Local news

Janie Thibodeau Martin

There are multiple local TV news channels available to us, but long ago we settled on one to watch every morning.  It’s not blatantly-biased politically, (less politics is always better than an overdose) but the main reason we chose the one we are faithful to is we love their morning weather anchor.  He’s an old guy, without pretence.  He clearly a morning person who loves his job and finds weather fascinating.  He’s also an avid gardener, and occasionally broadcasts from his backyard garden.  There’s no drama or hyperbole; he’s been doing this for decades.  It’s “just the facts,” and endlessly cheerful, to boot.

The news crew is different.  The young men are attired in natty suits, often with a pocket kerchief and carefully styled hair.  The women are always immaculately dressed, often in incongruously sleeveless dresses in January. I can imagine the man in the suit and the woman with bear arms disagreeing forcefully about the temperature on set.  She’s always fully made up with blown-out hair.  So is he.  They get up at the up at the unholy hour of two or three a.m. to be at the station to review material and finalize their look.  It’s always great for me to wake up all rumpled in my winter pajamas which are basically a fleece snowmobile suit, and look at these ladies who appear ready for a cocktail party before my coffee takes hold.   

Because this is a small market station, we get lots of news anchors and reporters who cycle through.  They learn the ropes here, fresh out of college and then graduate to bigger city markets with bigger salaries.  Most of the endlessly-changing news team is pretty cookie-cutter; fresh-faced, attractive and apt to mispronounce the names of local towns and lakes.  By the time they master their local pronunciations and can reliably read the teleprompter without stutters or confusion, they are off to a better job.

Recently, we got a new “on the scene” reporter.   He appears to be fresh out of college like most of them, and looks about 16.  But he’s different, and Mike and I really enjoy him.

He looks a lot like we did when we were 16.   He would blend in seamlessly in any local grocery store or tavern, and no one would mistake him for a celebrity.  His voice is also a bit different than the typical reporter – he sounds like you and I.   When I look at him, I think “nice unpretentious young man.”  He may not have the typical appearance, but his earnest “tell it like it is” style and dry, witty sense of humor are natural.   He is unfailingly cheerful as well, even when he’s standing outside all bundled up reporting on a blizzard at 6 a.m.  

Either he has Wisconsin roots or he does his homework before standing in front of the camera because I haven’t heard him botch a pronunciation yet.  I really hope he sticks around a while. He is a breath of fresh air.

Local news is critical, and we need to support it.  We’ve all watched what has happened as even cities the size of Green Bay struggle to hold on to their daily newspaper.  The loss of local news stations, or turning them into low-budget regurgitations of the national news on their affiliated mainstream channels would be devastating.  

National news is so dispiriting I need the local news to reassure me.  I rarely listen to the doom and gloom on national TV news but when I do, I re-ground myself by knowing that is NOT what I see happening around me.  I see, on the local news, that a neighboring community’s high school basketball team won the state “D” title.  The local food bank is expanding to a larger facility and a spicy senior citizen turned 100 years old.  Thank goodness for local news and for Justin and Jimmie.

Book I am reading: “This is Cuba,” non-fiction by Ben Corbett.  This is an older book, and consists of interviews of Cubans focused on their daily lives under Fidel Castro.  Americans who think things are so terrible in our country should read this eye-opening book.

I welcome commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address:  JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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