This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Fri., Feb. 15)
02/18/13 09:30 AM
By ED BARK
Even during a ratings "sweeps" period, stations tend to phone it in on Fridays. As do many of us.
Still, Fox4 and NBC5 had late night newscasts of some distinction, with the latter station's Deanna Dewberry (on the phone above) making the most of a story on disappointed recipients of damaged Valentine's Day flowers.
Billed as a "consumer specialist," Dewberry went to bat for women who got revved up by special holiday deliveries -- only to discover that their promised roses or floral arrangements were dead, wilted or droopy within their boxes.
She contacted both ProFlowers.com and FTD, which had "hundreds of complaints" on its Facebook page, Dewberry said. Both companies issued the usual pro forma statements about how satisfaction is guaranteed although accidents occasionally happen. But aggrieved customers often are left hanging on the phone while enduring interminable wait times, Dewberry said.
This is the sort of relatable story that viewers talk about the next day. And Dewberry did a good job of showing, telling and reporting before co-anchor Brian Curtis exclaimed, "The pictures are just crazy!" Easy now.
Over on Fox4, anchors Heather Hays and Steve Eagar made optimum use of live, in-studio interviews with experts who added considerable perspective to the preceding stories on returning Carnival cruise passengers and the big meteor explosion over Russia.
The station's featured one-hour 9 p.m. newscast affords more time for such extras. It also gives the anchors a chance to think on their feet and contribute something of worth rather than throwing out those oft-clunky scripted questions to reporters in the field.
Hays talked to personal injury attorney Mike Freden, who said the Triumph passengers basically are sunk when it comes to suing. They signed away most of their rights before boarding, he told Hays. That includes any class action lawsuits or individual allegations of mental cruelty. "If all you have is emotional distress . . . then you can't sue," Freden said. And he sounded like a guy who knows what he's talking about.
Eagar interviewed Don Garland of the Noble Planetarium, who brought some heavy space rocks with him to show how lethal they can be when raining down in abundance. But Garland also noted that asteroids' paths can be diverted or their orbital motions changed if there's enough time to do so. That didn't happen in the case of Russia, with more than 1,100 people hurt and more than 3,000 buildings damaged by the fallout.
During Friday's extended "Viewers' Voice" segment, Eagar also answered queries about the previous night's oddity. As noted in these spaces, reporter Fil Alvarado's live report on the manhunt for Alberto Morales was preceded by this out-of-body, off-camera declaration: "I never dreamed about being naked at work."
"No, it wasn't Fil. He was collateral damage," Eagar said. Instead the sound bite came from substitute sports anchor Max Morgan in connection with footage from a locker room interview that aired on the day after Christmas.
"It played by accident," Eagar said. But the station let viewers have their fun, with one woman asking in a voicemail, "Is Carnival running your soundboard tonight?"
WFAA8's resident stylist, reporter David Schechter, had a lengthy "Forgotten Technology" story that didn't quite jell. He interviewed a man with a fondness for taking Polaroid pictures, a true believer in vinyl (Bill Wisener of the venerable Bill's Records) and a coffee-making purist.
Schechter's overall conclusion: "There's still a place for the joy of analog in our digital world."
In the real world, vinyl records have long been in a big comeback mode, with many new and old artists still releasing LPs while young listeners enthusiastically buy and prefer these versions. Many who grew up in pre-CD/digital download times -- guilty as charged -- also have found that old record album covers can make great wall art. It's almost like collecting baseball cards, with some "mint condition," hard-to-find sleeves commanding big prices.
Anyway, Schechter's story didn't touch on any of this. Instead it left the impression that only a small handful of somewhat quirky devotees are keeping vinyl alive along with other old-school technological pursuits. He needs to visit the mothership Half Price Books store on Northwest Highway and check out all the record albums for sale -- and all the wall art on display. There's another, fuller story there.
Until then, there's also some irony in the fact that Schechter tweeted a link to his well-intended "Forgotten Technologies" story. That's pretty much mandatory -- even when you're romancing the past.
Your friendly content provider also watched CBS11's Friday 10 p.m. newscast in its entirety. On this night at least, there's nothing further to report.