Jeff Gianola, is this really what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Last night, for the first time in a long time, I watched the KOIN-6 news at 11 p.m.

And I gotta tell ya, I'm amazed that anybody bothers to watch. Out of a 30 minute show, there was maybe 90 seconds of local news that wasn't about crime, fear, misery, and death. And the first one didn't happen until fourteen minutes in.

Here's the rundown. It bleeds and leads. Oh, does it ever bleed.

OK... time for some promos and a commercial break. We're ten minutes in - and we haven't yet had a local news story that isn't about crime, fear, misery, and death. Let's keep going.

Let's promo the weather, and see more ads. And we're back.

Time for more ads. Before we do that, Jeff will promo some guy slamming his body into a snowbank. He doesn't want us to get through a segment without at least one injury.

Time for sports. It's Ed's turn.

The "local news" is over. Jeff wants to know about that fog tomorrow - watch out everybody! - and David Letterman is up next.

Seriously, Jeff. When you told your mama that you wanted to grow up to be a journalist, did you really expect to spend your evenings reading the police blotter, promoting celebrities, and joking with the weather and sports guys?

Seriously? I don't expect you to be Jim Lehrer. But this is ridiculous.

Other than crime, fear, misery, and death, today's count is one local sports story, one local entertainment story, and some still photos of a fish. Did absolutely NOTHING of substance happen today?

  • Garrett (unverified)


  • Chris (unverified)

    Not to sound like a guy in line at the movies, but Marshal McLuhan's "Understanding Media" instantly comes to mind:

    "Ads are news. What is wrong with them is that they are always good news. In order to balance off the effect and to sell good news, it is necessary to have a lot of bad news."

    Ad-driven, commercial television ... there's your culprit, at least in part. Time for us to stop buying into it with our attention, that's for sure.

  • Marialba (unverified)

    That damn Gordon Smith has to be to blame for this too! He must be stopped before he destroys everything we hold to be pure and true in this world.

  • Bert S. (unverified)

    Well, given that the news people mainly read contents of press releases, do the weather and sports, I think it's just a matter of time before they are effectively displaced by smaller news outfits broadcasting to through the web.

    No, there's no need to go out and buy a helicopter. Just stick to content.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    "'NETWORK'... the humanoids, the love story, the trials and tribulations, the savior of television, the attempted suicides, the assassination -- it's ALL coming, along with a galaxy of stars you know and love!"

    Where is Howard Beale when you need him?

  • I like boring news! (unverified)

    I know that my ideal news report would look something like this:

    • Elderly couple in Beaverton plants flowers; they look great
    • Some lady in Portland was concerned about some political event and wrote a letter to her elected official outlining her concerns.
    • A Boy Scout troop in Gresham recently completed an uneventful, yet fun and rewarding camping trip.
    • A motel in West Linn broke it's record for "most consecutive days without a workplace accident" at 152.

    That's what I would tune in for!

  • Observer (unverified)

    I suppose one could list the faults with blogs such as this if one didn't mind risking carpal tunnel pain. It's pretty easy to sit back and take cheap shots at media.

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    Thanks Kari. I wish we could just totally embarass the local news media for feeding us this crap. What I do not understand is why with about 5 local news stations and multiple sections each there is not one that doesn't provide the same worthless news content? You would think that there would be a market for the audience that likes to watch the Newshour amounting to at least 20% marketshare for local news of substance.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)

    Good Question John. I haven't watched the local news for years 'cause there's never any news there worth watching.

  • Max (unverified)

    Kari, excellent account.

    I've always thought that people in the media business must be terribly, terribly insecure. Not merely in the tv markets; it's even worse on the radio. Every ten minutes, it's "I'm steve leader" "and I'm rebecca marshal". And just who the heck cares? If the traffic guy and the weather guy and the sports guy and the on-scene reporter guy and the so-called "anchors" weren't so fixated on telling us their names, they might actually have time to get an honest-ta-god local news story stuck in there, somewhere.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Try KKEI, Northwest Telemundo (channel 38). Even if you don't speak Spanish, you can get a great sense of what's going on in the world from their better selection of imagery. TV is about images, not words, after all.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Great post! The part that scares me is that many of the people who make decisions for our city, state and nation (i.e, the voters) are watching this crap along with American Idol, Apprentice, Trading Wives, Survivor, etc. etc. etc.

