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There’s no news in WCCO-TV’s ‘Goin’ to the Lake’ segments. So why does it often lead the news?

WCCO’s noon anchor Kim Johnson and forecaster Kylie Bearse visiting Richmond for River Lake Days, a medallion hunt and a yard sale.

Lord knows the late, venerated Dave Moore loved a good shtick. But you have to wonder what “The Old Man” of WCCO­-TV would think of the station’s commitment to its frothy, all­-but-­entirely ­news-­free​ “Goin’ to the Lake” segment​.

Even occasional viewers of the station’s newscasts, the early 5 and 6 p.m. shows in particular, have been struck not just by how often they’re treated to long (for TV) “reports” from on­-air personalities frolicking at some area resort or lakeside community, but how often what looks and sounds more like promotional barnstorming than reporting ​leads​ the newscast.

The bit has been running for several years now, with a winter interlude to remind/break the news to ’CCO’s audience that folks around here get outdoors in January, too. Now though the bit has a sponsor, Medica, the health insurance giant. What at first seemed just another fluffy lifestyle gimmick has clearly settled in as a signature element of ’CCO’s coverage.

How fluffy is it? A recent jaunt up I­-94 to the Richmond­/Cold Spring area was covered by noon anchor Kim Johnson and forecaster Kylie Bearse. What we learned in not one but ​two​ separate segments is this: The people of Richmond are friendly and welcoming. The weather was great. There are cute dogs to pet and good food to eat. Also, you can buy the craziest stuff at yard sales.

Celebrating what’s good about Minnesota

To his credit, in an era where other news directors are reluctant if not outright prohibited from speaking to the media, ’CCO’s newsroom boss, Mike Caputa, returned my call, knowing the topic and correctly assuming the slant wasn’t going to be exactly favorable.

The boilerplate explanation for the amount of editorial “acreage” being given to “Goin’ to the Lake” is as follows: “We’re trying to celebrate what’s good about Minnesota, about our communities. And we get so much positive feedback from viewers [for doing it]. The popularity has increased over the years.”

Right. In what amounts to a modest windfall of free advertising for small towns like Richmond or nearby Cold Spring, it’s a Chamber of Commerce dream come true. And, like the neighborly 12­-day marathon interaction at the State Fair, it’s a win for the station(s) as their on-­air talent reaffirms their celebrity status by squeezing a few delighted locals into the same camera (or selfie) shot.

There’s no news there

We get all that. Self­-promotion has always been a critical part of the local TV news game. But how is it “news” in any shape or form, if “news” is even a consideration?

Caputa, who has been in the boss’s chair for roughly five years, insists “Goin’ to the Lake” was his idea, although there are opinions within ’CCO that former GM Brien Kennedy’s aggressive push for more positive Return On Investment had a lot to do with Caputa’s thinking. (Kennedy was promoted up to KYW­-TV, CBS’ Philadelphia affiliate, which is now running its own version of cheery, celebratory recreational segments. CBS owns both stations.)

In case you’re wondering, Caputa says, “We pick up the whole tab,” for the trips to the lake. This in response to several cynics, including yours truly, who have openly speculated that towns and resorts had to be “comping” ’CCO’s news stars in exchange for coverage that is so flattering.

Traditionally, what old-school news cranks preach is that “news,” by definition, is something ​new​, something involving change of some sort, an accident, a death, a hiring, a firing, a change of attitude or policy by public or political leaders, a technical advancement or failure, even a win or loss by the home team. The cliché being, “A thousand planes landing safely is not news. One plane crashing is.”

A thousand Midwesterners splashing in the refreshing clear summer water, petting dogs or giggling over goofy yard sale tchotchkes would seem to be the equivalent of the former, the thousand planes going about their business exactly as everyone expects.

Service journalism taking over

What you sense in “Goin’ to the Lake” is the steady encroachment of what some call ​“Service Journalism” ​into the realm of actual journalism. “Service journalism,” a bedrock concept for city magazines and morning TV chat shows, is about enhancing consumerism. Where to shop and eat. What to buy. Like “Goin’ to the Lake,” such “reporting” invariably comes wrapped in a cheerful, upbeat tone, “The Best Of …” this or that. It is by conscious intent a stark contrast to news/journalism that makes people feel anxious or depressed. It’s a refuge from the worries of the world.

