Revisiting one of my favorite comedies last night, the original British version of “The Office,” with Ricky Gervais playing the Steve Carrell role of paper company regional manager David Brent, I got to thinking of this clueless, self-absorbed and desperate man as a good window into the lives of local news bosses today.
In the final episode of the show’s first season, David Brent is offered a promotion to UK manager–in exchange for allowing his office to be downsized and absorbed by another office, leaving employees laid off.
He announces this as a “good news, bad news” situation, and seems lost to explain the employees lack of excitement over his fantastic new promotion (focused instead on their own loss of work). No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to sell his good news as an “every dark cloud has a silver lining” situation.
And so it is with local news bosses in 2009. In Waco yesterday, KWKT GM Ron Crowder announced a good news, bad news situation to his office: “Our March sweeps were actually pretty good,” reported the wacotrib.com. “To us, we were doing better than we had expected.” So the good news? A new format at 9 p.m. that shortens the newscast, adds more content to the web, and introduces (whiz! bam!) “news blasts” throughout the day.
Dang! Who can’t feel good about “news blasts” for Heaven’s sake?
Well, maybe it was the dark cloud part. Five assignment editors and reporters, including Laura Neal and her husband, sports anchor John Moss were laid off. “We thought we were being called into a conference call with corporate, then we saw five envelopes on the desk,” Neal told the wacotrib.
But… why aren’t people more excited about the Waco debut–maybe even the local television industry debut of NEWS BLASTS? I mean sure, they sound suspiciously like those things we’ve always had in local news that are usually thrown together, pretty lame, and known as “cut-ins,” but maybe I’m missing something: “Crowder said the shift to shorter news briefs delivered during the day online and in (seven 30 second) on-air “news blasts” will provide viewers with a different spin on the news,” reported the wacotrib’s Carl Hoover.
Stop. My analog brain can’t grasp all this cutting edge thinking: are you saying–seriously suggesting–doing BOTH “blasting” and “spinning” at once? Is Waco ready?
Man, with words like that, it sure makes it hard to see this as a lame layoff dressed up with a reduction in overall news coverage and some tired cut-ins used as filler.
But hey, I’m a cynic, right?