    How is it possible to have a well informed debate among the electorate when a huge percentage of eligible voters are being dumbed down by endless mindless drivel on local and national television? Granted it is everyone's constitutional right to watch as many hours of Dukes of Hazard reruns as they choose (God Bless Daisy Duke!), but how can I be expected to sleep at night knowing that the future of my children and grandchildren will be determined by the same people that made "Dancing With the Stars 2" the most watched ABC non-sports show in 5 years?

    I celebrate the end of all racist and sexist barriers to voting, but I am beginning to wonder if we would be better off limiting the right to vote to those with an IQ over 75, which presumably will automatically exclude the regular viewers of most of the TV shows mentioned above.

  • Lynn Siprelle (unverified)

    Kari, critiquing KOIN like this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Their new owners have stripped the place bare; the news crew has almost no resources. The cheapest kind of news to cover is crime. It requires no thought and no skills; you can throw the most raw beginning crew at a crime story and come up with something (barely) broadcast-able. KOIN right now is simply filling its news hole with whatever it can dig up, which with their resources ain't much. I have no sympathy with their out-of-state owners, whose management folks brag (anonymously) at OMI all the time about how much money they're making. My sympathy is with the folks who are stuck in the newsroom trying to do their jobs with little to no support. KOIN was once the news leader, a station with a proud history. Now it's just a cash cow for some investment bankers. You could rename it KOW, but you can't get 3-letter calls any more.

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    I stopped watching local news about 8 years ago, when a Portland station showed footage of this:

    a CAT.

    nursing some orphaned PUPPIES.


    Local? Nope. News? Nope. Moving on...

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    Yeah, Lynn, I get that. Maybe I shouldn't pick on Jeff Gianola. He's a nice guy, and certainly a smart one. Maybe a post like this one can help add a few more grains of sand to the balance scale where they're deciding between cheap non-news and a small investment in actual news.

    Of course, I refuse - absolutely REFUSE - to believe that it's cheaper to do these crime stories than hard news. After all, doing crime stories means you have to have night crews racing around town chasing the police scanner and filming burning buildings, crashed cars, and crime victims.

    You could sit in the building, never leave, and rip headlines off the AP wire. (This wouldn't rock, but it would suck a little less.) It just takes a little creativity to find ways to talk about it in ways that are compelling to the audience.

    Unlike sarcastic Mr. Boring News above, I don't want all boring good news stories - but something meaningful. Anything meaningful.

    The Oregonian ain't the New York Times, but a quick look at today's paper tells you that all kinds of meaningful, interesting news happened yesterday.

    • Multnomah County dropped its controversial plan to ban trans fat.

    • PCC announced a new campus in Sherwood.

    • The study from some economists that says the corporate kicker doesn't create jobs or economic growth.

    • Gordon Smith and the minimum wage.

    • The $4 ticket for the aerial tram.

    Besides, what are they doing with 27 stories in a 30 minute broadcast (plus commercials)???? Why not focus your resources, and do 4-5 meaningful stories with actual content, meaningful interviews, context, etc. You could even include a fast police-blotter rundown if you can't give that up.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)

    Thank you Kari. I need to be reminded on occasion that I'm not the only one who finds local TV news increasingly inane & irrelevant.

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    Yeah, it's weird. Here's how it happened. Flipping around, I landed on the news just as it started. I was curious what the top story of the day was. First story - that weird one about the bogus voicemail that caused nothing bad to happen. I thought to myself, "OK, top story that's not crime..."

    One after another, crime story, crime story, crime story... suddenly, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I became fascinated - how many crime stories in a row could they possibly do? Would Jeff finally lose his composure and laugh out loud, or maybe make some wry joke about it all -- after all, he must know how ridiculous it all is.

    But no... they just kept going. As if the show were "Portland Police Blotter Tonight" and not the local news. No sense of irony or anything.

  • Jim (unverified)

    To me, local news broadcasts can be summed up by the following actual example:

    Back during the anthrax scare, a "suspicious" box was found somewhere. An "on-site" reporter said something to the effect of "A cardboard box, like this one here..." and they hold up an ordinary cardboard box. It wasn't even the ACTUAL box. Do we really need to see a cardboard box to know what they're talking about? And can't they tell that story in the newsroom?

