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Pretending to be News: Car Chases
Perhaps so called "news agencies" should at least get revenue from the loss of journalistic integrity.


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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.

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