Also, the admonition to reporters that “You are not the story” is another standard from old-school cranks that has clearly been dismissed by “service” productions like, “Goin to the Lake,” where the reporters/anchors/personalities are absolutely essential to the intended effect of the piece. “We are here!” is an explicit component of the coverage.

“Listen,” says Caputa. “I hear complaints about it, sure. We get it from some viewers who say things like, ‘Dave Moore would never do something like this.’ But Dave did all sorts of different things, ​like ‘Bedtime NewZ’​ and … .”

But not within a newscast.

“No. But the complaints I hear most are from competitors. They know how popular this is. Is there a ‘shtick’ to it? I suppose. Is it news like politics and crime? No. But what we’re saying is that there are other stories to tell about life in our area. This is a way to tell those stories.”

Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 07/27/2015 - 08:47 am.

    As much as I like Jason deRusha…

    There is so much banter on the WCCO-TV morning news I usually turn to another station for the headlines. That said, the ratings suggest a lot of people like the chat-heavy format.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/27/2015 - 08:57 am.

    The value of the “local news” is pretty minimal.

    The daily hyper-local minutia of crashes, shootings, fires, etc provide little more than a voyeuristic glimpse into the tragedies of others. Little depth to any of the reports. Very little presentation of, or analysis of the bigger picture issues.

    Then there is the endless weather segments that tell you what is outside your widow, the several cycles through the next day or so incipient conditions, a couple of gee-whiz weather events and that is the middle segment. Not that you couldn’t get the info you wanted from the web in 15 seconds.

    And the sport(s) of the season occupies the remainder.

    The number of time when you can distinguish one set of commercial-bearing half-hour from the next is pretty small. And people like it that way–how else can you explain the endurance of Wheel of Fortune or 2-1/2 Men?

    So why not a trip to the lake?

    It might at least rouse someone into action—road trip!!

  3. Submitted by Rick Ryan on 07/27/2015 - 09:10 am.

    Goin to the lake

    This is really an extended commercial for whatever town/resort they are at. Does CCO get paid for the infomercial?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2015 - 09:12 am.

    The question kinda misses the point….

    There’s rarely any “news” at any point in a typical WCCO “news” broadcast so what difference does it make? They can’t even do a weather report without mucking it up with some crap about being on the spot or whatever.

    Local TV news broadcasts have become increasingly bereft of any news in the last few years, and CCO is the most bereft of them all. Whatever, apparently people don’t care because they keep tuning in. I’m just wondering when these local stations will finally stop pretending that these broadcasts are about news? They’re really just evening segments of the morning shows. Some consultant some day will come up with a new name for evening news broadcasts and be hailed as a TV genius, so remember you saw it here first.

  5. Submitted by Claude Ashe on 07/27/2015 - 09:15 am.

    Appeal to a certain demographic

    It’s a given that the demographic for the evening news is skewing older and older, I’d say that the program is giving the audience what it wants. I listen to my octogenarian mother comment on what she enjoys about the news and it tends to be the semi-frothy stuff. (She reads the paper for the more serious stuff.)

    Younger people are getting the news from other sources than WCCO.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 07/27/2015 - 04:54 pm.

      I haven’t watched local news for about twenty years

      I make exceptions only when it seems as if there might be a tornado or a major blizzard.

      But my parents and grandparents were faithful followers of ‘CCO news nearly all their lives . I think they remembered when TV news programs actually carried some news content and felt that it was their duty to be “well-informed.”

      My mother used to watch the increasingly trivial and sensationalist CNN all the time, but what cured her was the non-stop coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. She didn’t even know who he was–she made a point of avoiding pop music–and here his death was being treated as an event of cosmic significance.

      Me? I gave up while living in Portland. I noticed that the stations there reported on crimes, fires, “cute” stories about children or animals, weather (the way Portland reacts to the possibility of a few snowflakes is hysterically funny for any Midwesterner), and on Fridays, high school sports.Coming back to Minnesota for visits, I noticed the same trends on the Twin Cities stations.

      So if the sky looks greenish in the summer or the wind starts blowing fiercely from the west in the winter, I’ll turn on ‘CCO, Otherwise, I get my news from a variety of online newspapers.