  • ws (unverified)

    I suppose the KOIN 6 staff may have been recovering from the arduous snow coverage last week. That's what local news show are really good for. The boring day to day news coverage is made up for by the heroic efforts they make to get the word out about school closures and to give us exciting footage of fools crashing into parked cars while attempting to drive down steep hills near the MAC on the snowiest day of the year. Anyway, I get such bad reception for KOIN 6 that it's always snowing when I'm tuned to that channel, so I mostly don't. Local news is basically far better from the newspaper.

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    For an even more masochistic experience, tune into KPTV's ten o'clock show. They root around for shocking footage of events happening across the country. Look, a woman was beaten in Baton Rouge!--next, on SHOCK News 12!

    This is why that lawsuit we mentioned recently is important--what we're being offered now is not news by even the loosest standard.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    I would how much control individual newscasters really have on what they are presenting. I am doubting that they have much at all.

    Oddly enough, the number of "violence" related news stories in Portland are NOTHING compared to the LA basin where you can easily sit down to watch 3 or 4 hours of car chases, gun shootings, murders, rapes and robberies every day.

    I think that it is a measure of the sad state of affairs on the US media when countries such as Canada focus far more on international news compared to the US media which is largely insular in their focus. This may be in part because there is less violence in Canada, but I think more so, it is a statement of their values and where they see themselves in the world.

  • (Show?)

    Lynn said: "critiquing KOIN like this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Their new owners have stripped the place bare; the news crew has almost no resources. The cheapest kind of news to cover is crime. It requires no thought and no skills; you can throw the most raw beginning crew at a crime story and come up with something (barely) broadcast-able."

    The worst part of it is that now they don't even have money to give the reporters props to hold up, like at KPTV! "The multi-car accident just a few feet from the Terwilliger Curves started when an oversized Michelin radial truck tire--mmmmph, grunt--like this one I'm struggling to raise into the camera shot without dropping my microphone--burst without warning."

  • Brian (unverified)

    Right on, Kari. I watch the 11 o'clock news on KATU (Channel 2). Same difference. Car crash, fire, crime, animal story. Repeat until 11:35, throwing in some sports and weather.

    KATU also has the "consumer reporter" narrating a Consumer Reports video almost every night. Whoopee, more non-local news.

    To KATU's credit, they've given quite a bit of air time to our fight against a Measure 37 subdivision. See:

    I've talked with the KATU reporter and cameraman about why there's so little coverage of substantive social and political issues. They sympathized with my complaint and said I should write the news department. Good idea.

  • (Show?)

    It's pretty easy to sit back and take cheap shots at media.

    Well, that'd be because local television news is dreadful. And being the public's airwaves, we kind of have not only the right but the responsibility to call them on it.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Kari just listed 20 reasons why I left producing TV news in this town: this is no real news here.

    A producer friend of mine went down to WPLG in Miami and she said she would sometimes "drop" an 11pm story (B or C section) that would lead the late news here in Portland.

    Their filler is our lead.

    So, let's be happy, because as they say, no news is good news, and that is why some of us live here in Puddletown.

  • (Show?)

    Amen, Kari!

    We do watch the local news at our house, mostly because my husband really wants to see the weather. We end up TiVo-ing through much of it, and often quit watching before the end. And we play the "fear" game: Guess what this story is supposed to make you afraid of?

    What is really unfortunate is that all the emphasis on reporting crime leads people to feel less safe. They're not, but they think so. And we all know what awful things happen when people are afraid. They invade other countries, willingly give up their rights, and withdraw from their communities. It isn't good.

    The local news could play an important part in the conversations we have as residents of our community. Too bad it doesn't. Instead it drives us apart.

    On a national front, I have liked ABC lately.

  • Lynn Siprelle (unverified)

    Kari says: "Of course, I refuse - absolutely REFUSE - to believe that it's cheaper to do these crime stories than hard news. After all, doing crime stories means you have to have night crews racing around town chasing the police scanner and filming burning buildings, crashed cars, and crime victims. ...

    Why not focus your resources, and do 4-5 meaningful stories with actual content, meaningful interviews, context, etc. You could even include a fast police-blotter rundown if you can't give that up."

