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The News Doesn’t Have to Be All Bad

This week’s compilation of thoughts on the news was inspired by a social media post from one of the many broadcast journalists that I follow on social media and respect in real life.

WGN-TV Chicago’s Bronagh Tumulty was covering the last day of Lollapalooza 2023 and apparently became involved in the off-air search for a concertgoer’s lost ring while waiting for her live shot. The more specific details are lost to this writer but in a post to X, formerly Twitter, Ms. Tumulty made the successful recovery of the ring the conclusion to her story.

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A delightful ending to some solid but otherwise familiar coverage of a four-day music festival.

Did it have to go in the live shot?

Maybe not, but I bet it distinguished WGN’s coverage from anybody else’s that evening. From the short posting, those following learned that the Lollapalooza fan named Lily had lost the ring near the station’s live truck but had to leave without finding it.

Ms. Tumulty ended her report with a shout-out to Lily, holding up the ring that had been recovered after she had to leave in her Uber.

The reporter even told her live on the air to contact the station so she could make arrangements to get her ring back.

I love a “feel good” story. And that’s my point.

I also love good reporters doing good things but I will attempt to stick to one topic today.

This was another example of something nice, a good tale, a happy ending.

Have you ever noticed how all the misery, tension, and monotony is crammed up at the top of the newscast?

An average TV news rundown usually consists of the following:

1: Tease mostly negative stories

2: Tease weather without telling you what the weather actually will be…yet.

3-7: Tragic, depressing, or annoying story. (Somebody is dead in there usually)

6-11: Lather, rinse, repeat.

12: Tell us a little more about the weather…but not enough.

13: A national package about postage stamps or a new recipe with SPAM.

14: The dramatic conclusion of weather’s three-part episode.

15: Finally, the kicker about the cat who conducted the Boise Philharmonic.

Okay, that actually is way more content than one can expect from a half-hour news block, but I was not going to renumber that list and perhaps it drives my point home a little better.

Ending strong doesn’t necessarily mean ending hard, yet the “We’ll leave you with this” narratives always come late in the show if not at the goodbyes.

Now I’m not talking about the kicker stories, I already blustered on about them a few months back and I fully support the quest to bake the world’s biggest cream puff as well as any coverage about a tree in Colorado that grew into the shape of Dean Martin.

You can take a show in a different direction now and then without ignoring the news. Really, what’s the point if everybody leads and follows with exactly the same thing at almost the same time?

More than once, Billy Martin picked his starting lineup out of a hat. In fact, it was 51 years ago next week he did it while managing the Detroit Tigers before doing it again five years later with Yankees.

Imagine doing that with the news.

Would anyone really make that much of a fuss if the Little League team’s fundraiser for the homeless led off the newscast and the double shooting was dropped down to sixth in the order? Okay, a panicked executive producer and an irate news director maybe but the audience won’t care.

Sitting in the booth, these are the philosophical questions I used to bounce off the director. Could we top with the lost dog returning home even if it was only three days later and not three years?

It’s probably best we didn’t find out but how long before some news visionary comes along and really does throw the rule book away?

Did those directors quash the future of a visionary?

Unlikely.

But in the meantime, I give Ms. Tumulty all the praise in the world and I’m glad Lily gets her ring back.

Bill Zito
Bill Zitohttps://barrettmedia.com
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.

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