powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night local newscasts (Fri., Nov. 12)

CBS11's Jack Fink leads his station's Friday 10 p.m. newscast with a live report from a storm-damaged Greenville Braum's. Photo: Ed Bark

A Greenville Braum's ice cream store that had parts of its roof blown off by wind gusts became the center of the late night TV news universe Friday.

Fox4 opened its 9 p.m. newscast with overhead video of the damage while NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all had reporters stationed in the dark at the scene. No one was injured but pictures of jagged debris always make for a good picture story.

CBS11 got a little carried away, though, boasting that its man on the scene, Jack Fink, was the only reporter to talk to a man whose truck suffered a big dent when a sign blew onto it.

On NBC5, co-anchor Kevin Cokely ramped up the excitement with his declaration that "falling temperatures are the talk of North Texas tonight." One woman reported an eight degree drop in her truck temperature gauge after a cold front passed over. Imagine that.

All four stations also had prominent coverage of a man charged with child abandonment after he smashed his vehicle late Thursday night while allegedly driving drunk. He eventually fled, leaving his four children, one of them nine months old, to fend for themselves. Fox4 and WFAA8 both named the man and showed his picture. He's supposedly in the country illegally again after earlier being deported.

NBC5's comparatively brief report didn't name the fugitive, who's charged with child abandonment. CBS11 also withheld the man's identity, with reporter Jay Gormley telling viewers that "police are asking that we not release his name because they don't want him to skip town."

That's an odd rationale, and Fox4 and WFAA8 were right to ignore it if in fact they received the same request from police. Miguel Torres, who already had two previous warrants out for his arrest, doesn't seem like the type to spend a lot of time reading or watching TV news coverage. And it already had been almost 24 hours since he crashed his vehicle. At that point, the public had the right to know that a potentially very dangerous man is still out there. Naming him -- and showing what he looks like -- was the right thing to do.

Fox4 reporter Peter Daut even knocked on Torres' apartment door Friday night in a failed effort to find him. Neighbors said he regularly was drunk.

Fox4 later brought its newscast to a screeching halt with another of its extended in-studio interview segments. Some have worked very well, but this one definitely didn't.

Anchor Steve Eagar and ESPN radio's Kelly Webster talked at length about college football's lack of a playoff system in determining its national champion. The focus was on TCU, currently ranked third in the Bowl Championship Series as an "at large" contender for the national championship. In other words, the Mountain West Conference, in which TCU plays, is not deemed strong enough to have its champion automatically included in the post-season mix of BCS games. And so on.

Let's assume that this particular segment was of scant if any interest to a key newscast target audience, women of the ages 25-to-54. So even on a relatively slow news night, it made little sense to devote this much time to a segment that was spiced only by Webster informing Eagar near the start, "I want you to let me talk now." Eagar, seldom less than cocksure of himself, took it like a man and later appeared to be flirting a bit with Webster. Whatever the case, the segment bombed.

Fox4 also had a rather boring taped interview with re-elected Democratic congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who earlier had been embroiled in a student scholarship scandal. Johnson told reporter Shaun Rabb that she plans to write a book and "the entire story will be in it." Right. What else is new?

Worse yet, Rabb eventually told viewers to go to the station's website for "extended" un-aired excerpts of the interview, including what Johnson thinks of prominent Republicans Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Don't play us that way. Those comments should have been part of the Fox4 broadcast.


CBS11 reporters Arezow Doost and J.D. Miles both made interesting contributions Friday night.

Doost had a story on the lasting impact of a former high school football player's decision to get drunk with his buddies. A subsequent car wreck eight years ago, in which he was a passenger, left Kenny Bollier a quadriplegic. Massive medical expenses in the years since have left his family facing foreclosure on their home.

Miles reported on a home repair scam in which gypsy con artists prey on seniors. An 88-year-old woman paid more than $2,000 for shoddy work that left her home looking worse than before.

"I guess I'm just gullible," she told Miles. "I trust people too much."

***WFAA8 investigator Brett Shipp had an extended report on unmarked or poorly marked gas lines. This isn't a "sexy" news topic, but Shipp rightly has been dogging the Texas Railroad Commission on potentially lethal gas lines and gas couplings. In some cases, major action has been taken as the result of his reports. Both the station and Shipp should be commended for staying on the case.

***Finally, WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen wound up the week with a childish comment on his wife's birthday after comedy partner/weathercaster Pete Delkus reminded him of it.

Hansen cracked that his wife, Chris, had just turned 21. "Now she's legal and I don't have to lie to the bartenders anymore," he said to laughter all around.

Dale is Dale. And he's long made it clear that he'll say whatever he wants. But this was poor judgment on his part. Jokes about under-age drinking just don't cut it anymore.