Remember the good ol’ days when Los Angeles was an interesting city that captivated the world? Hollywood films were made in Hollywood, Charles Manson and his crazies had us bewitched, ugh, transfixed in front of our televisions? There were the Zodiac murders, which got this eight year old thinking about her astrological sign. Race riots in Watts captivated a nation in the sixties and not to be outdone, L.A. of the nineties with a little help from Rodney King, reminded us that no, we (still) can’t all just get along. Burning and looting followed, and soon we saw one Reginald Denny cursing the day he decided to be a truck driver. (Later he would remark that he should have used the waiting period for receiving his truck operating license to research other job opportunities)
Gone are the days of old. We simply don’t muster the kind of attention the other big cities do. Even O.J. has decided to take his “alleged” indiscretions elsewhere. The crips and the bloods have called a truce, and, for the most part obeyed, with most members settling down to retire and write children’s books. L.A. is in her twilight years, settling down to take a long nap. We’re boring. Our traffic situation isn’t even the worst. We’ve got nothing to compete for “best-worst-big-city-full-of-tragedy-of-the-year-award”. The only legitimate shot we have at winning the award is entering with the ‘hey, we have immigration marches!’ But when New Orleans has Katrina and Chicago has Kanye West (if anyone disagrees with this as a tragedy I beg you to take a look at the song ‘good life’ and let the line ‘I’m salty... Lawry’s nigga’ assault your ears, and then tell me he is not a tragedy) and New York with the ever so popular 9-11 lifetime entry, it’s going to take something more than a little immigration rally dust up to get us noticed. My proposal? Stop trying! Let us, let ourselves (Angelinos) be known as the “Sleepiest Peaceful Little Big City in the World with a Disneyland!”
Now it seems to me the only people who haven’t gotten the memo about L.A.’s retirement are the local news anchors, reporters and L.A. Times writers and photojournalists. So I, being a sweet and gentile person, have decided to resend the memo reminding these offenders of their offenses and offering gentle suggestions on how to correct any further problems.
See below attached memo.
To: KTLA, KCAL9, KABC LA, KTTV, FOX 11, John and Ken, 1070 news radio….
CC: LOS ANGELES TIMES and staff writers
Re: You are all retarded and need to abide by a newly imposed Stay of Reporting.
The state of Los Angeles –
· No one is interested in the goings on of Los Angeles unless your subject is a celebrity and that celebrity is on drugs. TMZ and a very mean man named Perez Hilton handle all Celebrity related material so please do not bother looking for that story.
· We’re on the D list of celebrity cities. Huge disasters just don’t happen here anymore. So when something like a fire, or an earthquake or a Metrolink crash does happen, please don’t play it up like it’s the biggest thing to happen here since the nineties; it’s makes us look like pathetic attention whores.
Recent troubles in reporting-
· Sticking a microphone in the face of someone who has just lost their house, or just been pulled out of a derailed train and asking “how are you feeling?” is not going to win you the George Polk excellence in television journalism award. It is however going to make you look like a cold, heartless wretch. P.S. If you stand next to a smoldering house and ask someone how they are feeling, you also look incompetent for having to ask the question.
· Announcing on live television that neighbors whose houses were not burned down must feel guilt that they were spared and their neighbors weren’t isn’t going to get you that anchor job at CBS - NBC? yes, but CBS no. It will on the other hand encourage that “spared” neighbor to drink heavily, now feeling the guilt you put into his head and out to the nation. Not to worry though, you’ll get a story out of this in six months when you do the follow up and after a heavy night of drinking the neighbor guiltily comes to the door (the only door left in this ravaged neighborhood) in his bathrobe and you stick the microphone in his face and ask him how he is feeling.
· Stop sweating the small stuff. During the Los Angeles (hiccup) earthquake, reporters turned a little bitty thing into a huge national ordeal just by talking! Reporters on TV. with national anchors said things like: “yeah, I was sitting in my chair when I felt the ground shaking and I thought about maybe getting up and running into the doorway” Stop! You’re over reporting! If you have time to think about what you might do during an earthquake, well then that’s not really an earthquake. It’s an earth-shake, and not worthy of “breaking news” status. Certainly not worthy of interrupting Oprah- which you did-.
· On site reporters: if you have to wear a fire retardant Ralph Lauren blazer so that you’re camera ready and safe- it means you’re too close to the fires. Go away! Report from somewhere safe, like, I don’t know, your studios? There is no point to being right where the “action’ is. And remember ‘action’ is an offensive word when used in response to a tragedy. Let’s seem sympathetic to the poor people involved for at least twenty four hours.
· Stop using the following words: Major, total, sweeping, destruction, massive, Chaos*
· In regards to the chaos remark so commonly used with the Metrolink “disaster” it has been reported (wink) that most of the chaos was caused by reporters interviewing victims before emergency medical technicians could give treatment causing a chaotic atmosphere reminiscent of a Terry Gilliam film set. We have come up with the following acronym to assist you in sequence of response should another disaster occur: D.E.A.R.G.O.D!: Disaster, Emergency, Assistance, Reporters-Get Only Dafacts!
Problems in photojournalism-
· Stop embellishing and doctoring photos! I’m talking specifically to LA Times
and the bloggers here. In the picture below, used by the Los Angeles Times, we
see an example of the great destruction of the July 30, 2008 earthquake:
The problem? It’s a set up. Why are there paper towels in the juice aisle of a super market? Where did they come from? This looks like an obvious attempt to stir up hysteria about the little earthquake that couldn’t. In the future, if there isn’t anything to report-don’t!
Plan of action:
Proposed Stay of Reporting:
It has become clear to me and others on this board that the news organizations are guilty of sensationalizing the news at the expense of those involved in what truly are tragic and disastrous moments. We the citizens of Los Angeles in order to protect our fellow Angelinos propose that all news organizations, papers, bloggers etc. abide by a 72 hour Stay of Reporting. Speaking for the board I feel it is not such a great thing to ask of them, after all, waiting periods are part of everyday life. We as citizens must endure waiting periods before obtaining a marriage license, gun permit, truck operating license, legal status. As adults we are encouraged to wait for a few days before calling after a first date (one of the waiting periods I will never understand! But alas...). We wait to argue, feeling that in the event that a cooling off period takes place it may save us from saying things we don’t mean. And this is exactly my point. I understand that you as journalists don’t intend to seem silly, or frivolous, or worse; insensitive rambling fools in it to make a name for yourself. Sadly, this is exactly what you sound like when you report on events “as they happen” Give it up! No one is that interested in L.A. as a spectacle anymore. We don’t need to see the minute to minute details of the pain and anguish our fellow Angelinos are going through. Let them have their disaster and grieve and be sad without having to surmise what they feel while they are standing in front of their smoldering house! Back off! Let them breathe. I propose three days. Fires in Montecito? Thanks for the info, in three days I will sit down and listen to a reporter with some perspective and calm talk for more than thirty seconds to Mary Angelino about the heartbreaking loss of the house she has lived in for forty years.