I frequently watch local TV news here in the Carolina Lowcountry not because of the information contained therein, but for the comedic value of the content that the stations provide to their listeners. Of course, it is the responsibility of these “journalists” to provide us with updates on weather, sports, crime, politics, and a host of other matters of interest but, to describe their reporting as hard-hitting is equivalent to asserting that you can whip Mike Tyson’s ass with a velvet hammer.
All of the local stations seem to place the entertainment value of the news on a pedestal while thorough investigative journalism is a relic of the past. Case in point: On Oct. 17, 2010, WCBD aired a story about North Charleston police cruisers parking “illegally” at Northwoods Mall. The story was prompted by pictures sent to them by a concerned citizen who complained that the police should be subject to the same laws that ordinary citizens must obey. The whole premise of the complaint was blown away when, at the end of the piece, photos were shown of the curbside where the cruisers were parked. There, in blue paint, was a designation that said “Police Parking”. It was an easy mistake for the citizen to miss this because the patrol cars, once parked, would have mostly obscured the painted signs.
What made the story surreal was the fact that TV-2 interviewed the concerned citizen as if he were some sort of organized crime figure who was testifying about mob hits. The camera shot showed the citizen from the chest down (as he feared retribution by the North Charleston Police if he was identified). He was sitting there, wringing his hands and obviously nervous at the testimony he was about to give. To the credit of the editors at WCBD, however, they did not run his voice through a low pitch filter to further obscure his identity. I also note that they did not make him put a sack over his head.
I fully expected him to blurt out something to the effect: “Yeah, Willie da Mole, I remember him well. He was a snitch and I wuz told to make him suffer. I was goin’ to use an ice pick but decided, instead, to take da schmuck to da woods, tie him to a tree, and feed him to da rats. It wuz pretty messy but it sure sent out a message. I videotaped da whole thing if youse guys wanna take a look-see.”
WCBD recognized the inanity of this report and removed it from their website. If you click on their web page for Oct. 17th, 2010 you can see the lead in but, once you click on the story, you will discover that it has been removed. A wise move on their part.
To be fair, however, the other local stations are equally bad in their presentation of the “news.” Many of channel 5’s promos are stupid beyond belief. I recall the following teases: 1) “Two-headed snake found in South Carolina,” and 2) “Which fast food restaurant makes the best smoothie?”