WOIO Channel 19 is the CBS affiliate for Cleveland. CBS strikes me as being a network that takes news seriously (the Walter Cronkite legacy, shows like 60 Minutes, and hiring Katie Couric to anchor their evening news). Could CBS be as ashamed of the tabloid journalism style of Channel 19 as I am? Many Cleveland area residents I know are also embarrassed at Channel 19’s sensationalistic news reporting. I sometimes interpret 19’s styles as clear dislike for the city and its residents, seeing that the station appears to go out of its way to make the city look as bad as possible.
I have no problem with any station reporting the news in a hard-hitting fashion. I do have a problem when the news story stoops to serve the lowest common denominator, or sensationalizes even the simplest stories. I'll give you some examples:
Watch their traffic reporter Rick Abell and you’ll see a true unprofessional. Almost every driver is an “idjit” in his eyes, regardless of the reason for the accident or traffic problem, sometimes before he knows if the accident victim is seriously or fatally injured. Their reports on restaurant inspection violations would be informative enough, without the shouting of “CLEAN UP” at the end of every story. Let’s not forget the constant over-promotion of Sharon Reed's "over-exposure" in her story called “Body of Evidence” where she posed nude, along with many others, for a nude photo shoot by Spencer Tunick in 2004. Also a topic of much discussion was Sharon Reed’s shameless sensationalism and self-promotion when she received a phone call from a friend of alleged killer, Bobby Cutts, Jr., providing some details, albeit sketchy, of the incident. I could go on, but you already get the idea.
Now, Channel 19 reached deep into their garbage bag of stories to bring Cleveland viewers “The Orgasm Diet” on the 11:00 PM news for Monday, November 26, 2007. Yes, I did say “The Orgasm Diet.” The promotions for this story are running at various daytime hours, insuring that someone’s kid is going to see it and probably ask some questions. Now really, is this a topic fit for a real news show? Maybe it’s something more appropriate for the Jerry Springer show, but not something I need to hear from the local news.
When I see the local news rankings in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Channel 19 appears to always been in or near the rating basement for almost every time slot. This should tell them that what they are doing is not working to gain viewers. It’s great to want to differentiate one’s newscast from the rest, but Channel 19 shouldn't dumb down the content in order to gain viewers. It’s great to want to expose problem issues and areas and bring them to the forefront, but do it in a way that reports the news impartially, factually, and without all the personal opinion or derogatory comment.
Am I going to watch “The Orgasm Diet?" No way. I’d rather not waste my time. But I will tell Channel 19 that if they ever want to be considered a credible source for news in the Cleveland area, they really should look at themselves first and “CLEAN UP!”
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