A word to local TV “investigative” reporters: knock of the chases

November 27, 2006

I’m a faithful watcher of KING5 tv news in Seattle. They have pleasant tv personalities, some quirky reporters, and do a generally good job of the formulaic process we know of as local tv news. But they frequently feature an “Investigative Reports” segment that, quite frankly, makes me cringe in as much pain as George Costanza of Seinfeld used to create. It is embarrassing. Susanna Frame is the reporter and I don’t know if it is her, her producer or editor, or the general manager with his eye on the ratings meter that makes her do these things. But every one of her “investigative” reports features an “ambush journalism” sequence of her and her camera crew chasing down some poor soul who is trying to escape from the ambush while she yells at them, “Why are you lying to people.” (See video clips)

Come on, please! This was new and intriguing when Mike Wallace did it about a hundred years ago on 60 Minutes. But is more than passe, it is a cliche and a sad and uncomfortable one at that. Especially when the “gotcha” clip is repeated endlessly on the teasers leading up to the news show.

If this doesn’t show that tv news has devolved to formulaic and trite entertainment, I don’t know what does. KING5 is a great organization, with a storied history here in the Northwest. I hate to see them embarrass themselves in this way. Bullitt sisters, where are you when we need you?

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