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 07/27/2015 - 10:00 am.

    Marketing Outreach

    Seems to be a harmless marketing outreach to those viewer constituencies covered…and also a pleasant paid jaunt for the crew. Kinda nice, when I see it; although, I usually watch KSTP news to catch up on all the ambulance, police and fire calls…their traditional hook going back to the ’50s. Rather warped nostalgia, I admit.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/27/2015 - 01:19 pm.

      I don’t think it’s warped, Jim.

      Those situations tend to reflect what’s happening in our community and how it might affect us personally rather than a promotion piece.
      As someone else noted, these newscasts are skewing older, and if a live remote from a tavern up north, filled with cutesy pieces of anchors and weathermen in polo shirts racing go-karts is what they want to see, so be it. Like you, I’ll tune to KSTP or KSMP if I have a hankering for something other than fluff.

  7. Submitted by Ron Rosenbaum on 07/27/2015 - 10:17 am.

    Goin to the Lake

    Curious “what’s good about Minnesota” has to do with news. And while it’s true that Dave Moore (by a million miles the best anchor this town has ever known) did a lot of “things”, none of them took the place of real news. On a recent evening when news was breaking about the movie theater shooting in Lousiana, “CCO’s longest segments were on “Good Question” (dew point) and Goin to the Lake. Problem, of course, is that while these may be popular with viewers, they do nothing to help us understand ongoing important events. Which, I’ve been foolish enough to believe, is the job of a news organization.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2015 - 10:30 am.

      Yeah…

      It would be refreshing if these “news” directors would just be honest and just admit that “news” isn’t the subject of the broadcast anymore. I don’t care what they broadcast, it’s their station, I just wish they’d end the pretense of broadcasting “news”.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/27/2015 - 12:11 pm.

      Your mistake

      What makes you think that even the barest majority of the viewership is interested in “understanding” the issue of concern. Or that they accept that explanation from the anchor of a local news show. For the most part they’ve heard from other sources the same topic, almost immediately upon its happening, and have formulated firm opinions long before the evening news begins. Such is the age in which we live. For the broadcaster the choice is alienating the portion of the viewing audience who disagrees with your take, boring the portion that agrees, or staying away from it all with feel good fluff. Fluff wins every time, unfortunate though it might be.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/28/2015 - 08:50 am.

        Actually

        The “viewers” are not my concern, people can view whatever they want (as long as it legal), and broadcasters can meet that demand as they see fit. I just want them to be honest about what they’re broadcasting. If you want to “view” this crap go ahead, but let’s stop pretending it’s news.

  8. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 07/27/2015 - 11:00 am.

    One of the main reasons local TV stations like WCCO put on so much non-news “news” broadcast segments is that doing such ostensible “news” is so much cheaper than actually having reporters who follow stories that matter, locally. You really don’t have to pay “fluff” newscasters as much.

    And, we’re talking chickens-and-eggs here: Does the polled demographic demand the pap that’s fed them, or does what’s fed them determine what that demographic think it wants from the “news”?

    This news emptiness is a major part of what ails our American democracy today.

  9. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 07/27/2015 - 11:50 am.

    Local news

    Other than crime, fires, auto accidents, local news now is centered on the Vikings stadium, Vikings training camp, and anything related to the Vikings. When local news stations have Adrian Peterson reporting to training camp in Mankato as the lead story, it is laughable.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/27/2015 - 01:22 pm.

      NFL Sells

      One thing that jumped out at me during the legislative hearings on the Viking’s stadium was something Vikings vice pres (I think), Lester Bagley, said about how much people in Minnesota love watching the games:

      “When Vikings games are televised, 63% of Minnesota television sets are tuned in.”

      He may have been stretching it, but that’s an amazing number of “eyeballs,” and would be something to think about if you were someone with a product or message you wanted to make a fair number of Minnesotans aware of. (And, of course, likely related to why anything having to do with the Vikings makes it onto the air as “news.”)

      Note to the folks at http://www.miningtruth.org (and other “opposition” organizations): Maybe something to think about: Vikings fans probably wouldn’t be hot about the prospect of sulphuric acid making its way into their beverages or walleyes either.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/27/2015 - 03:09 pm.

