Justplainwill will now take your questions. Need answers about life? Love? Happiness? Homework? Or “Would somebody pullease have a talk with John Boehner about all the crying?” Write Justplainwill.
I’m the morning news goddess on a TV station in a large southern city. Lately our ratings have been dismal. We’ve tried everything to attract viewers: bands, clowns, fireworks… you name it. Last week, we even staged an on-air fistfight between the weather guy and the traffic guy. (“Mr. Traffic” won in a knock out.) We’ve even tried entrapment: a few months ago, the management had me pose as a streetwalker in order to troll for male viewers on the street. Except for all that walking, it was pretty easy, since the station requires me to dress like a hooker anyway and especially when I’m on the air.
Management even considered having me do the news in the nude, except that I had to tell them that I still had to have one last, but extremely important surgery needed to complete my sex reassignment. Needless to say, the station manager was simultaneously unhappy… and SURPRISED!
Anyway, if our ratings don’t improve soon, there are rumors that I’ll find myself doing the Farm News from Hahira. I got a World Map and looked and looked all over the Middle East. I figured that’s where a place named “Hahira” would be. Come to find, Justplainwill, that Hahira is in the Middle East of Georgia. And I while I wouldn’t have to wear that burka that women in the real Middle East wear, it’d still be a long drive everyday.
Can you please tell me what to do in order to improve our ratings?
Dear News Diva:
Something really does need to be done about the news, especially since its mostly bad news. Outlined below are some strategies that you might consider. They are taken from Justplainwill’s new book: Television News for Dummies.
Everything is not breaking news.
First, cut The News Hour to the News Half Hour, maybe even cut it to the News Twenty Minutes. Diva, the main thing wrong with the news is there’s too damn much of it. The news is overexposed. There’s just not enough real news anywhere to take up a whole hour, not even at my second cousin, LaShonda’s house on a Fourth of July weekend. The Justplainwill Theory of the News is that the news expands to fill the time and space allotted – like rice, grits, or Charlie Sheen. Many of the people who end up on the news – criminals, politicians, foreign despots, televangelists and Nene Leakes — are “hams,” who crave attention. Most of these folks would generally behave themselves if they knew that they had little chance of being seen on TV.
Also, please stop pressing the button on the Breaking News sign. News does not break every single minute and even the biggest of stories is not Breaking News by the third day.
Television newsrooms seem hell bent on eliciting a gag response from the viewing audience. Everyday. Showing the most gruesome of things such as some guy who has managed to staple his nostrils together or some idiot who has shot himself in the medulla oblongata with a pencil are recent examples. You news people types also have the decidedly disgusting habit of reporting these miserable events with such smiles and glee:
“Mr. Larry L. Larry, the deceased fell eighty-five stories to his death. Yippeeeeee. Back to you, Chuck.”
You report these deadly events as if you, yourself, had just won the Powerball lottery. If that wasn’t enough, you insist on showing ridiculous car chases and perp walks over and over and over again in endless loops. Stop it. Save it for the Star or the Enquirer. Gagging at breakfast or dinner is not what I my idea of a great …well, gag.
Have you seen the eyewitnesses on TV lately, Diva? They are typically disheveled, out of breath, discombobulated, and badly in need of a comb. Occasionally they are covered in blood. I’d bet ‘even money, that a few of them probably need a sudden change of underwear too.
All of this would all be OK if eyewitnesses would give an accurate account of “what just happened.” They don’t. They are typically a stammering, stuttering, eyes bugged out, arm waving mess. From their description, they’ve actually seen about as much as Ray Charles. The other annoying thing about all eyewitnesses is that they insist — just insist — on providing their own sound effects: “It went like YA KABOWEEEEEEEE WOOOOOOOOOOO WHOOOOOOOOOSH” they say.
Or they will say:
“…Yeah, Hal Goodlookinhair from Channel 7, the rob… rob… robber… fi… fi… fired fo… .fo… four shots:… BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!” (You will note also that eyewitnesses usually can’t count very well.)
Get better eyewitnesses.
Enough with the potholes already.
My Gawd, Diva, lately you people have developed a real fetish for potholes. It’s unholy. You’ve actually hired a crew of people, who devote all of their time to potholes. Potholes, Diva. Potholes! Not fixing them, mind you — just finding them! Believe me, when you’ve seen one pothole, you’ve largely seen them all. Unless you find a pothole that has just robbed a bank or has swallowed a Starbucks location, it’s not newsworthy.
(Just between you and me, I would find the “Search for Potholes” more than acceptable, if the lost and found were being filled, fixed and attended too by one of those Has Been’s and Wannabee’s on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Witch Show.)
I hope that all of this helps, Diva. By the way, just in case, Hahira is about 150 miles South on I-75… and good luck with the last surgery.
Write [email protected].