Hey, ma, there’s us on the Telly Vision!
It has to be, for so many reasons, one of the strangest e-mail bombs that’s ever detonated in my inbox.
A few months back, some of you may remember, Sacramento’s Fox40 news crew came up to Nevada City for a Victorian Christmas. They talked about pasties, gave the weather report off Broad Street, etc. It was cute.
Beforehand, they sent us about 20 press releases (I’m not kidding) announcing their impending arrival. Readership Editor Dixie Redfearn wrote a little preview in her Page A2 column, which you folks have made one of the best-read parts of the paper.
So everyone’s cool, right? Apparently not.
The day of that fateful Victorian Christmas, I got a quite perturbed e-mail from Steve Kraycik, Fox40’s news director. He apparently missed Dixie’s column, and he was just short of having an coronary over our failure to sound the trumpets appropriately:
“When we request coverage to let folks know what we’re doing, you ignore us,” he wrote. “We believe it’s a newsworthy event when a TV station devotes part of an entire hour newscast to one community and the people and issues there. It’s frustrating.”
I’ve received a few such e-mails about under-coverage in my time at The Union, and I most often agree with the writer. Recently, we had a photographer out at the Nevada County Food and Toy Run, but several readers felt we should have brought in a reporter that Saturday to write about it. It’s a good point, and it’s led us to focus on expanding to a seven-day reporting schedule.
But this one … oh man, where to start?
Of course, I wrote back and politely pointed out Dixie’s column. He apologized profusely, which is a guilty pleasure for anyone who gets a nastygram.
But it was his underlying message, not really the tone, that boggled my mind.
The message: We should run around town, grabbing the banjos out of every hand on every porch in Nevada County, sending everyone posthaste to the appliance store window, where they can see their own town ON THE TELLY VISION!
“The reason I’m disappointed is that people in any area are so quick to complain that television news lacks localism … that we don’t cover the ‘good news’ in our communities,” Kraycik wrote. “Well, FOX40’s Your Town broadcasts are a perfect way that we do that.”
Hey, good for you.
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that The Union has had reporters down in Sacramento in the past few months, but they failed to make a spot on Fox40’s evening broadcast.
I’m probably going over the top here – well, I am a newspaper columnist – but don’t you think this e-mail paints a vivid portrait of the dreaded Flatlander Syndrome that plagues a portion of the urban population?
I used to be guilty, as well. I grew up in medium-sized cities, working for medium-sized or frighteningly large newspapers. I assumed small papers reported on the grain harvest, or farm subsidies, or, I don’t know, a silo shortage. Sometimes we do, but damned if I don’t find our small-town stories more compelling, dramatic and intellectually stimulating than the big-picture navel gazing of the mega media.
So with that off my chest, I’ve drafted a form letter for the TV crews who feel their arrival should be heralded appropriately:
“Dear (news crew), we sure are excited about your decision to visit the simple mining folk of Nevada County. I have strung a welcome banner across the entryway into town, and the missus is cooking up her famous rhubarb pie. Since you are coming up from the big city, though, I ask you please help supply us with fresh sundries. Purified water is always a luxury, and Mizz Dixie has requested 20 yards of denim and six gallons of sorghum molasses. God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we’ll see you in a fortnight. Love, The Union.”
David Griner is interim managing editor of The Union and is a sucker for a good rhubarb pie. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-4230.
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