      Not Just the Vikings

      There is also lots of weather (on WCCO, it’s “Will it rain on little Sophia’s 1st birthday party Saturday?”), product promotion disguised as consumer news, and “inspiring” yet condescending stories of someone who has overcome obstacles in their life. Sunday evening, there might be some coverage of a hack politician announcing legislation to solve some “vital” problem, to be introduced (maybe) six months from now.

      So there is some variety.

  10. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 07/27/2015 - 11:56 am.

    Unfortunately MPR has drifted into these weeds too

    MPR’s assertion of “no commercials” ended several years ago. More and more of their programming includes Service Journalism such as Kerry Miller’s book and event promotions. Programming promotions have become not only pervasive but incessant, e.g., “bus stop solutions”, “Minnesota’s sounds and voices starting at 3.”, support for this programming comes from…. These promotions are often followed by, “these promotions and more can be accessed at MPR’s…. The question might be asked, “Does this corporate speak and self-promotion compromise public radio’s journalism?” Does the FCC impose limitations on PBS stations? If do, how do these obvious commercials continue?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/27/2015 - 05:44 pm.

      For a while there . . .

      For a while there, I was starting to believe the “M” in “MPR” stood for “Miller”!

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/28/2015 - 02:21 pm.

        “Don’t get me started!” (Oh oh… Too late)

        Among other things, the people at MinnPost are exceptionally good at covering as much as they can of what they view as important things happening in Minnesota.

        While the “straight news” department at MPR does a good, though time-constrained, job of that (top of the hour, All Things Considerered, Morning Edition), and their (and Madeleine Baran’s in particular) coverage of the St. Paul Archdiocese ought to be viewed as exemplary, the people at MPR (the “content decision makers”?) are NOT good at utilizing the rest of their considerable Air Time covering important things happening in Minnesota.

        While there are seven hours available between Morning Edition and All Things Condisdered, to me, the best, most natural hours for getting that done would be the nine-to-noon hours Ms. Miller has filled at least two of for the past three or so years, and, I assume, made substantial content decisions about.

        While I don’t have anything against her – she’s obviously intelligent, curious, hard-working, energetic, and has a pretty good sense of humor – I HAVE gotten the impression she’s much more interested in national issues and topics she finds more “grand,” stimulating and important than the type of “local” things MinnPost focusses on day-in and day-out.

        I get the feeling she’s pretty much bored stiff by whatever may or may not be happening in the MN legislature, even when things like billion dollar cuts to Health and Human Services, MinnesotaCare and MNSure are on the line, the MPCA Citizens’ Board is being vaporized, copper-nickel mining pollution exemptions are being handed out in ugly late night backroom deals, and near-stabbings are taking place just down the hall.

        Oddly enough, with all that kind of stuff going on (in the heart of Minnesota politics), it seems she’d much rather get somebody from Timbuktu on the line to go “in-depth” about the best way to write a novel.

        She’s interested as can be in climate change, and does many a segment on it, but never seems able to get Pat Garofalo to travel a few miles to the studio and onto the air with her (and, say, DFL Rep Erik Simonson from Duluth) to discuss the alternative energy trashing and pollution expansion provisions in his (ALEC sponsored?) omnibus “Jobs and Affordable Energy” bill.

        Or, speaking of those proposed HHS cuts, how ’bout Matt Dean and Tony Laurey?

        Or why not invite Tom Bakk and Mark Dayton on to go over a couple of their differences?

        Or maybe the people from Polymet and the Commissioners of the DNR and MPCA would be interested in joining her for a conversation or two in her week-long series about “The Future of Copper Mining in Minnesota” along with a few Minnesotans like Becky Rom, Steve Timmer, John Grappa, Paula Maccabee, someone from miningtruth.org, and other folks who know the terrain.

        Maybe someone from the Legacy Fund could come in for one of those hours and explain what it was Minnesotans had in mind when they voted to tax themselves to make sure Minnesota’s waters stayed pure as possible, and how they (and a few callers) think a leaky Hoyt Lakes area sulfuric tailings pond or two might impact that objective over the next million or so years.

        But again, it seems Kerri (and “the editorial/content board”) doesn’t think those kind of issues are important enough, or of enough interest to Minnesotans, to invest any appreciable amount Air Time examining or discussing. Apparently, it’s more interesting and important to hear from novel authors, or what may or may not be the situation in early struggles for the Republican presidential nomination, or how many neurons our brains might actually contain.