    You can choose to believe whatever you'd like, but it's the truth. It's cheaper because you don't need talent or experience to report crime. You don't need perspective or insight. All you need are warm bodies--one to hold the camera and one to stand in front of it. It is the easiest kind of story to tell. It takes no thought and no knowledge of the city you're in. You could drop me in into the heart of St. Louis with nothing but a police scanner, the wire services and a couple of photog/reporter teams right out of college (and paid accordingly), and in two weeks we could easily put together a nightly newscast focusing on crime. We wouldn't know anything about St. Louis and we wouldn't have to; more unfortunately the viewers wouldn't know much about St. Louis either when all was said and done.

    The locals are absolutely wedded to it; KPTVers constantly talk at OMI about how the focus groups say viewers WANT crime crime crime, and you know what? It's really working for them. KPTV is doing box office. My own personal feeling is that it's less because KPTV is doing crime crime crime and more because they have a fresher style and outlook than the other 2--3 counting KOIN, but they really don't count at present and that's the sad truth. (I also credit Mark Nelsen, World's Wonkiest Weatherman, who I lurve. I'm there at 10:32 every weeknight.) What KPTV lacks in substance it makes up in style, and this is a style-oriented culture. I've talked to a few folks over there who would like to do more substantive news, but it's a hard internal sell when what they're doing now is working so well for them.

  • Bill Holmer (unverified)

    My question is, if a picture is worth a thousand words, why can I get a weather forecast on the radio in less than 30 seconds, but it takes more than 3 minutes (plus sometimes a 2 minute break for a word from our sponsors), to get a weather forecast on TV?

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    As Lynn points out, it's all shock and style and "the people" can't make a preference choice if it's not even under consideration.

    I think that a skilled news team could do stories on M-37, system development charges, VOE, annual sessions, health care, etcetera, and make them compelling enough to compete with the "car wreck on Barbur Blvd".

    But it would take a skilled news team that was actually committed to you know, reporting news.

  • Chris (unverified)

    Great observations, Lynn.

    Along the same lines, I highly recommend that people watch the next season of "The Wire" (and really the whole series, for that matter) on HBO if they have any interest in learning about how local media outlets cover the news, especially as budgets for substantive investigations keep getting smaller and smaller.

  • (Show?)

    Kari and Pat Ryan,

    Calling out the "news team" or a specific anchor doesn't go high enough up the chain.

    If Gianola or anybody else chose to take the high ground and quit their job rather than report a bunch of garbage, it would be a quixotic move - dozens would line up to take their place.

    I'm not saying there's anything wrong with pointing out what a self-serving and unproductive career choice Jeff Gianola has made, but to suggest that it's within his power to make a genuine change to the system is inaccurate.

    What's truly needed is only within the power of station and network management (and government regulation thereof) to change.

  • skyliner (unverified)

    For an even more masochistic experience, tune into KPTV's ten o'clock show.

    Jeff's right: the 10 p.m. KPTV news makes KOIN look like some sort of chautauqua. A steady dose of that (meaning 10 minutes or more) and you'll think Armageddon has arrived and there are Morlocks running wild in the streets for all the seedy crime stories they string back to back to back to back.

  • bikerider (unverified)

    Jenny, it really does create fear. I live in Southeast Portland and regularly ride my bicycle all over town. What astonishes me is how many of my professional and managerial collegues are amazed that I haven't been robbed, shot, or otherwise attacked. Recently, my boss rode his bike down the Springwater Corridor near my house and said he never would again because of all of the "scary people". I told him they are not scary - they are just lower income, blue collar, and - yes - occassionally homeless. I'm a lot more afraid of idiots in SUVs on roads without bike lanes in the suburbs than I ever am riding in southeast. I attribute these attitudes to not only a steady diet of local crime stories, but also a national administration that rules primarily by fear.

  • Nina (unverified)

    find me one news station that really does HARD journalism and i will jump up and down naked in my street. corporate controlled television stations want to keep us numb and quiet. we're easier to control that way.

