Tag Archives: television news

Bucklebury bride

A few days ago, one of my favorite sources of online commentary, Fake AP Stylebook, posted this: “About 176,938 reporters are covering the Royal Wedding, or three for every person actually interested in the story.”

I certainly don’t propose to precipitate on the procession of the Prince and Princess. They deserve a jolly nuptial.

But for Pete’s sake, these past weeks, I couldn’t escape the coverage. I switched from one news channel to the next, seeking something else. One would hardly know there was anything else going on in the world. Perhaps this is the reason – our fellow planet dwellers have been looking for a fanciful distraction and the news outlets were only too happy to deliver.

The fact that American network anchors are in London to cover the festivities has me a bit puzzled. It’s as if the whole world were in an imperial trance.

I tried to come up with a unique angle from which to write about it, but it’s all been done. The weird and tacky commemorative souvenirs. The event as perceived by the male species. How British police have deployed a special team of security forces for the “mentally unhinged and the royal-obsessed.” The repeated use of the word “commoner” to describe the bride. Even how much fun the name of her home town is to say: Bucklebury.

I don’t recall that the 1981 affair received this much ink and air time. Then again, I didn’t have a television. I was attending university in Spain. We had no TV in our dorm rooms, but we had a whopper of a movie theatre in the basement, where we watched weekly episodes of Dallas dubbed into Spanish (¿Quién tiró J.R.?). And the Royal Wedding.

It was truly a thrill, being a young woman of 21 (even then I was older than the Princess), watching the procession on the big screen, without having to have gotten up at 4:00 a.m., with fellow students from countries around the world, including Texas.

It must have made quite an impression because just four years later, I walked down the aisle of an Anglican church, carrying calla lilies and English roses, wearing the second poofiest dress you’ve ever seen, pulling a really long train behind me. And I married a prince.

Now that proceedings are underway, I’m a bit more excited, but I must be off to work. I’ll be watching the reruns tonight at a small gathering of my college chums. Don’t expect a review to appear here tomorrow because everything that can be said will have by then.

Cheerio!

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Travel

Anchor away

It looks pretty certain that Katie Couric will be stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News. I have mixed feelings about this. Not that anyone asked.

I was a latecomer to the Katie Couric fan club, but am a member nonetheless. I didn’t watch her on Today until fairly late on her stint there. And, it’s embarrassing to admit, I didn’t watch her when she was a local reporter here in Washington.

It wasn’t until time of the 1992 presidential campaign that I gave her a try. She was a little cutesy for my taste and I just wasn’t comfortable getting my news from such a pixie, opting instead for the more serious Paula Zahn. One event that turned me away from Katie was when she interviewed Ross Perot and kept putting words in his mouth. He would say something and then she’d say, “So what you’re saying is…” and it wasn’t anywhere close to what he was saying. I didn’t go back for a while after that.

Something else that has bothered me about Katie Couric is always her pronunciation of “ing;” she ends every gerund with “een.” This is especially distracting during coverage of the Olympics, what with the swim-een, dive-een, run-een, skate-een and ski-een.

But I’ve gotten past all that.

Over the years I’ve seen Katie Couric mature as a newswoman; I consider her one of the best. Her assignment to the CBS anchor post was well deserved, even if she ultimately doesn’t feel it suits her interests. I think she does a terrific job with her 60 Minutes segments. Her interviewing skills have come a long way. Just ask Sarah Palin.

As far as ratings are concerned, I’m guilty. I’m a Brian Williams Fan. But I often watch Katie at 6:30 and Brian at 7:00. If Katie feels constrained behind the anchor desk, she should find another outlet for her talent and personality. If CBS blames her for the news show’s ratings, I’m not sure the blame is merited. No matter.

Katie Couric deserves to be happy and professionally fulfilled. She has lost a husband and a sister, reared two daughters and raised awareness and funds for an evil disease. She has more than proven her acumen as a competent newswoman. She’s even tweeting out Words of the Day and then using each one in a sentence. Most of all, she takes her work seriously while not taking herself too seriously.

So Katie, go do what makes you happy. Host your own show in your very own style. Come back to Washington. Go back and replace Meredith on Today (please!). Whatever you decide, you have my support.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, News, Politics

Disastrous dialect

Something has been bothering me and I wonder if I might run it by you.

Has anyone else noticed that people who are interviewed on television after witnessing a disaster or other extraordinary occurrence often use horrendous grammar?

I don’t know if it’s television news media exploiting innocent bystanders, whether disasters tend to occur more often in places inhabited by the less educated or if the combination of trauma and a news camera causes people to bungle their speech.

It seems to me that, far more often than not, when asked what they saw, these witnesses begin with “I seen it…”  Whether it’s a tornado coming at them or a crime taking place before their eyes, they say they “seen it comin’.” 

I have noticed this consistently over time, on local stations, major morning programs and network evening news. It pains me to be so judgmental but the pattern is too prevalent to ignore.

You might have heard that yesterday severe storms hit the Washington, D.C., area, crippling much of the Metro region with fallen trees and power lines. As one of the fortunate few who had electricity, I was able to watch the news coverage on television. I heard “I seen it” from multiple witnesses on multiple channels throughout the day.

Not only do these witnesses say they “seen” something, but some also use “come” as past tense, as in, “it come up behind me.”

One doesn’t have to travel far to find pockets of people who either never learned the basics or have chosen to abandon them. It troubles me enough that I find such poor speech distasteful, but it troubles me even more to see the spotlight on people who speak this way. I can’t quite pinpoint why.

Please don’t dismiss “I seen it” and “it come up” as colloquial because frankly, I’m tired of colloquialism being used to condone poor grammar. Admittedly, I am the first to begin a sentence with a conjunction or end one with a preposition when style authorities allow it in certain instances. It’s a fine line but, if we accept “where are you at?” before long every violation of good grammar will be embraced in the name of popular culture. 

If any members of the media happen to read this, perhaps they’d be willing to offer insight into why the witnesses they interview so often seem to speak this way. Perhaps they could also explain why, when people appear in the studio after seeing someone fall into a well or take a steak knife through the temple, they almost always appear in t-shirts and ball caps. If you were being interviewed on national television, from a studio in Midtown Manhattan, would you show up in shorts and a cap? Do producers believe this lends some particular folksy charm and, if so, are they intentionally making witnesses look like bumpkins? Worse, are they coaching people to say “I seen it?” 

I doubt this is the case. Either way, if anyone has answers, I am eager to put these haunting thoughts to rest.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, News