        Don’t get me wrong… I like a good book, and I’ve got nothing against many of the interesting topics and people Kerri Miller (and the MPR content decisions makers) bring up. But there IS a huge lack of the kind of Minnesota coverage MinnPost is so good at providing.

        One of the main things MinnPost’s example shows me is that it CAN be done, done well, and that people appreciate it. The “parts” of Minnesota Public Radio that aren’t doing that kind of thing would be doing their listeners a great service by trying to figure out how MinnPost does it, do what it can to “emulate” (or, better yet, compliment) that, and start using its (relatively) formidable communications power to let as many Minnesotans as possible know a lot more about “what’s goin’ on” in their state.

        This would be a good place to start: https://www.minnpost.com/about

        And then, of course, there’s always the phone and things like “lunch” (at one of the Twin Cities or Stillwater’s or Duluth’s or Rochester’s fine new eateries MPR is pretty good at highlighting). I don’t think there are any (collusion or anti-trust?) laws against non-profit news organizations getting together to discuss best (and possibly complimentary?) practices.

        Free non-marketing “drive” tip: Imagine the “Four-fer!” possibilities of a Minnesota State Parks Season Pass, a free Guided Tour of the proposed Non-ferrous Ore Processing Plant and Tailings Ponds near Hoyt Lakes with Ron Meador and/or Steve Timmer (and others if demand makes additional tours advisable), an MPR membership (card?), AND a MinnPost membership for $4.00 per month “TODAY ONLY! So call or click now!”

  11. Submitted by John Edwards on 07/27/2015 - 12:15 pm.

    Dave Moore enjoyably was not a journalist

    Dave Moore was not a journalist. His background was acting. He made no pretense of being a “journalist,” otherwise he would not have done his hilarious Bedtime Nooz. I remember watching him moderate a Sunday evening prime time public affairs show where it became obvious that he did not know the difference between equal pay and comparable worth. It did not bother me. Moore was a humorous, entertaining news reader who I enjoyed watching. He was not an authoritative source of news. No anchor is. For example, Don Shelby, another WCCO anchor, was a solid liberal as was Walter Cronkite, a philosophy he admitted in Douglas Brinkley’s 2012 biography. Bret Baier of Fox reads news written from a conservative perspective. TV viewers should realize they always are getting someone’s VERSION of the news.

  12. Submitted by jason myron on 07/27/2015 - 12:41 pm.

    I’m still reeling

    from the time a few months back when WCCO led it’s 10:00PM newscast with the devastating news of a local youth hockey club that was sent the wrong size jersey’s from the manufacturer. That was the first time in my 50+ years that I actually complained to a program director. I couldn’t believe it.

  13. Submitted by Bill Willy on 07/27/2015 - 12:59 pm.

    Would you repeat the broken record part, please?

    “… what old-school news cranks preach is that ‘news,’ by definition, is something new…”

    The thing that’s been impossible to not notice over the past three-quarters of a lifetime is the way ALL news sources repeat the same story over and over and over with, maybe, a slight variation or “new detail” twist.

    Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, her affair with Ben Gahzee and the latest congressional investigation.

    Don T’s lip.

    The leader of Israel warning the world (for 25 years) of the imminent attack on his country by an evil neighbor that will have a nuclear weapon within six months to a year if the United States does not bomb them immediately.

    The planes blasting into the twin towers.

    George Bush, Dick, Don and Paul marching off to war.

    Watergate.

    Ken Star.

    Monica Lewinski (and her new line of purses).

    What the meanings of is is.

    David Hann, Pat Garofalo, Steve Draskowski and Kurt Daubt explaining reality and what all hard working Minnesotans think and want.

    Name or think of the story and chances are everyone’s seen or heard it countless times on any news source anyone can think of, local, national, international.

    To me, it’s kind of like Comedy Central running nothing but re-runs. I keep thinking, “There MUST be more than these few things going on in the world.”

