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November 28, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 26

Terry Gross.JPG
Et tu, Terry Gross?

So I’m driving into work this morning, feeling more than a little weary from watching all the crime and sex during local TV news sweeps. With just two days of sweeps month left, I decided to cleanse my media palate, as it were, by tuning into NPR and highbrow interviewer Gross (pictured left) on “Fresh Air.”

And what do I hear just as I punch the pre-set button?

An author talking about “raunch culture” and something about “Girls Gone Wild” videos and “hos (whores) on rap videos waxing cars with their body parts.”

Yikes! You just can’t escape it!

Anyway, back to TV sweeps.

Channel 3 did its “special report” Monday night - part 2 of the series airs tonight at 11 - on online sexual predators. Pamela Wu told us these guys (and they’re almost always guys) “groom girls for sex.” She interviewed a woman who says that, as a girl, she was wooed by an older man online but was saved by a computer game that told her of the dangers. Now the woman works for the organization that makes the game.

I liked the report - mostly straight-ahead, no eerie synthesizer music - though at this point in sweeps, I had the feeling I’d seen this report before.

The other interesting thing Monday night were the stories that the stations chose to lead the late news.

Fox40 led with a home invasion in south Sacramento (the only station to report it). Channel 13 led with a report called “Preying on Patriotism,” a bogus e-mail scam from a “soldier.” (No other station reported that). Channel 3 led with whether the Iraq conflict should be called a “civil war.” (It was one of the rare times any station has led a newscast with reports from Iraq). And News10 led with a dispute in the Bay Area 'burb of Lafayette over a roadside Iraq war dead memorial and whether it was an anti-war statement or a pro-troops statement. (Again, it was the only station in Sac to cover it).

What does this tell us?

I’m too tired to suss it out. But how about this? On nights when there’s no obvious lead story, we get the most diverse news of the month. And - I think - that’s a good thing.

Other highlights:

* I’m proud of our local reporters for finally realizing the marketing gimmick that “Cyber Monday” truly is.
* I also had been really proud of our local weather guessers for not succumbing to hoary meteorological cliches. But Channel 13’s Angelique Frame (right), during a live shot from Blue Canyon, broke the spell: “It was a winter wonderland...enough white stuff to even make a snow man.”

* Banter of the Night Award goes to News10’s Dale Schornack and Patty Souza (left). After a report on “Cyber Monday,” Schornack turns to the weather guesser and the two talk about Souza’s penchant for online shopping.

Dale: “You are depriving people of seeing Patty Souza at the mall in a T-shirt and tennis shoes.”
Patty: “No makeup. And look at her wrinkles!”

Dale (turning to the camera): “She has no wrinkles.”

Patty: “I do! Wait until we get high def.”

* Banter Award runner-up goes to Dave Walker and Lois Hart, spouses and anchors on Channel 3. After KCRA’s Cyber Monday report, Walker mumbled something about shopping for kitchen products.

Lois: “That’s not what I want.”

Dave: “...You don’t want to get anywhere near the kitchen.”

* Alliteration of the Night: To Channel 13’s Kurtis Ming on this tease: “Rebate reality or mail-in migraine?”

* Compelling story: News10’s Tim Daly on what it’s like being a Cal-Trans worker doing construction on a freeway with big rigs bearing down on you. We’ll never complain about having to watch TV again for work. These Cal-Trans guys have got it a lot worse.

Compelling story II: Fox40’s Louisa Hodge reported on a wedding at the Sacramento County clerk’s office that was threatened to be postponed due to a fire alarm. Seems the bride and groom, who were in their traditional East Indian garb, had to catch a flight this morning. But the clerk eventually married the two off.

* And finally, what happened to Channel 13’s Kris Pickel? We’re watching her do a live shot from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart when suddenly she says, “Sorry” to someone outside of the shot. Then, the camera goes off.

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