Farmer File

A trend in news stories, on radio, TV and in print, is to include some puzzling details that have absolutely nothing to do with the importance or impact of the report.

These inclusions in the account of an incident or event sometimes go like these:

“A man and woman were killed in a wreck on I-75 this morning when their GMC Envoy hydroplaned in heavy rain and struck a pole.”

“The three car pileup happened when a Mazda Tribute rear-ended a Ford Focus, pushing that two-door car into the rear of a stopped Chevrolet Equinox.”

Which of the vital content of any good news report —who, what, when, where and why — does the brand of the vehicles cover?

Sometimes the make of car could be relevant, say if a Mack truck T-boned a Honda Fit. Talk about a mismatch with disastrous potential.

I guess it might make sense if, say, one car in a collision was a Rolls Royce Ghost and the other was a Smart ForTwo Pure. Everyone loves details about an unfair fight.

I once asked a TV producer in another state why local news so often names the cars when the type of car is irrelevant to what happened.

“It adds drama,” he explained, talking slowly as though I was a space alien.

If saying a chalk white Dodge Ram and a puce Ford 150 collided makes the report more exciting, then why not go all the way? How about:

“On the expressway a chartreuse Toyota Rav 4 with dice hanging from the rear view mirror and a ‘Hillary for President’ bumper sticker collided with a burnt orange 2008 Maybach Landaulet with special running boards for the servants, a vintage St. Christopher statue on the dashboard and a 'Putin Rocks' bumper sticker.”

On second thought, such details on that crash might be justified to go with the photo of what that Honda used to look like.

Swimming against the tide as I often do, I suspect the media will continue to overly detail irrelevant aspects of their reports. If so, here are some suggestions to juice up the stories:

“A mahogany tree fell on a detached garage in the windstorm last night. The 25.58 foot tree with smallish leaves fell at a 47 degree angle, breaking open the roof of the garage, exposing a formerly thriving meth lab and a couple of spare tires.”

“Two members of city council showed up at the same time for the regular meeting. They entered through the main door and were seen to be wearing similarly colored Docksiders with faux shearling linings.”

Don’t those two examples of news reporting just jump off the page or leap from your TV screen? I think what we have here is a case of too much information, TMI, and with the superficial nature of many media outlets these days, I never thought I’d say that.

One final example, sort of on point, was read on TV by my most favorite anchor person of all time.. “Police are looking for three men in ski masks who robbed the SoAndSo Bank this morning.”

It was a momentary lapse. She soon realized that, as police searched all day for the robbers, the bad guys probably were not still wearing the ski masks.

don@donfarmer.com

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