This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Mon., Feb. 26)
02/27/07 03:11 PM
By ED BARK
At last we're near the end. Eighteen of the 20 February sweeps weeknights are in the books and my eyes/ears and typing fingers are wearier than a Branson, Missouri balloon artist.
Watching 72 late night D-FW newscasts since the first of this month is not conducive to sound mental health, even if I've learned at least 18 ways to lose weight from NBC5. So yes, it's getting tougher and tougher to come up with new angles if not new diets.
It'd be far easier if the four newscasts had to compete feverishly on a legitimately big, breaking news story. But the proposed TXU buyout was as good as it got Monday night. Not a lot of electricity there.
Anyhoo, we're going to turn our attention to two highly telegenic reporters of entirely different disciplines. NBC5's Brian Curtis, who also co-anchors the station's 4 p.m. newscasts, is on almost every night. He specializes in consumer reporting, although much of what he does is little more than an infomercial for merchants and companies happy to accept a free handout.
CBS11 investigative reporter Ginger Allen, who likewise does some anchoring, usually makes just a handful of appearances each sweeps. She showed up Monday night with an overblown trackdown of a man who allegedly had been stealing from realtors and homeowners whose residences were for sale.
Allen has done much better work than this, but that's not what caught the eye. Television is a visual medium, after all, and it looked as though the cute-as-a-button reporter had spent the first three weeks of the sweeps in a tanning salon or dipped in caramel sauce. She was more bronzed than a Lincoln penny, making co-anchors Tracy Rowlett and Karen Borta look like blackboard chalk. Frankly, it was a bit disconcerting on a night when she jumped out more than her story did.
The Peacock's Curtis, who easily could be a runway model, had a penetrating report on coffee laced with energy supplements. It's being sold by 7-Eleven, which was more than happy to let him talk it up.
"It tastes just like coffee," said one happy imbiber.
Curtis also treated viewers to "something you're seeing for the first time. It's actually an energy Slurpee."
He contentedly sipped from it after taking a handoff from a counter person used as a prop.
No D-FW station is more transparent about product placement than NBC5. The Peacock also trades heavily on scare tactic teases designed to suck poor saps in during NBC's prime-time programming. On Monday, anchor Jane McGarry warned, "Mixup at the drive-thru. Why you should always check your order."
Visions of salmonella poisoning or cockroach remnants might have prompted some viewers to stay the course. But of course it was another sham. The "story," a reader that lasted maybe 20 seconds, turned out to be an uptick in complaints from McDonald's drive-thru customers. They complained about receiving wrong items and slow service, or being charged too much. The horror.
Earlier in the newscast, NBC5 reporter Scott Friedman told of an elderly woman whose purse almost was stolen after a would-be thief slashed her tire as a ploy and then offered to help. Bless her, she may have had the quote of the sweeps, telling Friedman, "The front tire of my Escalade was flatter than a fritter."
The same pretty much could be said of Monday's 10 p.m. newscasts.
Epilogue: The Dallas Morning News is showcasing some of its standout reporters in a new ad campaign. TV-ready Kent Fischer, who covers education, stars as a compassionate, impassioned justice-seeker in a 30-second spot that ran Monday after Babe Laufenberg's sports segment on CBS11's 10 p.m. news.
At ad's end, an actress playing a DISD student's mother smiled at Fischer in gratitude for his uncovering of DISD credit card abuses. He smiled back in extreme close-up -- eat your heart out, Brian Curtis -- before the DMN's "Live Better Here" slogan popped into view.
Oddly enough, the commercial appeared only during CBS11's newscast Monday night. No. 1-rated Belo8, which like the DMN is owned by Belo Corp., has some synergistic catching up to do.
Here's Monday night's violent crime story count, with the 18-night totals in parentheses:
NBC5 -- 3 (65)
Fox4 -- 2 (37)
Belo8 -- 1 (23)
CBS11 -- 0 (29)