We keep a close eye on local TV news during the November ratings period (a.k.a. "sweeps") so you don't have to.
Here's how Day 1 (Thursday) went: Crime, crime and more crime. Most of it sex-offender-related.
Channel 13 had the big scoop of the day with an "exclusive" interview with Timothy Lee Boggs (left), the sex offender who was released recently and had trouble finding a place to live.
This was, indeed, the first interview Boggs has given, so kudos to reporter Serene Branson (below, right). And Channel 13 made sure we all knew it was an "exclusive," teasing to the story all day with scary synthesizer music.
You can check out Boggs' interview on Channel 13's Web site, but here's the quote of the interview from Boggs: "I wake up one morning and think, 'Gee, I'm a child molester.' "
Before airing the interview, Branson was debriefed by anchors Sam Shane and Pallas Hupe and said, "Boggs wants to convince you he's not a monster." The interview itself was a fascinating look into the mind of a sex offender, but we could've done without the eery music, shots of a rumpled bed and empty swings on a children's playground. Way too over-the-top for us.
Channel 3 went the crime route, as well. On its 5 p.m. broadcast, it introduced a new service on its Web site called "Crime Tracker." As reporter Mike TeSelle breathlessly reported, with a few quick clicks of the mouse, you can find out all the crimes that have been committed in your community - providing you live in Sacramento. Oh, and there's a 30-day lag in the reporting of crimes on the Web site.
TeSelle took a laptop to the mall and showed young mothers the site. "Wow, cool," exclaimed one. That stunt smacked of blatant sweeps self-promotion. Channel 3 had a little embarrassment, too, when TeSelle tried to call up an address live, but the site froze. "Hit enter, and in an instant you'll see ...," TeSelle said. "Uh, if it doesn't freeze on me here...Well, we've got a small problem."
At 11 p.m., the always-compelling Channel 3 consumer reporter Lynsey Paulo had a report on HOW YOUR REALTOR MIGHT BY A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER AND YOU DON'T KNOW IT!!!!
Actually, it was a much less sensationalistic report than the teases promised. Paulo had solid reporting. But - and this is a big but - Channel 3 was a day late on the story. Channel 13's Kris Pickel aired the exact same piece on Wednesday night, a day before sweeps began.
Fox40 and News10 - to their credit or detriment, depending on your thinking - just delivered the news Thursday night, reliable and nonsensational as usual.
And today, the Web sites of Channel 13, Channel 3 and News10 all offered live streaming video of deputy Jeff Mitchell's memorial service at Raley Field.