Local news when it isn’t local [I’m probably over thinking this]

Maybe it’s just me, but anytime I watch the “local” news somewhere that isn’t Rochester, NY, it seems fake. It’s as if the stories are made up, the sets are cheap, and the anchors are actors. They prompt a reaction from me that’s along the lines of “oh, look at them, pretending to be real news, how cute.” It’s the same as when little kids dress up in their parents’ clothes. I don’t know why, but that’s the reaction I have. I’m reminded of every movie or television show I’ve seen that has a clip of whatever news show is a part of their plot. The real news programs I watch feel more like the fake ones in movies/TV than the news in Rochester.

It’s not even as if local news from city to city is that different. They’re all pretty much the same, with interchangeable names and places. I mean, is Sue Simmons really all that different from Janet Lomax?


[Am I imagining it, or are they both giving me sex eyes?]

Still, the local news here in NYC leaves me unsettled, like taking a shower with luke-warm water. That’s the feeling I get, sort-of familiar, but something’s off. Is it because the local news is so engrained with home that watching the news from somewhere that isn’t home is nothing but a useless attempt to recreate something familiar? Does it pertain only to news, or does any divergence from an environmental norm automatically feel like a cheap imitation? Do I subconsciously feel traitorous, watching another city’s news, so I default to discomfort/dislike? Is it because the news stories have no impact on me? I have no relation to anything they’re discussing. I can’t place the locations or names or events, everything goes over my head.

I think the first time I noticed this was on one of my trips to Philadelphia with my family a few years back. I remember sitting in the hotel, waiting to go out to dinner, and randomly watching the local news. I wasn’t actively thinking about the differences in news programs from city to city, but I definitely felt uncomfortable watching it. Like something was off or missing, like the regular news anchors are on vacation for the week and these people on TV are just temporary fill-ins.

That’s actually a good way to put it. Watching other local news programs, everything feels temporary. I’m gonna go ahead and attribute that to whatever area I’m in being my temporary location. More than anything else I watch on TV, the local news is dependent on my location. That’s fucking obvious, I know, but it has a lot to do with how I feel about the whole situation, I guess. My feeling of the news is a distillation of my feelings on being where I am – in limbo. I feel out-of-place, an intruder, an imposter, etc. when I’m away from home, so the local news I watch also feels like a wrong fit.

Maybe there’s some inadequacy being covered up in my dislike of the news programs. I can’t identify any of the things being discussed on the news, revealing that I am, in fact, a visitor and not a resident. I feel that when I’m walking around Manhattan sometimes, like people can tell I’m from upstate, a fish out of water. Which is idiotic I know, because half the time I’m walking around in the city, 80 percent of the people surrounding me are tourists, even less a part of the city than I am, from even further away. But for some reason I don’t connect myself with them. Because I don’t fit in with them, either. I’m more permanent than they are, I actually have a chance to watch the local news consecutive nights in a row, I have the chance to develop the routine of eating my turkey sandwich for dinner while I watch who crashed what car into what McDonalds in Brooklyn that afternoon. But I’m not a city resident either, I haven’t lived here for years, I can’t tell you about whatever the big news story was a year ago. I am not local –the local news is not for me.

Anyway, maybe I’ll get used to the local news here eventually. Probably just in time for me to go back home for the rest of summer. That seems to be a running theme of my stay so far.

What really pisses me off, though, is Jeopardy airing at 7:00 here and not 7:30. Jeopardy is my vice – fucking around with it does not leave me happy.

The usual:

Favorite thing I saw today in the city: The man paying for a $1 slice of pizza handing the register clerk a $100 bill. Hilarity/chaos ensued.

-Ben Cosman

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