  • ws (unverified)

    KPTV does have those breathlessly read crime and scandal bits, but that show is now 90 minutes, compared to the other stations 30 minutes. That gives them time to do a better job on the more substantial news items than the other stations. I have it on in the background sometimes when I'm on the computer, so I'm not listening word for word, but it seems better than 2, 6 and 8.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    What percentage of the population in the Portland market regularly watch TV news? I have no idea. How significant is it? What is the share of the station with the lowest rating?

    I'm wondering if money could talk to do something about this paucity of local TV news. There are a number of fairly substantial, civic minded local businesses (New Seasons, McMennamins, Kithcen Kaboodle and many more). If these companies all told one of the stations that they would advertise on their news programs if--and only if--the station actually carried significantly more real news, could they influence the station to give it a try? As several people have posted before, one would think that at least 20% of the market would tune into an intelligent local news hour.

  • Lynn Siprelle (unverified)

    If a civic-minded rich guy wanted to buy KOIN you could probably get Montecito to sell it for around $150M. A broadcast license is essentially a license to print money so I'd think risk would be pretty minimal. A regular anonymous poster at OMI widely assumed to be a high-ranking KOIN sales guy keeps daring someone to do it (the $150M is his figure); I'd love it if someone could pony up, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Bob Smith (unverified)

    Gil: According to Nielsen overnights, 43% of Portland households had TV's on at 11:00 pm this Thursday night. That seems about normal to me.

    The highest viewership of the night was at 8:30 pm, when 71% of Portland households had at least one TV on.

    For the 11 o'clock newscasts on Thursday, 15% of the audience watched KGW, 11% watched KATU, 11% watched KOIN, and 9% watched KPTV. About 2% watched Seinfeld on the CW, 2% watched Nova on OPB. Almost no one watched KPDX or KPXG.

    Also at 11, about 65% of households were watching cable/satellite/timeshifted/on-demand programming, which isn't broken down in our overnight numbers, so I can't tell you how many of those are watching the Daily Show.

    Sorry I can't use my real name here, but Nielsen frowns on giving out overnight numbers. Yes, those numbers add up to more than 100%. Ask someone on OMI to explain how that works if you're curious.

  • ws (unverified)

    Well, I'm just speaking off the top of my head, but it really seems like the local stations have a lot of money. You hear about it when news talent salaries are hinted at in newspapers stories and local gossip columns. You can see it downtown when their trucks show up with the telescoping antennae and camera guys with pro gear. They spend lots of money on the copter for the commute report.

    What's wrong with local station news is the concept and the priorities. First of all, except for 12, local stations don't do a newshour, they do a news-halfhour that isn't a 30 minute half hour but a 22 minute halfhour split three ways with entirely brainkilling revenue/commercial breaks. The news talent breaks up these 3(well, actually 5 I think)segments when they're actually reading the news, by spending precious seconds being cute, primping, making generally stupid, chummy little asides and jokes, presumably to charm up the critical ratings.

    Can these people stand to watch themselves on tv? Seriously, I doubt it. As I said, occasionally I have 12 on, but rarely one of the other locals. Unless I'm dead tired or sick, it's just torture to have a local news hour on if I have to sit in front of it.

    I watch the NewsHour. Can't the locals, by watching that show, see where they're missing it? It doesn't seem that tough. (1)get the news. (2)write a reasonably articulate, understandable, factually accurate story (3)step in front of the camera and read the news with a simple congenial smile minus the bimbo doofus schtick.

    Even if the news talent were serious about reporting news, (and actually, some of them probably are)with local stations current concept and priorities, there's no way they are ever going to be able to do substantial news reporting. I'm curious where the biggest part, or the most influential part of local stations money is coming from. That's who is probably calling the shots. It's probably the networks.

    Maybe what locals should do, is devote one entire half hour to news at some point during the programming schedule, and do sports and weather separate in another. With a longer time period devoted to news, maybe they'd feel like they could develop a serious news viewership that wouldn't require the the bleed-lead approach to sustain attention spans. I hope they figure something out. I won't be tuning in much until they do.

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    Don't sports fans get their fix from ESPN these days? Isn't the five-minute local sports thing a relic?

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    Kari, don't be ridiculous. You can't bear to watch TV, but you assume the rest of us are willing to PAY for TV??