    So there’s that. But the thing that REALLY makes me yawn and bark at the same time is the compulsive need, or unwritten rule, all news outlets have that says, “The news consumer MUST be provided with the background information (the “back-story”) related to whatever they are about to be informed of” (for the 15th time since yesterday):

    “While speaking at the American Libertine Conference at Bosemat Clown College in July, Donald Trump referred to the autographed picture of Walter Winchell George Petaki has on his office wall as, ‘Nothing more than a two-dimensional Pinocchio doll under glass that no intelligent person would keep around.’ Not to be outdone by himself, today Mr. Trump said…”

    Or, more commonly:

    “While serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton kept her emails on a private server in her home,” and then the breaking related twist on whatever whoever is calling for the next congressional inquiry into the matter had to say about it (and Benghazi and the repeal of Obamacare).

    I call the first part of the dilemma (every news source covering the same story, and doing so for as long as possible) the “milking machine,” and the obligatory back-story repetition the, “In case you’ve been under a rock or just came out of a coma,” factor.

    “I KNOW she had a personal server at home. You told me that already. Many many times. Please stop telling she had a personal server at home that Republicans want to take possession of!”

    On the other hand, when it comes to this particular news outlet, I tune in for the generally excellent (to me, anyway) “journalistic coverage” of often germane and interesting “local” (Minnesota) info, to see what its commenters have to say, and, like today, to actually get a piece of honest to goodness news (to me):

    I can honestly report that this morning was the first time in my entire life that I have seen how the word “tchotchkes” is spelled.

    Thanks, Brian. Keep up the good work!

    And by the way, if you think WCCO’s, and other “metro” outlet’s, coverage is a little vapid, check the local news next time you’re near an outstate TV. God bless ’em (and their meager budgets, I’m sure), but, besides the excellent and semi-miraculous weather forecasts, and occasional relevant and important local story, I learn more about “what’s goin’ on” in half a Brianna Bierschbach or Ron Meador article (or Glean roundup, of course), than I would from staring at the local news for ten years.

  14. Submitted by Rodgers Adams on 07/27/2015 - 02:12 pm.

    New “news”

    There was a time when the best TV stations reported on significant court decisions and government policy issues by taking time to provide some context. At the same time, newspapers were often trying to compete by having as many short, snappy news stories as possible.

    Times change, of course, as well as shifting advertising budgets and the arrival of 24-hour cable news channels. (Not everything changed, of course. TV news has always had trouble resisting stories with strong visuals, and newspapers continue to invest in substantive investigative reporting.)

    But it seems to me that evening TV news has embraced entertainment as its primary role. It has been painful to watch WCCO, a flagship of high-quality TV news reporting (not just Dave Moore but the writers and producers providing him weighty stuff to read, and a vigorous investigative reporting team), to watch WCCO’s newscast devote more and more time to promoting what comes later in the show, chit-chat among the on-air personalities, preoccupation with easily-covered fire, police, and weather bits, and a spreading diet of news-void segments. To me, this was the low road taken by a journalistic outlet.

    On the other hand, the Star Tribune, also faced with economic changes, responded by trying to preserve a strong reporting staff, providing rich context for many of its stories, and giving Page One treatment to an eclectic mix of real news about less-obvious topics. Journalism for a mass audience must be sensitive to popular tastes and interests, but it seems to me that WCCO is the prime example of a news organization that doesn’t trust its audience and the Star Tribune is a prime example of a news organization that respects its audience.

    Full disclosure: I worked in the Star Tribune newsroom for many years, but I retired more than 15 years ago and have been watching these changes only as an interested spectator.

  15. Submitted by Tom Johnson on 07/27/2015 - 03:04 pm.

    Calling the kettle black, also who cares?

    MinnPost publishes “The Stroll” and for a few months in the summer WCCO runs “Goin’ to the Lake.”

    This critique of WCCO is petty and small. I’d call it “not news” if I didn’t hate it when people say righteous stuff like that.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/27/2015 - 06:01 pm.

      There’s a difference

      I have as much time as I like (or as is available to me) to read through ALL the available content on MinnPost. “The Stroll” – percentage wise – represents a pretty small part of the overall total available content. It’s there if I’m interested, or I can choose to ignore it and move on to all the other content which is available.

      WCCO has a set time slot for their news program. If I sit down to watch their program, I’m limited to what they choose to show me. When they’ve used up all the available minutes in that time slot, that’s all there is, no matter how much longer I may sit in front of my set waiting. By filling a large portion of those limited available minutes with fluff, they’ve done a disservice to the term “news program” and have probably wasted my time if “news” was what I sat down to see.

