OK, so it’s cold here this week. Again, it’s Michigan; it happens. It dipped a bit below zero last night, just a few degrees, not terribly far. Uncomfortably cold, life-complicating cold, but nothing terribly dangerous to people with the sense to come in out of it when they can and dress properly when they can’t.
Of course I watched the local news last night, to see what they’d do with it. I wasn’t disappointed.
The stand-up began with the camera focused on a raw chicken, which the reporter had impaled on a stick of some sort. Get it? It’s so cold, the chicken is frozen! Then the guy held up a carafe of what he told us was hot tea. “Watch me throw it in the air,” he said. And he did. There was an impressive cloud of steam. He claimed it froze before it hit the ground, but of course it didn’t, Mr. Lying Liarpants. Then he cut to some time-lapse video showing what happened when they took a large thermometer from the warm studio to the street outside; why, it fell rapidly! Who could have foreseen this astonishing development?
Then he tipped over the chicken on the stick. The camera captured its landing. I don’t know what this was supposed to illustrate. Maybe the reporter thought it might shatter into a million pieces.
My TV friends say this is the latest consultant-driven trend in TV news — props. “If you’re going to report weather, you must have a prop,” they say. Hence the unequipped reporter who squats to pick up a handful of this mysterious substance we call snow, to show how you can pick it right up, and it’s cold on your hand! Hence the rulers in last week’s snowstorm. Hence the chicken.
It would all be amusing, if you didn’t consider that readers are abandoning newspapers by the truckload, preferring to get their local news from television. Yes, there’s a good chance your very own neighbor prefers weather reports with a chicken. I expect I’ll be handed a plucked foul en route to a weather story before the end of my career. Ask now, and I’ll save you the drumstick.