Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Me Thinks We is not So Stupid as WKRC Channel 12 News Thinks We is

Normally, I don't watch the evening news. Long ago I learned that if you really want to know what's going on in the world, you just simply don't watch the news. You might luck out and learn something in the newspaper, and now with the Internet it's possible to actually get accurate information, but the local T.V. news is vague at best and downright wrong at worst.

Many years ago, during our funeral home days, I saw my first blatant example of bad reporting. One of the newscasters made a big to-do about an 'in depth" report she had done that had taken over "3 months" to complete. "3 months" she kept telling the viewers, "3 months". To watch her promote her own story, you'd think that 3 months of research was incredibly scholarly and that after airing on the evening news, she'd be submitting her report for her Phd.

During the "3 months of intense research" -- where I guess she was calling local funeral homes -- she compiled a list of the "average" cost of a funeral from each home. Then she took the list and put them in order from cheapest to most expensive. Voila. An expose`. (sorry, I tried for the little French markie thingie).

Only there was one fundamental problem. She never found out what each funeral home was considering "average" to the cost of a funeral. So, some funeral homes added in the average cost of a casket (at that time something like $5000), and some did not. So, some of the "cheaper" funeral homes were actually the most expensive, and some of the middle-of-the-road and even expensive, were actually the most reasonable.

Boy, and that was after 3 months of exhaustive research.

Last night, though, there was a report that should be eligible for some kind Darwin Award or something. Apparently, Duke Energy has proposed a monthly increase in its customer service charge -- from $6 to $15. The increase is to cover the cost of repairing some of the piping that carries the natural gas into the city.

Now, I can understand investigating the veracity of their claim. I can understand investigating Duke Energy's accounting. But I can't understand the stupidity of what I saw last night.

First of all, Channel 12 claimed that Duke was nearly tripling people's heating bills. From the actual report, it appears that people's entire heating bill is not tripling, one charge is increasing. Also, the last time I checked, $15 isn't 3x 6 (18 is, see I am good at math, just not spelling.)

Secondly, I think that if a pipe system that carries natural gas all over our city is in need of repair, then I want it repaired! I've spent enough time in countries where the infrastructure is a mess, and, trust me, we don't want that here. Not only is it dangerous, but it's a frustrating way to live. I don't know about Channel 12's Angela Ingram, but I like living in a city where I have a consistent supply of natural gas for my furnace. I've stayed in cities, in winter, where it's not like that. It really isn't a joke. It stinks. Maybe Ms. Ingram and the other Channel 12 reporters would like to take some cold showers or wear 3 or 4 layers of clothing and still be cold at home.

But then, thirdly, Channel 12 really scraped the bottom of the barrel. I guess it was a slow news night. They interviewed a 91 year old woman about how this terrible rate increase would effect her.

I understand that there are people on fixed incomes. In fact, while not on a 'fixed' income, I am on a really tight budget! However, this was just ridiculous! They just breezed right past the bigger picture of keeping the infrastructure solid and jumped right to the emotional story of a little old lady, shivering in her apartment.

According to the news story, as it is, this lady can never turn her heat above 70 degrees during the day, and turns it down to 68 degrees at night. Already, she's ahead of us, who never turn it above 67 degrees during the day or night.

My heavens people! According to channel 12, this poor lady has had to put plastic over her windows, and, gasp, use multiple blankets at night!!! While this injustice ever end???

I'm all about taking care of the elderly, and I certainly don't want this lady to be cold and uncomfortable, but I still don't see what her heating issues have to do with a cost increase of $9 a month. In addition to that, I fail to see why the elderly should be exempt from doing things like keeping the heat at 70, covering windows in plastic, wearing multiple layers of clothing and using multiple blankets at night. These things don't hurt anybody. In fact, we should all be doing those things -- or perhaps channel 12 isn't concerned about how our over usage of energy can and is contributing to higher bills. Heaven forbid we take any personal responsibility for anything!

I can't even understand what their point would be, unless they just simply want to incite some kind of emotional response against Duke Energy and then end up with either a poor infrastructure, or some kind government-sponsored fix. In reality, though, I think that they just don't know where to really go for the story.


truthfinder said...

"Exhaustive research" is just not what it used to be! And,yes, it does seem that a bit of hyperbole has come into play at WKRC news. (However, in all fairness to the 90-year-old woman, frail little old ladies with poor circulation can actually develop hypothermia --- even with layers of clothing and blankets). Please keep alerting us to media misrepresentation, Deb!

Deb said...

The 90-year-old woman wasn't complaining about keeping her room temperature at 70 -- the "reporter" was asking her about it and making it into an issue. From what I read, the elderly are recommended to keep their heat no lower than 68 degrees. I would keep it at 70, personally, but in either way, this woman was not in any danger. She was simply a pawn used by a cut-rate reporter to draw an emotional response from the viewing audience.