I miss doing ghost stories. For two years at the station on the river, I went out looking for spooky, creepy stories to tell for Halloween. In 2003 and ’04 Halloween night either fell on the first night of the sweeps period or darn close. And ghost stories seemed to pull people to the sets through the cool promos.
Thinking about those tonight, my youngest said she didn’t remember them. Was she really only 4 then? Geez time flies.
We watched them tonight. The one about Mary, the ghost of the Orpheum Theatre, the ghosts of the Fontaine House, of the Lyric Theatre in Tupelo and of the other antebellum home in Canton, and then finally the ghost of Hank Williams at the Ryman.
It was during the last two when I remembered how one phone call to a tv station can throw a rat into a newscast. Somebody apparently called the gm and told him we should put a disclaimer on any video where we recreated a ghost sighting. Seriously.
So during the last two pieces, when we used a sepia tone filter and a fog machine and kids in civil war soldier costumes, we had, in the top left corner, the word “dramatization”.
Silly, I thought. I felt our viewers were smart enough to know we didn’t really have never-before seen footage of real ghosts looking right into our camera. I never felt someone might look at the story and say “OH MY GOD! THERE’S A GHOST!!! DANCING IN THAT BALLROOM, RIGHT THERE ON THE TV!”
But somebody upstairs thought they might. It was distracting to me and I hated that we appeared to think our viewers were too stupid to know the difference.
And I think a lot of tv stations assume viewers aren’t bright. News copy is sometimes dumbed down to speak at 6th grade reading levels. I think that’s one of the reasons many people have stopped watching local tv news. They don’t like to be talked to like children. Whether it’s from the weatherman, the reporter standing in the rain or snow saying “look how hard it’s raining/snowing”.
I don’t see much of that on Nashville tv.