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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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Pandering for ratings at Channel 4

If I worked in the newsroom at WTMJ-TV, I would be ashamed to show my face in public after the new stunt the station has created to get more viewers.

The ratings period starts Thursday and the station is going to give away an iPad every night of the ratings period. All you have to do is "like" the station's Facebook page and then watch the news at 10 when John Malan will announce the winner.

I don't care how they try to spin this. It's just as bad as the horror-filled greed of Oprah giving away hundreds of cars and as transparently absurd as Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew or Dr. Nancy or someone pretending to heal fake patients.

I was watching last night when Mike Jacobs, a guy who I respect, held up an iPad while announcing this contest. His hand moved gently around the iPad.

The next anchors at WTMJ will probably be Vanna White and one of those models on the 'The Price Is Right" who show off the prizes.

The only reason to do this is to lure more viewers to the station. I guess there's nothing wrong with that. I mean it's a business, right?

But it seems like car dealers who offer gifts for taking a test ride. "Try our car and get two tickets to the Dells, or breakfast for two at Denny's or a free tank of gas."

The problem is that the news shows are not cars. I think the reason someone ought to watch a particular news program is that the viewer has faith in the honesty and integrity of the station's news operation. The viewer believes that they are going to actually get some "news."

Generally speaking those days are long gone. The only station in town that even comes close to doing real news is Channel 12. Channel 6 comes close. But Channel 4 is the news leader, so that shows what I know.

I realize that I may be old fashioned here, but sometimes the old fashioned things were just fine. I think the crap we are generally fed on local news is a gigantic waste of our time.

I know and like a lot of people at Channel 4. The big boss, Steve Wexler, is a friend and a guy who I really like and respect. For me, though, this is a lot like having a close friend who still smokes cigarettes. You still love him but you want to slap him upside his head and say "have you any idea what the hell you are doing?"

Like I said, Channel 4, shame on you!

Talkbacks

cuprisin | Oct. 31, 2011 at 12:22 p.m. (report)

If you're referring to me when you write "Tim," this blog post was written by Dave Begel and reflects only his personal opinion. It is not a reflection of my opinions on the issue.

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mikeb | Oct. 31, 2011 at 12:17 p.m. (report)

Tim,

The very website you get paid by shamelessly panders for an audience on the web. Have you forgotten about "sex week" or the multiple interviews with porn stars and such.

Of course the response will be "this website is not a hard news outfit". That is true, but it's been a long time since the local news has been a hard news outfit either. If they were each telecast wouldn't focus half its time on weather or a tug at the heartstrings special feature.

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beefsupreme | Oct. 29, 2011 at 12:14 p.m. (report)

i think that a omc giveaway would prove to be wildly successful.

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rabid652 | Oct. 28, 2011 at 12:07 p.m. (report)

Ahh yes...the ever sophisticated technique of attacking the messenger.

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EastSideMKE | Oct. 28, 2011 at 8:59 a.m. (report)

"It's just as bad as the horror-filled greed of Oprah giving away hundreds of cars and as transparently absurd as Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew or Dr. Nancy or someone pretending to heal fake patients."

Hyperbolic much? How exactly is giving away hundreds of cars an example of one's "horror-filled greed," whatever that means? I would think that clearly falls under generosity. I know this is only a blog entry, so it shouldn't be placed under the same scrutiny as a real news piece, however, sometimes it's hard to tell on this site. The writing at OMC and Shepherd Express borders on amateurish and is of no better in quality than that of the college students who staff the UWM Post or MATC Times.

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