Is broadcast journalism's steep decline getting steeper?
Well, this weekend, I caught part of a broadcast of NBC Nightly News -- that's the national one, slim -- in which a reporter (again, this is a national broadcast) covered the Hurricane Gustav story in part by interviewing Louisianans who were fleeing in advance of the storm.
Did I mention this is on a national broadcast?
In place of actual news, this reporter (standing in front of a line of cars who were successfully driving out of town) spent most of his 60-second report "interviewing" two families whose plans to get out of town were temporarily thwarted. One because they ran out of gas (!) and the other because they lost a tire from their trailer (!!). Now, I concede that (a) a blown tire or empty gas tank could happen to anyone, and (b) the New Orleans exodus itself was clearly a national news story, but that doesn't mean that two carsful of people with bad luck was a national news story.
Unless I miss my guess, the only reason they wound up on the (national!) national news was that they had stopped moving long enough for him to ask them some dumb questions.
I submit that this trend toward horribleness is accelerating thanks to poorly trained news producers who do this kind of faux reportage at the local level, are conditioned to believe it's acceptable, and get promoted to national without learning the difference between news and, well, asking people stupid questions while relevant information floats by undisturbed.
Want more bad local news? Check out this coverage of a no-injury shooting in Los Angeles over the weekend. Describing the shooter, the report reads: "He was carrying five loaded semi-automatic pistols with laser sights and multiple loaded ammunition magazines...."
Now, click the video link and watch just the first 12 seconds as our intrepid local news reader seemed to think the phrase "ammunition magazines" refers to periodicals about guns.
She'll see you on the CBS Evening News in a few months.