THE TV station's environmental reporter is interviewing an animal-rescue activist. They are discussing the harm pet cats do to wildlife. Cats, it seems, like to hunt birds and cute, furry rodents. We must control these killer kitties, says the animal rescue person, while the TV reporter nods gravely.
Get real, TV people! Most of us learned about carnivorous animals in elementary school. We expect them to kill for food. This is not news unless you are the stupidest person in America.
On the same show, police arrest a young man for murder. Police officers speak haltingly into microphones.
They say the young man has (allegedly) killed someone outside a Chinese carryout. We are not told the restaurant's address. No motive for the (alleged) killing is mentioned.
The (alleged) killer's (alleged) girlfriend has been missing since last week, but the girlfriend's mom believes the (alleged) killer, who claims he had nothing to do with the (alleged) girlfriend's disappearance.
But the girl didn't run away, says Mom, because she sings in a church choir. So if you see her, please call the cops. Cut to a commercial. Buy a Ford this weekend. Save $2,000 or more. Cash back.
In another story, crack babies are kept alive by a fiercely photogenic female doctor. A picture of a sick, premature baby, crying in an incubator, gives way -- without warning -- to a group of happy, attractive people on the deck of a cruise ship.
I think the happy people are part of an advertisement.
Or maybe all the people on the ship are really TV reporters. That's how good they look.
This is a cheap shot. I apologize. I know TV newscasters are chosen purely for reporting skill, not for their looks or their ability to come across as warm, friendly people through the camera's eye. (Or so I hear, even though TV reporters always seem to look nicer than the rest of us.)
But I shouldn't knock TV news shows and the people who make them. If I hadn't watched this particular broadcast, I wouldn't have learned about new Spam Lite, which has 25 percent less sodium than regular Spam and contains 10 percent chicken, in addition to whatever else goes into Spam, a subject the warm and friendly TV newspeople didn't get into while I was watching.
From Spam, let's go to sports, with a blandly blond guy who was chosen purely for his reporting ability and not for his looks, even though he's so cute he'd get mobbed if he set foot in a gay bar.
Here's the latest: A major-league manager kicked over a water cooler after he was ejected from a game, somewhere in New York. The Yankees, Tigers, and Blue Jays are winning some games and losing others.
And how about them O's? Whaddaya think? Will Ripken sign for less than $3 billion? Now let's move on to weather, with a cheerful meteorologist who has a really skinny neck.
The weather is pretty much as I remember it from the last TV news broadcast I watched, about two years ago: It is raining somewhere, but it will stop sooner or later, and places that are dry now will get rain in the future. Meanwhile, the temperature will go up and down, so drive carefully!
At least the weather guy has a regular haircut that doesn't look as though he puffed it up before they turned on the cameras. I can't say the same for the other men on this show -- or the women, either.
But I'm not complaining. I like watching warm, happy, friendly people on TV, and I learned a lot from watching this fine exercise in broadcast journalism, especially the Spam commercial, which I should have videotaped in case I wanted to see it again.
I should watch TV news more often. From now on I'll try to take in a local TV news broadcast at least every five or six months, just so I don't lose touch with America.
Maybe next time they'll show a soft drink commercial. I haven't seen one for a while, and I hear they're a lot better than they used to be.
Robin Miller drives a cab in Baltimore.