This is what I'm thinking:
A nurse practitioner at a health clinic on Genesee Street turned media critic in a Buffalo News story Sunday about Buffalo's most dangerous neighborhood. "Everyone is not going to shoot you," said Takesha Leonard of the residents there. "But if all you watch is that television, I would never walk foot in here."
Television news does tend to scare people because it often focuses so much on crime stories. All media covers crime, but with television news it is the high percentage of its stories and the placement of them that adds to fears.
Crime stories are the easiest, basic news stories to cover. With the number of TV reporters each station limited, easy becomes more desirable from a staffing standpoint.
Between seven and eight people at each of the three local TV news departments are exclusively reporters without an anchor role. And that's to cover news seven days a week occurring in all of the counties of Western New York.
Sure, crime stories scare some people in so-called "dangerous" neighborhoods from venturing outside. But the stations are equal opportunity offenders. They report crime everywhere, not just the East Side.
I've written about that for years but Leonard prompted me to take another look last Monday and Tuesday.
Monday – the day after Leonard was quoted – I watched the first several minutes of the newscasts on Channels 2, 4 and 7. Crime stories were a high percentage of the news covered.
Channel 4 led with a fire, before reporting stories about a man accused of selling his niece into marriage in Yemen, a man accused of killing his wife in Olean and a man who was killed. Then, thankfully it was time for its first weather report.
Before weather time, Channel 2 led with a Hazmat situation in South Buffalo, before reporting about a babysitter sentenced for abusing a disabled child, human remains from a decade ago found in North Collins and a body found in a river in Niagara County.
Channel 7 led with the remains found in North Collins before going quickly to the weather. After that, it reported the Hazmat story, a Buffalo man accused of holding a woman against her will, Niagara Falls police investigating a home invasion, a woman accused of killing her boyfriend last summer and police investigating a shooting on the East Side.
By the time Channel 7 reporter Ali Touhey did a story about the possibility of recreational marijuana being allowed in New York State, I almost wondered if viewers should be allowed to use medical marijuana to relieve the stress from watching TV news.
It was a similar story on the stations Tuesday, with reports on an internal affairs Buffalo police probe involving the shooting of a drug scene in a film, a body found in the Scajaquada Creek, a deadly shooting in South Buffalo and a body pulled from Lake Ontario.
Channel 7 noticeably carries more stories. Channel 4 had fewer crime stories on Tuesday than its competitors but that hasn’t traditionally been the case.
After two nights, I certainly felt Leonard's pain. Heck, there was so much crime being reported, I had to take the rest of the week off from local TV news viewing.
WECK's new owner William Ostrander, who goes by the radio name Buddy Shula, had an answer when asked how he is going to pay all the old-timers – including John Zach, Jon Summers, Harv Moore and Danny Neaverth – that he has hired to work starting on July 10. "I'm going to pay them by selling more advertising," said Shula. Love the optimism.
Inquiring minds reading last week's column want to know: What were the Top 10 broadcast programs in household ratings and the age 25-54 and age 18-49 demos during the May sweeps? Here is the household list: "Big Bang Theory," "NCIS," "Chicago Med," "The Voice," "NCIS: New Orleans," "Chicago Fire" and "Bull," "Blue Bloods," "Scorpion," "Hawaii Five-0." Here is the 25-54 list: "Big Bang," "Modern Family," "Chicago Fire," "Chicago Med," "The Voice," "Chicago PD," "Survivor," "Dateline," "Criminal Minds," "Grey's Anatomy." Here is the 18-49 demos: "Chicago Fire," "Chicago Med," "The Voice," "Big Bang," "Modern Family" and "Chicago Justice," "Survivor," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Criminal Minds," "Superstore" and "The Middle."