September 22, 2007
If LA Car chases are news for national consumption, then
television broadcasters need to do a better job of using
it to generate ad revenue.
Excluding the BBC as the only real professional
broadcast news service, CNN, Fox, ABC, and all the rest
only pretend to present news. We should recognize them
for what they really are - distributors of "Newsertainment".
Now don't get me wrong, there are a lot of professional
journalists that do a great job and go in harm’s way to
provide the American television news audience with
local, national, and global news. I just take umbrage
with the notion of a CNN or Fox broadcast of a Dallas or
Los Angeles car chase as worthy of national recognition
as "current events".
I begin watching the drama unfold - a stolen vehicle
being chased by 3 police cars and 4 news helicopters
careens through midday traffic putting his own life as
well as the lives of others in danger. I think of how
only the pathetic uneducated masses would actually think
this was news. I pooh-pooh it, and turn away. Ten
seconds later I am craning my neck over the cubicle to
see if this nonsense is still on...still on. I submit to
the drama and find my eyes slowly drawn to the screen
and ongoing pursuit. I resolve myself to join my fellow
employees taking in the drama.
So it isn't news, and if a formerly respected agency
like CNN or Fox wants to show it and pretend that it is,
well that's their business. My only suggestion is to do
what they have now become good at - exploitation.
You have a captured audience remembering the heady days
of O.J. and the white Ford Bronco. We are glued. Instead
of shrinking the screen to show a still photograph of a
questionably qualified reporter on a phone, throw in
some relevant advertising.
Now hear me out on this. If people are willing to imbibe
on the eye candy of something as base as a car chase,
they deserve to be pelted with some carefully crafted
ads. These ads are preplanned for such an event and the
concept is already alive in radio ads. How many ads
start popping up on the radio for home battery backup
systems when a big storm is in your area? Same concept.
Ads ready to go for when the event is occurs.
As the chase begins to be televised, a sidebar ad pops
up for "Ed's Driving school". The police back off as the
"perp" nearly misses a compact car in the intersection.
Up goes the ad for insurance -”Nationwide, because life
comes at you fast". Or better yet, have a computer
animation of the Geico lizard run after the offending
vehicle trying to wave it down. The chase speeds up and
slows down - ”Have your brakes checked at Meineke",
"In-and-out service at Jiffy-Lube" - and finally ends
with a collision with a dump truck. Roll the life
insurance ad, followed by the ad for a national law firm
specializing in criminal matters as the police face
plant Billy Bob into the asphalt after dragging him out
of the car.
The longer the chase, the more adds you display. I am
just shocked that Rupert Murdoch didn't think to do this
yet. I mean, this guy is a real capitalist. All busy
with the Wall Street Journal I suppose.
After that, I return to the solid, stoic, and rational
moderator on the BBC, churning out real news with no
fanfare and accurate reporting. Maybe it's there accent
that make me take them more seriously. Of course, that
all gets balanced with the fact that they have
newspapers like The Sun, also owned by Murdoch.