      There IS a difference.

  16. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/27/2015 - 06:08 pm.

    It’s all about the ratings

    I moved here 6+ years ago from Denver. The ratings leader in Denver is KUSA, an NBC franchise, that operates in much the same fashion as WCCO. I had pretty much stopped watching local news in Colorado before I moved to Minneapolis, and within a year of arriving here, I stopped watching WCCO, as well. I do think TV weather forecasts are often as good, if not better than, what you find online from the National Weather Service, so I usually tune in for the weather at about mid-broadcast, but usually not to WCCO. Even in that arena, I more and more go to other online weather sources rather than TV channels.

    Local TV news is pablum precisely *because* the people with the title of “news director” are obsessed with ratings. They have to be. Ratings determine advertising rates, and despite the lofty rhetoric of television’s founders in the late 1940s, TV has succumbed to the same dumbing down and crass commercialization that plagues every other media type. I’ve seen little evidence that the public in general is demanding more substantive news broadcasts, with “real” news replacing “Goin’ To The Lake,” or “Playing Golf with Someone Famous,” or whatever other ratings gimmick seems to be working in a given metro area.

    I’ll stick with Karen Sandness and Connie Sullivan on this one.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/27/2015 - 11:29 pm.

    But it’s always refreshing…

    When the “reporters” stand around in the dark hours after everyone’s left and play a recording of a neighbor who doesn’t actually know anything but never thought anything like this would happen “here”. That always makes me feel “connected” to my community.

  18. Submitted by steve conroy on 07/28/2015 - 08:02 am.

    What happened to the real news?

    The national news is the same way, you don’t really hear what’s going on. It’s the same thing being beat to death, some cute segment (what’s going viral on you tube) celebrity news or tons of drug commercials.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/28/2015 - 08:53 am.

      And sports… my god the sports

      If I see another coach of some kind or athlete giving a “press” conference wherein they say absolutely NOTHING of any substance (because beyond the game there’s really nothing to say) I think I’ll just scream!

      • Submitted by jason myron on 07/30/2015 - 03:01 pm.

        Be thankful that you don’t live in Wisconsin, Paul.

        I just came back from a trip there to see my folks and it’s all Packers, all the time. They lead the newscast off with training camp news…I kid you not.

  19. Submitted by Thomas Egan on 07/28/2015 - 10:44 am.

    First Lake Week Changed Definition of News

    The lack of news judgement at WCCO was solidified in the first year of the lake series when the station’s top meteorologist, lead news anchor and photojournalists left the Grand Marais area and moved to the next lake assignment in Detroit Lakes ( http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/06/18/goin-to-the-lake-frank-chris-visit-grand-marais/ ) ahead of the storm of century which inundated the North Shore and Duluth ( http://www.mprnews.org/story/2012/06/20/weather/duluth-flooding ) with torrential rains, washing out roads and bridges. They could have owned the storm story, but chose fluff. Great call.

  20. Submitted by Howard Miller on 07/28/2015 - 11:21 am.

    Going to the lakes …

    Don’t mind cheery fluff news stories that promote local businesses. For me, it helps keep a perspective on depressing stories about, say, 5 US military personnel being gunned down in Tennessee, or Republicans suppressing voting rights, or another citizen dying in police custody

    The only downside is, it may crowd out actual news that people should know about. We already display more and more “confirmation bias” in what news sources we attend to …. preferring sources that confirm our biases and slants on events of the day …. and the fluff pieces do take air time from actual news stories, so there’s less “inventory” of informative news offered on “news shows”.

    Perhaps the fluff pieces ought have the after-news slot,or before-news slot in broadcast time, rather than being mixed in with real news, making a mockery of news gathering and reporting in the name of happy talk on tv.

  21. Submitted by James Delaney on 07/28/2015 - 03:09 pm.

    More commercials and too much fluff

    I can’t watch CCO’s half hour ‘news’ shows. More time is sold for commercials than ever – Poor Mark Rosen is limited to about 2 minutes of sports these days. Too often Mark is shown on camera with a 10 second teaser then the station breaks for 3 minutes of commercials leaving only 2 minutes for Mark to do his thing …really why bother with sports at all?
    The weather dude that constantly embarrasses himself with music references and birthday news needs to go now.
    The fluff and constant ‘we are number one’ spin is so tiring.
    They lost me months ago.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/28/2015 - 03:42 pm.

