This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Mon., Nov. 16)
11/17/09 02:04 PM
By ED BARK
Was this really necessary?
"Terrorism. Violence. It's all been hitting close to home. Could the Super Bowl be the next target?"
Anchor Gloria Campos and WFAA8 led with that cheap ratings "sweeps" tease Monday night, targeting the 2011 extravaganza at Cowboys Stadium for possible mass destruction.
Reporter Chris Hawes' subsequent story -- "Securing the Super Bowl" -- took a bracingly more sedate approach to the precautionary measures being drawn up by law enforcement officials. So did Arlington police chief Theron Bowman, who said calmly, "I can assure you . . . we are working diligently to ensure that this is the absolute safest place it could be. And we don't worry about those scenarios here."
Fox4 and NBC5 also had Super Bowl stories -- but of a far more benign nature. Their accounts were tied to a gathering of area mayors and Big Game organizers, all of them intent on showcasing North Texas and Jerry's Palace to the best extent possible. Amping up the fear factor -- as WFAA8 did -- made the station seem unduly trigger happy and alarmist -- if not childish.
On a much higher plane, WFAA8's David Schechter had a followup on what so far has been the most impactful story of the sweeps. He told viewers earlier this month of a loophole that allowed jailed illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes to be transported back to Mexico scot-free by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In reaction to Schechter's story, bail amounts have been hiked substantially to $100,000, making it far more difficult to get sprung.
All four major TV news providers reported on the controversial new guidelines for mammograms by the government-funded United States Preventive Services Task Force. In short, women now are being told that regular screenings for breast cancer should start at age 50 instead of 40. And that mammograms should be undergone every two years rather than annually.
Fox4 led its 10 p.m. newscast with the findings while rival stations eagerly touted the near-freezing weather at hand Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The station's Sophia Reza had a more balanced report than CBS11's Melissa Newton, who interviewed only naysayers, including a "flabbergasted" and "shocked" doctor.
NBC5 and WFAA8 opted for brief anchor readers on the new breast exam guidelines. This was particularly puzzling in WFAA8's case. It has the market's only full-time medical reporter in Janet St. James. But she instead stuck with an OK story on "discount health care" possibilities, which could and should have been saved for another night. When major medical news breaks, your ace reporter in that field should be turned loose on it.
Worth watching -- CBS11 investigator Bennett Cunningham turned from "Dirty Diners" to overturned rigs in his interesting analysis of big truck accidents and still lax safety precautions in areas where they're more likely to occur. And the station's Ginger Allen had the first installment in CBS11's week-long "Social Experiment." Its inaugural guinea pig was a teen addicted to text-messaging who had to give it up for a week. "I've been better at talking now," she acknowledged before returning to her texting ways. Next up: Internet deprivation. The horror.
NBC5's Grant Stinchfield ventured to Colbert, Okla. to report on illegal immigrants "flooding into Texas" because of its less strict laws. Colleague Randy McIlwain had another talker -- on a University of North Texas student vote that will determine whether same sex couples can be part of the homecoming court.
Fox4's trusty Fil Alvarado relayed some good information on a wealth of seasonal jobs opening up around the country. He interviewed two young women who were lucky enough to land some of them.
Blooper reel -- NBC5 anchor Brian Curtis narrated one of his station's standard issue "Crime Alerts." But the video never appeared as he told viewers, "These surveillance photos show the suspect pointing his gun and demanding money."
It's just Pete doing his dumb weather, so let's screw around -- WFAA8 temperature taker Pete Delkus was deep into his near-freezing forecast when he laughed and then lectured anchor mates Campos, John McCaa and Dale Hansen, who were carrying on off-camera.
"You have no idea the concentration level you have to have to go on the air and be a professional like I am when these three are over here playing the games that they're playing behind me," Delkus told viewers. "If we could 'punch them up,' I think everyone at home would be surprised . . . if not offended."
Delkus slogged through the rest of his forecast before adding, "I'd bring the belt out on them tonight, but I don't think there's a big enough one for you (meaning plus-sized Hansen)."
"They were wrestling with their chairs," Campos clarified.
Everyone then had a good laugh, Big Pete included. But they probably shouldn't pull this during a tornado.