Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Paula Zahn NOT

Does anyone else watch Paula Zahn Now? Does anyone else watch it, like me, because it is so godawful that it must be seen to be believed?

The CNN write-up gushes, "Paula Zahn NOW offers a chance to hear from people who matter, talking about the most pressing, most relevant and most essential topics of the day. Every night Paula tackles politics, justice, entertainment, business or health, with a line-up of contributors who are among the smartest and most intriguing people in their fields. On "Paula Zahn NOW", the most challenging questions will not only be asked -- they'll be answered."


Here is a transcript of a recent show I watched, and I have to say that it seems far less chaotic and thrown-together when it is written rather than viewed:

"ZAHN: Joe Johns, we're going break off here for a moment and come back to you in just a moment.

Senator Lieberman is now talking to reporters or -- who is it now? Senator Warner. I don't see the picture yet. So bear with us. This is breaking news. We'll go to whichever Republican is talking now. They keep on trading the microphone here.

And now, of course, with my luck, no one is talking."

But here is my favorite segment of the program, the Person of the Day bit. Apparently, CNN's assessment of "a line-up of contributors who are among the smartest and most intriguing people in their fields" includes anyone with A) access to the internet, and B) the time/inclination/boredom to vote for a theoretical "person of the day." The best part of The Person Of The Day bit is not simply that it is not journalistic or at all meaningful (does TPOTD win a free IPod? A trip to Puerta Vallarta with Bob Barker? A year's supply of Rice-a-Roni: The San Francisco Treat?), but that it offers the following asinine ballot:

"And time for all of you to pick the "Person of the Day." Your choices are Sergeant Mike Hall, the Florida police officer who found an eight-year-old girl buried alive inside a dumpster at a landfill.

The 14 senators who averted a nuclear meltdown in the Senate by negotiating a solution to the filibuster impasse.

Or Afghan President Hamid Karzai for coming to Washington to try to forge closer ties with the U.S.."

Gee, I don't know. The guy who saved an 8 year old child---a leader looking for more loans and aid---or 14 arrogant, pompous, badly-coiffed senators? I just simply can't decide. What a bold decision by CNN to offer such challenging choices. I sure hope Paula has a crack lineup of "smartest people in their fields" to help me pick! Because the stakes have never been higher, the need to let my voice be heard never greater, the ramifications of my vote never more far-reaching...

Ah. Hell with it. I'm changing the channel to Maury. Same level of intelligence without the pretense that it's journalism...


Reverend Raheen M. Shabbazz said...

The only journalism I see on my TV is on PBS. The rest is sensationalistic celebrity worship "infotainment" at best.

delaïdo said...

Latest Person of the Day: "Tony the Tiger" voice Thurl Ravenscroft , for building an entire career on one word: "Grrrrreeeat!"

This is not a joke!

Raine said...

The fact that media provides this stuff is not the media's fault. It's the countless people who watch it and support it that make the business.

Oh, and E, I didn't see the Haggis as an applicable choice for TPOTD. I'm sure you'd have a lot more to offer, than say, senators.

E said...

This is making me wonder: why don't the laws of supply and demand work for 24-hour news programming? Everyone says, "Well they've got so much time they have to fill and not enough news, so they put in filler..."

In any other line of work, if you have a dearth of material with which to work and a surplus of competition doing it more effectively, you tend to go out of business.

Why aren't more news shows going off the air if indeed there is "not enough news" to fill a program?

Seems logical, right?

Raine said...

Actually, there's no shortage of news. There's enough going on that one needs only to "turn on the tap," as one of my Journalism profs put it. The problem lies in the demand and interest in what's aired or published.

You see, most of the "real" news is either underexposed, or uninteresting to the common person. So news outlets are forced to drop the less interesting (but ultimately more important) news in favour of the stuff that is guaranteed to make an impact, and thus, money.