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NEWS, NEWS EVERYWHERE - BUT NEVER AT A TIME WHEN I CAN WATCH CONVENIENTLY

SHARE NEWS, NEWS EVERYWHERE - BUT NEVER AT A TIME WHEN I CAN WATCH CONVENIENTLY

I'm a news junkie. Which is probably why I've moved into journalism full time.

It has always seemed to me that to be truly informed, a person must read at least one local paper (preferably two), read one national paper (the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or USA Today, for instance), read one newsmagazine, (Time, Newsweek or U.S. News and World Report) and watch one network newscast and one local newscast.I realize that to some people that standard will seem ridiculous. But everyone ought to agree that they ought to read at least one newspaper and watch one newscast to be properly informed.

Since moving to Salt Lake City, I have found it very difficult to watch the news. That is because the combination of times for local and network newscasts is a phenomenon of confusion.

Let me illustrate. At 5 p.m. it is possible to watch the ABC network news on Channel 4 or the local news on Channel 2. At 5:30 it is possible to watch the CBS network news on Channel 5, the NBC network news on Channel 2 or the local news on Channel 4. At 6 p.m., it is possible to watch the local news on either Channel 5 or Channel 2.

Despite all these possibilities, it seems impossible to watch the news at all.

To sum up, this means that there is one network newscast and one local newscast at 5; two network newscasts and one local newscast at 5:30, and two local newscasts at 6. Now for the quiz!

Realistically, I would expect no one to memorize this odd schedule. Just make sure the Sunday TV Week listings are readily available! (In fact, paste them to the wall. And a wallet edition would be nice.)

There are a couple of things I am getting at here.

First, in the East I was accustomed to a predictable schedule that CAN be easily committed to memory. For instance, on all channels, local news is broadcast from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by network news from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Second, I was accustomed to watching any newscast at 6 p.m. or later, whereas in Salt Lake City, all the news broadcasts are over by 6:30.

So the question is, WHY do Salt Lake channels persist in scheduling the news so incredibly early? Does it suggest that Salt Lakers regularly arrive home from work early in the afternoon, then curl up on the couch to watch the news before fixing dinner? (Surely no one who ends work at 5 can watch the news - unless they take the bus to the service station to pick up a car, and because it is not yet ready, watch the news in the waiting room. I did that the other day.)

Or could it be that most people actually don't watch the news at all and therefore don't care when it is on? Maybe they just watch it at 10, in which case there is no need for any early news at all.

A couple of other observations. It seems ironic that the most popular "personalities" in TV news are invariably weather-casters and that there is tremendous publicity about hiring away from other stations the most appealing ones, especially in Utah, where weather is usually a non-issue. The weather is GREAT here! Why do we even NEED a weathercaster?

(I've noticed that Mark Eubank has been spirited away from Channel 2 to work for Channel 5, even though he must remain off the air for one year to effect the change. I also remember when Channel 5 "stole" Bob Welti away from Channel 4 because he was seen as the area's most popular weather-caster.)

Does the fact that Channel 5 has a history of stealing away news personalities from other local channels (Paul James, after all, was "stolen" many years ago along with Welti) suggest that the other channels inherently have the best people in the first place?

And why is it, in an age of equal rights, that Channel 5 can get away with two male anchors on its 6 o'clock newscast? (I have nothing against Bruce Lindsay or Dick Nourse, but wouldn't ANYONE rather see Shelley Thomas, Shelley Osterloh or Carole Mikita?) I may be in the minority, but I prefer a male-female anchor team, which is the prevailing style throughout the country.

One more thing. Why is it that Channel 2 seems to be showcasing its new anchor Bob Evans over the much more photogenic and effective Michelle King? It would seem that a male bias is highly evident in Salt Lake's TV market.

Finally, if we're going to talk about males, it seems to me that by far the most professional male newscaster in the city isn't always the highest-rated - Channel 4's experienced, self-assured Phil Riesen, who has a smooth delivery and an excellent voice.

Now I suppose you will say that I couldn't have said all this without watching the news. And I guess you're right. But I sure wish it were on later.