Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dear Network News

I am writing to congratulate you on your fine infotainment.

Things I don’t know about can’t affect me and no one understands this better than you. While newspapers still cover events in-depth, creating the fear that goes with knowledge, your broadcasts give little enough detail (and sometimes none at all) that I can live carefree and rest easy.

As I write this you are ten minutes into an hour-long evening broadcast and already you are telling me what the weather was today. This is a huge benefit. It is a great comfort for me to know that the atmospheric conditions I experienced were real and not imagined. The astonishing graphics entirely justify putting the weather ahead of the other news stories—I have even purchased a small pocketbook in which I record your temperature updates.

Your choice of anchors and presenters is equally inspired. What better way to make me watch the news than to have an impossibly beautiful person presenting it? Especially that one Asian girl…so utterly gorgeous, even in HD, that I sometimes miss what she is saying because I am so bedazzled by her unearthly good looks. I know, however, that it’s not enough to have stunning anchors, and I applaud your not letting them dwell on the more somber stories. It is important to highlight pieces that give presenters the maximum opportunity to smile. What's more, I’m amazed at how not quite funny they are. Throwing their almost witty quips around at the end of each show leaves me assured there was nothing in the broadcast I need be concerned about, while the lack of actual “funny” is inoffensive to the serious nature of what news is. Nicely balanced.

Your editing is second to none. I am speechless every time an interviewee, by the intonation of their voice, is clearly only half way through a sentence when you cut them off (to justifiably get back to the inevitably cuter anchors). Crackerjack timing every cut!

It is difficult to suggest improvements but I must. I don’t feel you give enough repeat play to dramatic video footage. Nothing brings home the point more than showing dramatic video footage over and over again; it really ingrains it into my awareness. But while you often show a clip in news promos, at the start of the show and before each commercial break—as well as when you finally get to the story—I seldom see it as a refresher while the credits roll.

You provide a great service in helping me think that I am informed. Well done network news!! Vanilla is my favorite flavor and with your broadcasts I get two scoops!!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Fed, White and Blue

It is the fourth of July, you are in America, and you are English. What do you do?

As an Englishman living stateside for almost a decade, July 4th has come round with both the regularity of a well thought out calendar and an annual requirement for me to answer that question. A lot. Possibly even more than the one about how to pronounce tomato.

Most of my answers to The July Fourth Question are along the lines of:

“I’ll be defending any ship importing tea.” Ho ho.
“I’m hiring myself out to be shot at by anyone with the last name of Jefferson or Adams.” Ha ha.
“What you call Independence Day I call 'Talk Like an Australian Day.'” Chortle.

The truth is that being raised in England I didn’t think twice about July 4th. Or once for that matter. It’s not that the Brits don’t care or bear a grudge (we don’t), it’s just that while it’s a major part of US history, it’s not as prominent in that of the UK. Lots of colonies managed to escape being governed from England, and school curriculums there tend to be about the big picture: Tudor Kings and Queens, the Industrial Revolution, or the role of the Spice Girls in the beginnings of corporate created pop stars.

Since living in the US though, I’m all for it. Few and far between are the American’s that don’t make me welcome around Independence celebrations. (Though I’m not brave enough to wear my Union Jack T-shirt and run down the street demanding taxation without representation and the abolition of trial by jury).

Is it a Federal offence not to invite Brits to some kind of celebration? I always have several options to choose from; most involving obscene amounts of meat in buns, parades, and fireworks as far as the ear can hear. For that reason alone I embrace wholeheartedly American Independence and defend its inalienable right to ribs, burgers, and the pursuit of steak sauce.

So whatever quip I may answer with this Independence Day the truth is I shall be doing the same as always—gluttoning myself on the abundance of food and fun forced on me by liberated Americans.

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