      That Makes Two of Us

      I couldn’t agree with you more, but viewers must like this sort of tripe. Since the whole production is driven by ratings, this fluffernutter of a format would have been discarded long ago if people really didn’t like it.

      Personally, I find the implicit assumption that I would find this kind of thing informative and/or entertaining to be insulting.

  22. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 07/28/2015 - 11:30 pm.

    The “lake” changed my channel

    I was a WCCO-CBS viewer for decades. I was a bit acquainted with some of the WCCO reporters (I worked in the newspaper business) and had great respect for most of them and for Mike Sullivan, long-ago head of the investigative unit, into which WCCO put a lot of resources.

    Going to the Lake, or whatever it’s called, abruptly ended my already wavering loyalty. Others already have expressed the contempt I have for wasting that time in a supposed newscast. (I don’t even know how economically effective it is; do Twin Cities advertisers care about reaching viewers in Brainerd or Ely?) While I like the on-screen personalities of some of the folks at KARE, it, too, is brazenly self-promotional.

    I now tend to watch KSTP where there’s little nonsense, little self-promotion and actual news — which, to the Hubbard family’s credit, runs for an hour between 6 and 7 p.m.

    BTW, Bill Willy, MPR just laid off nine newsroom people. No matter what kind of good face MPR puts on it, that has to mean less local news coverage. News is a labor-intensive business.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/30/2015 - 12:41 pm.

      The Lake, and “on the spot”

      I’ve all but given up on trying to watch CCO weather coverage,unless I just happen to come across the actually weather segment while I’m flipping channels. EVERY day is a birthday for millions of people on this planet, and rain is rain whether it’s on a birthday or funeral. The second they say they’re going “on the spot”… flip.

  23. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 07/30/2015 - 11:00 am.

    Bring back Bedtime NewZ !!

    That is, IF they can do it….

  24. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 07/30/2015 - 11:21 pm.

    Also about KSTP

    After my decades of watching (mostly) WCCO, I am somewhat surprised to be praising KSTP, but I neglected to mention something else noteworthy: Their news “anchors” sit behind a desk in front of a plain background. No fancy set, no talking from a couch, no rooftop or “back yard” weather forecast. Visually a little boring? Yeah, but if I’m watching, it’s for news, and what the plain packaging suggests is that the station’s news money goes into content, not wrapping.

    (But I do miss Pat Kessler.)

  25. Submitted by Tom Simpson on 07/31/2015 - 09:52 pm.

    Goin’ to the Lake is an embarrassment

    When the GTTL segment is announced, I immediately switch to 5 or 11. I guess that people keep watching because of WCCO’s (fading) reputation for serious news. I’m looking for a new go-to news station.

  26. Submitted by Susan Fuller on 08/27/2015 - 10:25 pm.

    Personnel Change at WCCO

    I, too, am ready to give up on CCO morning “news”. I think DeRusha and Brickman are very bright and quite competent – even delivering the fluff-heavy news and weather. But I cannot for the life of me figure out how Kim Johnson made it to the main desk. I cannot abide the Minnesota valley girl voice and mispronunciations and the obvious discomfort that DeRusha exhibits since Yuccas left. I will switch after I am bored with being shocked that Johnson got Yuccas’ job.

  27. Submitted by Carrie Preston on 08/29/2015 - 05:00 pm.

    Harmless but….

    It’s harmless but harmless isn’t the news. I find these trips (for WCCO radio and TV) to be a total distraction. What’s the point? If I want to visit Cold Spring then I will take a road trip. I don’t need to see hosts licking ice cream cones and competing in derby races.

  28. Submitted by Thomas Byrne on 09/17/2015 - 06:16 pm.

    Hockey jerseys

    I wish I could be paid tens of millions of dollars for reading a teleprompter and going to the lake. They spend a large chunk of the “news” TWO nights in a row on the shipping of the wrong size hockey jerseys. This is not news. This is Stars on Ice. It is galling. It’s Entertainment Tonight pretending to be news. I have NO respect for these anchors or anyone associated with this crap.

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