Live, Local, Meaningless

First posted here 10 years ago, but even more true today.


Nearly 50 years ago in Tucson NewMexiKen lived across the street from a small supermarket. At the rear of the store they parked a large, flatbed trailer with a wire cage on it. As they stocked the store’s shelves they’d toss the empty cardboard boxes into the cage. Once-in-awhile someone would come by, drop off a new trailer and haul the full one away.

One afternoon around three the boxes caught fire. It was a pretty spectacular bonfire for about five minutes and during that brief time a local news guy happened by (he must have had a scanner to hear the fire call). He took a few seconds of film. We laughed, but sure enough that night on the news there was film of cardboard boxes in flame. If I remember right, it was the lead story.

It wouldn’t happen that way anymore. Oh, TV news would still cover a cardboard box fire, but here’s what we’d see.

A news crew would show up, more than likely after the fire was out. They’d videotape a few seconds of fire engine lights flashing, a firehose leaking, and a soggy, charred mess of cardboard. They’d interview a guy in a tank top, who’d say it was the biggest box fire he’d ever seen.

Then, at 10PM, they wouldn’t just use the video like Channel 13 in Tucson did all those years ago. No, they’d send a reporter and van out to the now deserted store, hours after the fire. The reporter would stand in front of a now even soggier mess and introduce the seven hour old video.

Live, local, late breaking.

If you don’t believe me, I just saw a live shot of an empty trash container tipped over by flooding earlier today.