Posted by: mbtrotter | January 25, 2011

The local TV news can of worms.

Local TV news has been in Seth MacFarlane’s sights throughout this season of Family Guy. Replacing longtime Quahog 5 anchor Diane Simmons opened up more opportunities for the show to explore and comment on issues in local news, and viewers got to see the show’s take on several of them in “And I’m Joyce Kinney.”

First up — after Brian’s declaration he hates local news — was a riff on what’s become a standard feature of many newscasts.

Brian may be onto something saying he hates local news. From 1998 to 2008, local news viewership fell from 64 percent of Americans to 52 percent, according to Pew Research’s The State of the News Media report.

And “Child of the Month” would have to be the MacFarlane take on Wednesday’s Child adoption features, sponsored by Freddie Mac Foundation. Partner stations in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., broadcast weekly segments about children waiting to be adopted, and the practice has caught on in other markets, too.

The anchors, of course, are never so brutally or inappropriately honest, but Lois’ reaction is probably the norm among viewers.

Later in the episode, we learn Lois really likes new anchor Joyce Kinney. As in, fangirl.

There are fan sites for ESPN’s Erin Andrews, Fox News’ Julie Banderas and CNBC’s Erin Burnett, but they’re on networks. From personal experience, however, I can tell you people usually hold their local TV news personalities in high regard. During an internship at KABC-TV in 2008, the No. 1 question I got about the position was, “What’s so-and-so like?” There’s something about being on TV that leads people to think “celebrity.” Newspaper or online reporters? Meh. TV reporters? Where?! OMG!

By the way, pretty spot-on depiction of the news station. Did you notice what didn’t belong? That’s right, the guy smoking in the edit bay; you can’t smoke inside anywhere. If you said Tom Tucker’s bizarre close to the newscast, you must not have heard about Fox 5 New York’s Ernie Anastos. Think Tom is so outrageous now?

Although it didn’t use the wording journalists are used to, the episode was based on the idea of statements made on the record and those made off the record.

The whole “off the record” idea is much more complicated than people realize, even for journalists. But what is understood is that to be off the record, a source has to ask for it.

Lois can be angry and feel betrayed; she felt she and Joyce were having a conversation as friends. But there was never an agreement or even an indication that their conversation over drinks was off the record.

(Note: This episode concluded with the revelation Joyce became an anchor at Quahog 5 to get revenge on Lois, who had bullied her in their high school years. I’m not addressing that because I hope everyone understands that’s a terrible motivation to become a journalist, and one that wouldn’t get a person very far in his or her career as one.)

Bonus! The schlocky local news intro

If you’ve seen an actual news intro like this, I want to see it.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of 20th Century Fox Television and was purchased by the author for not-for-profit use.



  1. “If you’ve seen an actual news intro like this, I want to see it.”

    This was a parody of local news promos from the 1980s — like this one:

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