< Yeah Baby, Yeah Baby, Yeah Baby

Transcript

Friday, October 25, 2013

BOB GARFIELD:  The stakes of TV news corner cutting aren't always so dire. For instance, Conan O’Brien's late-night talk show has an occasional segment called “Media Reacts,” featuring local TV news anchors displaying their brands of fiercely independent journalism.

  [CLIP]:

NEWS ANCHOR:  But is it time for dogs to have a social network of their own?

  [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

NEWS ANCHOR:  Well, is it time for dogs to have a social network of their own?

NEWS ANCHOR:  Is it time for dogs to have a social network of their own?

 [SOUND OF OTHER NEWS ANCHORS/UP AND UNDER]

BOB GARFIELD:  A fetching question, ha, get it, fetching! [LAUGHS] Last week, KWWL of Waterloo, Iowa was one station showcased in Conan’s montage. This time, the story was about actor Mike Meyers, of Austin Powers fame, expecting a second child.

  [CLIP]:

NEWS ANCHOR:  “Yeah, baby.”

NEWS ANCHOR:  Mike Meyers says, “Yeah, Baby.”

  [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

NEWS ANCHOR:  Mike Meyers says, “Yeah, Baby!”

NEWS ANCHOR:  Mike Meyers says, “Yeah, Baby.”

NEWS ANCHOR:  Mike Meyers says, “Yeah, Baby!”

  [END CLIP]

BOB GARFIELD:  Dan Schillinger is the news director of KWWL. Dan, welcome to On the Media.

DAN SCHILLINGER:  Thank you.

BOB GARFIELD:  Obviously, 20 stations don't independently contrive exactly the same interest [LAUGHS] in the Mike Myers story. How does it happen that KWWL used this line, and everybody else, as well?

DAN SCHILLINGER:  Yeah, I can’t speak for the other stations but, obviously, we all subscribe to various news services. We subscribe to the Associated Press, we subscribe to a service from NBC. This story was a CNN story and CNN sent out the copy with the, the joke, and we all copied and pasted it. And I think what’s happened over the last few years, as we keep asking producers and writers to do more and more work but we don't devote any more resources, so they’re forced to kind of find shortcuts, and one of the easiest shortcuts is I’m just gonna copy and paste this story that was sent to me and drop it into my newscast.

BOB GARFIELD:  Look, no animals were harmed in the making of that segment. No viewer was exactly misled. But you don't like “rip ‘n read,” why?

DAN SCHILLINGER:  I remember distinctly the first time they brought a computer into my newsroom and somebody showed me how easy it was to copy and paste an AP story and drop it into my newscast, and my immediate thought was, oh my God, I’ve just cut 50 percent of my work time. And then after doing it for a while, I realized, oh, this is a bad thing. [LAUGHS] Journalists are supposed to write, not copy and paste.

BOB GARFIELD:  Now, one of the reasons [LAUGHS] the Conan segments are so hilarious is that, given the same line to read, about half of the [LAUGHING] talent really does a horrible job of selling the joke. How did your anchor do in reading the “Yeah, Baby” line?

DAN SCHILLINGER:  I thought she did fine. She’s seen the movies, she gets the joke.

BOB GARFIELD:  What was her reaction, when she saw herself in the montage?

DAN SCHILLINGER:  You know, anybody in a local market like this is kind of delighted to see themselves in a national showcase. This is not the first time we’ve been in that particular showcase, by the way.

BOB GARFIELD:  A, a two-time winner.

DAN SCHILLINGER:  Yeah, exactly.

BOB GARFIELD:  Dan, thank you so much.

DAN SCHILLINGER:  You're welcome.

BOB GARFIELD:  Dan Schillinger is news director for KWWL, Waterloo, Iowa.

 [MUSIC/MUSIC UP & UNDER]

That’s it for this week’s show. On the Media was produced by Alex Goldman, PJ Vogt, Sarah Abdurrahman, Chris Neary and Laura Mayer. We had more help from Zac Spencer and Megan Teehan, and our show was edited – by Brooke. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson. Our engineers this week were Andrew Dunne and Ken Feldman.  

BROOKE GLADSTONE:  Katya Rogers is our Senior Producer. Jim Schachter is WNYC’s Vice President for News. Bassist composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. On the Media is produced by WNYC and distributed by NPR. I’m Brooke Gladstone.

BOB GARFIELD:  And I’m Bob Garfield.

Guests:

Dan Schillinger

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield