With one local station it was shoes, it somehow always ended up being about shoes. Morning show after morning show all became unwatchable even for fifteen or twenty minutes. We are currently on the last show available to us, the morning show from an independant staion in a small nearby city (we don’t get local traffic, but the weather is close enough). But recently, in lieu of human interest stories, they have started doing a segment where they show short clips from the previous nights late shows. I understand that they are provided these by the networks and it’s a revenue stream. They are just making a practical financial decision. But holy shit, can I not watch TV for fifteen minutes without it being about celebrities or consumption?