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Baby, it's cold outside -- so let's all lead Monday's 10 p.m. D-FW newscasts with these urgent "breaking" developments


CBS11 anchors Kaley O’Kelley and Doug Dunbar came in from the cold after opening Monday’s 10 p.m. newscast in their winter coats. Photos: Ed Bark

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Once upon a time, “If It Bleeds It Leads” held the balance of power in many a local TV news room.

That seems so quaint now. Look, up in the sky. Whether anything is really happening or not, weather is the go-to top story almost everywhere you look.

On D-FW’s Monday 10 p.m. newscasts, a winter temperature dip led the parade for all four major TV news providers even though meteorologists told viewers to expect basically nothing in terms of sleet, ice, snow, etc. It was akin to leading the news with, “There were no major traffic accidents in our viewing area today, but we now take you live to a fender bender in Euless.”

Station consultants preach that weather is virtually the only remaining catnip in times when people already know the news of the day via means other than regularly scheduled newscasts. But with the weather you get colorful, state-of-the-art maps, cool video on some occasions and American Meteorological Society-approved seers seeing into the future. The weather affects virtually everyone. And it increasingly dominates the TV news landscapes while sports anchors increasingly risk being reduced to Misfit Toys.

The big buildups begin immediately. On CBS11, anchors Doug Dunbar and Kaley O’Kelley kicked off Monday’s 10 p.m. newscast by standing out in the cold next to a TV monitor. They had their winter coats on because, as Dunbar put it, “Hey, everybody, it’s a chilly night outside. And another dose of cold weather settling in for this night, as we’ve got temperatures that are dropping and dropping fast.”

Actually, they had already pretty much dropped. But the big hook here was a scant chance of snow “dustings” in West Texas and a handful of snow “flurries” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. CBS11 meteorologist Jeff Jamison, subbing for Larry Mowry and leading off the 10 p.m. newscast, told viewers there could be a “little bit of snow in the area.” But really, what were the chances? Jamison said there was a 95 percent probability of “seeing nothing at all.” Still, you’ve got to leave them wanting more. So a printed tease -- “A WARM-UP. THEN MORE SNOW?” -- was deployed for Jamison’s regularly scheduled, middle-of-the-newscast segment

Over on Fox4, anchor Clarice Tinsley began the 10 p.m. news by declaring, “Roller coast weather forces North Texans to bundle up against FREEZING temperatures. There may be relief soon, but for now . . .” Her voice then trailed off to meteorologist Dan Henry, who said up-top, “Let’s talk a little bit more about those flurries. The best chance of seeing those will be for areas west of Dallas and Fort Worth . . . They’re gonna have a hard time pushing eastward into the Dallas-Fort Worth area due to a lot of dry air that those flurries will be falling through.”

Later, in his regular weather segment, Henry reassured the populace that “if you’ve got a nice warm jacket I think you’re going to be OK first thing tomorrow morning.”


NBC5’s weather map basically promised a whole lot of nothing.

NBC5, whose news director, Susan Tully, admittedly is a maniac for weather, had her anchors doing the usual drill Monday night.

Brian Curtis and Meredith Land first teased stories about the “search for a serial robber,” an ATM deposit gone “horribly wrong” and “life or death surgery” at Baylor Medical Center, with “the miracle unfolding one Tweet at a time.”

Curtis then used two words embedded in his top-of-the-news vocabulary, “But first,” he said -- leaving no doubt where he was headed -- “freezing temperatures and snow.”

“You are looking live at Dallas tonight, where temperatures will be dipping below freezing,” Land added before the station was off and running to the “Weather Expert” desk.

Chief meteorologist Rick Mitchell kept a lid on expectations. “We may see a snow flake or two, but it is not going to be any big deal around here,” he said. No problems for the morning drive to work or school either, he added.

Mitchell repeated the same information during his regularly scheduled segment. And with nothing really going on, there was no urgent need for NBC5 to clear out additional space for him at the start of the news. But that’s like telling a dog he really doesn’t need that extra treat.

Gannett8 also fired up a few news teases at the top of Monday’s 10 p.m. edition before co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre stood next to weathercaster Pete Delkus and told viewers, “We begin in the Weather Center tonight. And Pete, a VERY cold night ahead.”

Delkus likewise told viewers not to expect much of anything. But yeah, it was going to be pretty cold, which amounts to B-R-R-R-eaking news in today’s local TV news climate.

There’s a weather controversy brewing, though, and this will bear close watching. All four weathercasters predicted gradual upticks in temperatures during the week, with a very nice, rain-less/snow-less Saturday looming. But Fox4’s Henry predicted a high of 68 on that day while NBC’s Mitchell went with 70, Gannett8’s Delkus settled on 71 and CBS11’s Jamison went all the way up to 73.

That’s a freaking 5-degree swing!!! How are we supposed to make plans under such circumstances? Who are we supposed to believe?

Believe this. Over-hyped top-of-the-news weather coverage is here to stay. Monday night’s festivities were all too typical before Tuesday dawned bright, clear and a bit nippy in D-FW. The fault usually is not in our stars -- or with our star meteorologists. But they’re happy to get the extra exposure while their news room bosses scheme and dream of new ways to make the weather an urgent breaking story.

AND IN OTHER NEWS -- Fox4’s Henry dutifully delivered his lead weather story Monday before throwing it back to anchor Tinsley for a report on the “American Sniper” trial. But she was nowhere near ready. Instead, viewers saw Tinsley audibly clomping past a camera and back to the anchor desk. She then got back to reading the TelePrompTer after a seeming eternity. And here I thought I’d seen everything in local TV news. Here’s a freeze-frame of how it looked:


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