powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Fri., Feb. 9)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement official Gary Mead led a media tour Friday of a facility in Taylor, TX. But Belo8 billed it an "exclusive" on that night's 10 p.m. news. Pool photo by I. M. Otero

News operations need to be careful when making claims of exclusivity.

Belo8 lately hasn't been.

Friday's 10 p.m. newscast found anchor Gloria Campos telling viewers, "News 8 was granted an exclusive tour of the detention center in Taylor, Texas."

That would be true if Fox4, NBC5, CBS11 and other state and national media outlets also hadn't given viewers and readers a look inside the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility.

Officials wanted to diffuse charges that the detainee center is unsafe and dehumanizing. Belo8 investigator Brett Shipp has led the way in reporting on a legal suit filed by a recently released Palestinian family, the Ibrahims. But the station had been denied access inside the Hutto building, as Shipp reported on Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast. Then on Friday the doors were opened, belying Belo8's bogus claims of exclusivity. Its rivals also showed video from inside the facility during their 10 p.m. newscasts Friday.

Fox4 anchor Baron James called it a "first look at the treatment of detained families," which is stretching the truth a bit. NBC5 and CBS11 abstained from gilding the lily.

On Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast, Belo8 had touted an "exclusive murder investigation" into the deaths of young couple Linoshka Torres and Luis Campos. Belo8's Rebecca Lopez said that police now think they were tortured and killed by a vengeful drug ring boss (Nicolas Monarrez) who thought Torres and Campos had broken into his house and robbed him.

Lopez's piece was praised in this space, but probably shouldn't have been. It turns out that the basics of her investigation already had been reported early last week by The Dallas Morning News, which like Belo8 is owned by Belo Corp.

Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar also was ahead of Lopez on the mistaken identity revelations. Her stories aired earlier in the week on Fox4's 6 and 9 p.m. newscasts, but weren't shown on the 10 p.m. telecasts that have been monitored here since the latest four-month "sweeps" period began on Feb. 1.

So what's been learned? Belo8 seems to have adapted a Bill Clinton-esque definition of "exclusive" in its determination to end NBC5's longtime ratings dominance at 10 p.m. The Peacock hasn't changed, though. It continues to pour on the junk news, and plenty of it. It's hard to know where to start anymore, so let's go where much of the real news is -- on CBS11.

The station's lead story, by reporter Jack Fink, fully merited such prominent play. He reported on a string of non-functional overhead freeway lights that repeatedly have been disabled by thieves stealing their copper wiring. Some 50 light poles keep going dark despite the Texas Department of Transportation's repeated repair efforts.

A TxDOT spokeswoman told Fink that wiring has been replaced 15 times in the past six months at a cost of $250,000. For now, she said, repairs are on hold while a "permanent solution" is sought. Meanwhile, motorists must drive dangerously in the dark.

CBS11 reporters J.D. Miles and Carol Cavazos also had worthwhile, nutritive pieces on the Dallas Police Department's budget shortfall and the Texas Food Bank's back taxes woes. These aren't particularly easy or "sexy" stories to tell. But they do stick to the ribs, unlike NBC5 reporter Meredith Land's piffle on "Tummy Triggers" or anchor Mike Snyder's drivel on a study that says it's best to not start dieting on a Monday.

Over on Belo8, Janet St. James continued to show why she's the best medical reporter in D-FW. She had an affecting story on a family whose young son, Kyle, was killed when their auto was broadsided. They later learned that his car seat was defective. The surviving parents now are raising money to buy safer, more expensive car seats for needy families that otherwise couldn't afford them.

Belo8 also is the only station to find time virtually every night for a solid, staff-reported story on area high school or college teams. Sports reporters Erin Hawksworth, George Riba and, on Friday night, Ted Madden, are usually the ones doing the legwork. It's a stark contrast to NBC5, where sports anchor Newy Scruggs' staff has been downsized to near-zero.

Here's Friday's violent crime story count, with the seven-night running totals in parentheses:

NBC5 -- 5 (36)
CBS11 -- 2 (17)
Fox4 -- 2 (16)
Belo8 -- 1 (14)