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    Stopped watching Local Sports when the George Michael (or whatever it was called) Sports Machine took off (where was this guy from anyway? I loved it) and then went to ESPN, when I can afford cable. We get ESPN here in Manila Philippines but it is like all "football". Last time I caught a few whiffs of local news was when it was on just before AARRRRSEENNIOOO HALLLLLLLL.

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    My take is that the TV reporters don't report, they are assigned stories, thus having no say so in the reporting and as such, are simply talking heads spouting talking points. They have minimal input on what they cover. Those decisions are made much higher up the management chain and are primarily made on the "bleed, it leads" concept, to attract the majority of viewers, who unfortunately, have the visual attention span of cats (apprx. 4-7 seconds). This means they (station management) have to capture and keep our attention through sensationalism, not content (unlike our esteemed blog here).

    So, don't blame the messenger(the reporters). Blame the viewing public. To paraphrase my friend Pogo, "We are watching the enemy and it is we."

    Station management is only giving the public what they want. They don't want public discourse, they want the low nutritionial pablum served to us in bite sized spoonfuls before bedtime.

    Oh yes, don't forget a healthy serving of Sleep Country USA ads before bedtime makes the Corporate KOW's bottom line happy and keeps that inane jingle in your head for hours.

  • Jon (unverified)

    I dont watch local news either, havent for a while. But maybe they report all this "negative" news & violence because its all too common any more, and this country is going to "hell in a handbasket." I mean c'mon. We cant judge people's actions any more, morals are out the window, and everyone has to "live and let live". So what we have today is pretty dismal.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    I'd like to note "skyliner's" chautauqua reference, it's spot on, and it makes me wish we had more of that sort of intelligent, referential writing in mainstream media, the kind I aspired to when I was doing TV news.

    Now, myself excepted, the deeper stuff seems to be on the net. Along with the Super Bowl spread. Which reminds me.

    7 points? 7 points?

    Take the Bears and start counting your money.

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    Pete -- I didn't mean that you should pay for ESPN. What I meant was that most hardcore sports fans already do. So, they're getting 3-5 channels of 24/7 sports. With that much coverage, does the local news really need to do 2-3 minutes of coverage?

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    Kari- I meant that as a joke. But, I guess I do feel that it's important to have basic sports coverage on broadcast TV. Not for hardcore sports fans, for people who just like to keep an eye on their hometown team, and chat round the water cooler at work the next day. I don't think the sports segment should be lumped in with all the other cruft you so clearly outlined.

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    Oh, and also: just because I meant it as a joke, doesn't mean I think it was funny looking at it now. FWIW. ;)

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    TV is about images, not words, after all.

    I'm a Luddite as far as TV goes; aside from the commercial trash, I find the visuals mainly distracting. I never watch TV news unless it's something like CNN a handful of times a year for really critical breaking news (or election coverage). The Newshour on PBS is boring and formulaic. I once heard a brilliant piece of satire by Alexander Cockburn about The Newshour, in which he described a "debate" about cannibalism between an establishment conservative and an establishment liberal: the conservative wanted cannibalism governed by the free market, whereas the liberal wanted it regulated :-)

    I listen to the news on the radio (KOPB and KBOO). If you can deal with the sometimes amateurish news presenters on KBOO, you can hear stories you'll never hear covered elsewhere, and I don't mean wacky conspiracy mongering either. Give it a try if you can receive KBOO.

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    I don't think the sports segment should be lumped in with all the other cruft you so clearly outlined.

    Not to worry, Pete. I counted the UW-beats-UO story as one of the glorious three local non-fear stories. I don't personally understand why they were showing snowmobiles crashing in Denver. It ain't local (and it ain't really sports.) And I definitely don't get the "Tiger Woods is having a boy - and here's drunk John Daly joking about it" story.

  • Kevin (unverified)

    Get a life. You probably could not do any better as a news director, as you have no concept what news is. You are just jealous.

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    Kari: Okay, bungled joke hereby retracted in full. I can do that, right? ;)

    Kevin: I believe Kari was approaching this from the perspective of a consumer of news. His ability to perform the duties of a news director has no bearing on the conversation. Or should businesses not aim to meet their customers' needs?

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    Yeah, Kevin, you're right. Just because I'm not a chef, I have NO RIGHT to decide what tastes good and what doesn't.

    Damn the audience! Damn them!

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    But you're the "chief cook and bottle washer!" I'm confused.

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