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#317. Local News

Even with the proliferation of different news sites across the internet, when it comes to the news of a local area, there are only a few options to keep yourself up-to-date. There are still websites for local news, but either the newspaper or the local television network usually runs them. Because there are limited sources for local news, any competition for readers and viewers can be fierce. The competition does not just exist between different sources; it can be between individuals trying to advance their careers in the local news racket. Some are content with becoming the best in their region, but others are looking for that larger gig on the national scale. Some people just want to deliver the news, but many are committed to getting ahead. This week’s two films highlight individuals involved with local television news.

Year: 2014
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

When it comes to television news, the images are key. Most of the time, a local station will have some cameramen who will go out and help a reporter perform their report. However, there are often situations where a local camera crew cannot get to a scene in time to record it or the reactions of the public on the scene. In these cases, freelance video journalists can make some money selling the footage to local news stations for being in the right place at the right time. From storm chases to car crashes, these individuals will put themselves in or near dangerous situations to get the best footage. Consequently, the perception of these individuals is usually linked to profiting off the suffering of others. Their desire to get paid will often force them to decide which lines to cross and how far to go to obtain the best video.

When Louis “Lou” Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) learns about “stringers,” he immediately becomes enticed with the prospect of being a freelance video-journalist. In one of his first successful collects, he manages to tie in a human element to his footage, despite trespassing to get it. His tactic works, and he starts making repeated, successful sales of his footage to a local news station for exclusive rights. Unfortunately, he now has run afoul of the man who introduced him to this career, Joe Loder (Bill Paxton). The competition is fierce, but Lou’s loose morals eventually give him the edge he needs to dominate over Joe. In a stroke of luck, Lou runs across a homicide and robbery in progress and decides it is a prime opportunity to catch video of the immediate aftermath of a crime, as well as the eventual capture of the criminals. This decision proves to be the most dangerous one he’s made yet.

Broadcast NewsBroadcast News
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Length: 133 minutes / 2.22 hours

How “local” does local news have to be? Is it for a single city? A whole state? An entire nation? When we consider “national” news, it rarely involves events that affect us personally. Most national news usually has to do with what the government is doing and how it might trickle down into the local markets. So, one would then assume that any news about the government in Washington D.C. would be considered “local” to those who live and work there. As the hub for the nation’s decision-makers, Washington D.C. needs to have local news that helps to keep these representatives accountable. The Washington Post is usually the best source of governmental accountability available to the public. Could the local television news stations provide a similar service? Do the major networks have the monopoly on this information? Can these local stations provide an invaluable service?

Moving from local to national news is a big deal, especially when you work in Washington D.C. Tom Grunick (William Hurt) has just moved up into an anchor position at the local news station after years as a sports anchor. He knows he’s not quite qualified for the job, other than having the “looks” for it. While he has an attraction to the producer, Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), he shares that trait with her best friend, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks). Aaron is a great writer but lacks the skills to be an on-camera reporter, despite his desire to do so. Through this love triangle, all three of them have their successes and failures in the news industry. Unfortunately, when the network downsizes, they each have to go their separate ways, resulting in none of them being able to pursue a relationship past a tight friendship.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 stories at 11


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