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Infotainment for the Attention-Span-Impaired

Reported by Nancy - November 7, 2005 -

Today (11/7) on FNL, Bill Hemmer turned in another sad performance in the David Asman mold. The last hour of the program was an endless succession of mini-blurbs that conveyed little real information. Actual "hard" stories of some importance were given short shrift (e.g., the riots in France & the situation in Iraq each merited a 2-minute report (by Greg Burke & Reena Ninan respectively) plus multiple teasers by Hemmer). But several stories in the classic Fox mold -- death row escapee captured! former beauty pageant queen still missing! -- got the full FNL treatment: teasers, multiple clips & interviews, mini-blurbs & excessive repetition. There was even an ALERT at 12:38pm so Hemmer could report that DEA officials announced that Pete Rose Jr will plead guilty to drug charges.

The worst of these "classics," in terms of the amount of national air time allotted to an essentially local story, was a story about an elementary school in Maryland that was "put into a lockdown" because there was a report that a man with a gun had been spotted outside the school.

12:25pm (all times ET) - ALERT - Hemmer showed video (courtesy of Fox affiliate WTTG) from Upper Marlboro County MD, where Arrowhead Elementary School had been "put into a lockdown" because a man with a gun had been spotted outside the school.

12:30pm - ALERT - Hemmer repeated the info about the school on lockdown in MD

12:41pm - Hemmer interviewed (by phone) Kelly Alexander (public info officer, Prince George Schools) about the school on lockdown in MD; she did a decent job of conveying calm professionalism, considering that she had nothing to offer except to repeat that police are investigating a report that a man with a gun had been spotted outside the school.

12:43pm - teaser: school on lockdown in MD

12:49pm - ALERT plus teaser: school on lockdown in MD

12:53pm - ALERT - school on lockdown in MD & "the hunt is on" for a man with a gun

12:56pm - Hemmer repeated the info about the school on lockdown in MD

Comment: FNL uses non-stories like this both as a fear-mongering tool & as a way to avoid covering other stories of more importance to viewers.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL tactics as illustrated above). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.