Ranting about CBS 2 News and television’s overuse of live reports

There are plenty of times when being live and on scene where news is happening or recently happened greatly enhances the ability to tell a story. The camera can capture visuals while the reporter gathers information by talking to news makers face-to-face (i.e. police, witnesses, etc.).

Then there are other times when being live on location does nothing to enhance the broadcast. Unfortunately, this happens more often than is necessary in television news, both locally and nationally. At some point in time, some research must have concluded that viewers are more interested in a story when live and on scene at a given location where news has happened or soon will.

A perfect example is right now on the WBBM-TV/CBS 2 morning news  broadcast, where reporter Susanna Song is reporting live in front of U.S. Cellular Field all morning to report on the anticipation of star Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez possibly playing in tonight’s game against the White Sox. Of course, the spotlight is on Rodriguez due to his impending suspension that is expected to be announced today due to his alleged use of PEDs.

There is nothing more ridiculous than a news reporter standing in front of an empty baseball stadium at 4:50 in the morning to report on a story when none of the potential news makers (i.e. Rodriguez, Yankee Manager Joe Girardi, teammates, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, etc.) are going to be on hand. The visual of a dark U.S. Cellular Field at 4:50 in the morning also doesn’t provide any valuable visuals that enhances the broadcast. Nor will it make much difference at 6:50 after the sun has risen.

There is no reason for Song to be in front of U.S. Cellular Field at this time. There’s no reason why the story even has to be live. I didn’t watch last night’s CBS 2 newscast, but I’m willing to bet that the assigned sports anchor had likely mentioned a thing or two about Rodriguez . Wouldn’t it have been more efficient for that anchor to have filed a one or two minute report in studio to be played during this morning’s newscast? Or, why not just keep Song in studio where she can deliver the same report as she did in front of the ballpark, or perhaps send her to report on a more newsworthy story while allowing one of the in-studio anchors to mention Rodriguez?

Many of these questions are rhetorical, of course.

Beyond the ridiculousness of Song being live at the ballpark, this story also is CBS 2’s top story at the start of this 5 a.m. broadcast (after first beginning with traffic and weather)! While our current news cycle involves a heightened alert for potential terrorist activity, abundance Chicago gun violence, and record setting attendance at this weekend’s Lollapalooza, CBS 2 thinks the most important story of the day is Rodriguez!?


A few other notes and observations from this morning’s newscast…

– Marissa Bailey and Roseanne Tellez are anchoring this morning’s newscast while Kris Gutierrez is absent. Though there was no mention of him at the start of the 5 a.m. broadcast, I assume Gutierrez is simply enjoying the day off (the CBS 2 staff did celebrate his birthday with him on Friday).

– Speaking of Bailey and Tellez, both have been rotating morning anchor duties since the station’s dismissal of Susan Carlson in May. Bailey has typically anchored Monday and Tuesdays (on top of her weekend morning anchoring duties) while Tellez has been anchoring Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. When exactly does CBS 2 plan on hiring a permanent replacement for Carlson?

While I think either Bailey or Tellez are fine choices, CBS 2 should pick one of them already to go all five days for the sake of consistency. Then again, CBS 2 may not want viewers to get use to one person in anticipation of eventually hiring an outsider.

– With Derrick Young off again today, meteorologist Megan Glaros is holding down the fort doing both weather and traffic.Was this a planned scheduling, or did someone forget to schedule a substitute? Somewhat of an odd occurrence considering CBS 2 had scheduled meteorologist Ed Curan to fill in on traffic last week.

– Young will be back on traffic for tomorrow’s broadcast.

– Speaking of Carlson, it amazes me at the amount of traffic her dismissal still brings to this website. Going on three months since her exit from CBS 2, the Google search queries for her have barely tapered since. After a few weeks off the grid, Carlson is keeping plenty busy as afternoon news anchor for the “Roe & Roeper” show on WLS-AM 890 and as a reporter for the WMAQ-TV/NBC 5 weekend news.

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