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More educated thoughts about local TV coverage of the presidential visit


By Alan Pergament 

My Thursday blog and Friday column in the Buffalo News contained my initial impressions of the local TV coverage of President Obama's visit to the University at Buffalo.

Here are some additional thoughts The Day After that resulted from my dial switching during the 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. local news block and the network newscasts Thursday:

While Western New Yorkers were understandably excited about the visit, network news didn’t deem it newsworthy. The NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News completely ignored the visit. It will be interesting to see if the Sunday morning talk shows address it at all.

Channel 4's Don Postles opened one newscast by channeling misleading political ads by saying that "News 4 has been bringing you the most comprehensive team coverage since ‘Wake Up!’ this morning.”

Talkin' TV decided to do a truth test. Channel 4 did a very good job on the story. But actually Channel 2 broke into the "Today" show at 9:26 a.m. to report on the President’s Air Force One leaving Washington, D.C. when Channel 4 was carrying "Rachael Ray" and later "Let’s Make a Deal." Channel 4 didn't interrupt its regular programming for almost 45 minutes after Channel 2 began its coverage.

On one of its evening newscasts, Channel 2 used a "Brady Bunch"-type graphic to show the faces of 15 people who were going to be part of its coverage. Pretty impressive.

I don't think I've been more impressed by Channel 2's Melissa Holmes than I was by her anchoring of the morning coverage and her questioning of two local educators.

Channel 7 anchor Keith Radford also was impressive, asking the right questions of local leaders and the UB star of the night, Silvana D’Ettorre.

Channel 2’s Claudine Ewing also scored with an interview with D'Ettorre in which the UB sophomore said the President told her "I have a great smile so I should be a dentist." I can just hear some Republicans saying, "there he goes again, complimenting a woman." Of course, Channel 2’s Maryalice
Demler had to add her two cents, saying that the student "had so much composure, so much poise. I was thrilled for her." Of course, it was all about your feelings, Maryalice.

In interviews, former TV news personnel often bring up the absurdity of having to do live standups in front of places where news was made several hours after the news event was over. I was reminded of that as Channel 4's Ed Drantch was outside UB's Alumni Arena and Channel 2's Demler was inside it during the evening newscasts. At least Demler could point to UB personnel cleaning up the area. Drantch was reduced to saying "things are pretty different than they were hours ago.” I’m sure all the former reporters I have spoken to laughed at that one.

I’m not a fan of stations reading remarks made on Twitter since they usually state the obvious. Channel 2's Demler read some tweets from people who were just quoting what the President said in his speech. The way Demler delivered them, a viewer might have thought the tweeters were saying it.

Not surprisingly, all the stations eventually did a little story about the Presidential flub in which the president confused Congressman Brian Higgins with Mayor Byron Brown. I only saw Demler address it in the afternoon.

It was amusing to hear a teen-age girl in an interview on one station say that she used to think the President was a robot but after seeing him she’s decided “he is a real man.” Who says the quality of high school education can be low here?

The President made a relatable point by mentioning that he and the First Lady had to pay off their college debt when they should have been saving for Malia and Sasha's college education. But somehow I think they won’t have any financial problems now sending their daughters to college.

I felt a little badly for my tennis friend Charlie the Butcher when the President didn't stop in after the speech. But I doubt any President is going to go to a restaurant that people expect him to go to. The Secret Service wouldn't like that. The President ate lunch at a popular Rochester restaurant, where undoubtedly more people decided he was "a real man."

Channel 4’s Drantch sounded more like a cheerleader than a reporter when he ended his report by enthusiastically saying regardless of your party affiliation the presidential visit shined "such a wonderful spotlight on our community."

I would have rather have read that in a tweet from a viewer than from a reporter. And you know how much I love tweets.

The network newscasts that followed didn''t agree with Drantch's sentiment.



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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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