With more of us returning to local news after the fall of Saddam Hussein, what better time to revisit Portland's TV newscasts?
The biggest gripe about local news, of course, is that it's all the same. And that's true: Much of it could move from one station to the next without missing a beat.
But it's not all-Doppler, all the time. Starting today and continuing for the next four Fridays, the Tribune will focus on local newscasts in each time slot, trying to definitively answer the question: 'Is there really a reason to watch one station over another at a certain time of day?
Our scouting reports begin with a look at each station's morning news:
KATU (2): Transplanted KPTV anchor Ken Ackerman Ñ a former host of that station's 'Good Day Oregon' Ñ is still trying to settle into his anchor role with Debora Knapp. As the news consultants used to say, the best anchors have mastered a 'relaxed intensity.' Ackerman has the intensity down but needs to fine-tune the relaxed. É The continuous bottom-of-the screen crawls (borrowing from the cable news channels) don't really work. The lettering needs to be bolder and the headlines written with more pizazz. É There's been a big emphasis on local military personnel who've been serving in Iraq ('Hometown Heroes'), an attempt at outdoing the competition in the patriotism arena. É The pace of stories, their presentation, sometimes seems to plod along.
KOIN (6): Channel 6 pretty much lives up to its new slogan: 'News That's to the Point.' But a big problem remains the CBS morning show, a decades-old ratings killer that greatly inhibits any chance of an affiliate gaining ground in the mornings. É Hair counts, especially for anchors, and I like Reed Coleman's shorter do. É The graphics for 'Real Time Metro Traffic' clutter up the screen big-time. And if I'm getting dressed or eating breakfast while watching the news, how much does it help me to know it's going to take five minutes to get downtown from the intersection of Oregon Highway 217 and U.S. Highway 26? É The music used under pre-commercial teases sounds way too ominous.
KGW (8): It seems that Brenda Braxton and weather guy Dave Salesky have been working the morning gig forever, so they've got the comfort factor and rapport that are crucial in the mornings, where viewing habits aren't easily altered. É Co-anchor Russ Lewis looks more the evening-anchor type but blends well with the morning crew. É The show may soon need some new and perky features or special segments, because sometimes it gets a tad predictable, not unlike NBC's 'Today,' to which it leads in.
KPTV (12): Channel 12 has made major strides in the ratings over the past year, largely because it has injected more real news into what had been a feature-oriented show that drifted toward the meaningless and stupid. É The anchor team of Kimberly Maus and Pete Ferryman is as good a morning match as you'll find. Both are easy on the eyes and ears while providing credibility and not too much perkiness. É The segments move well and have that knack of supplying just enough information for morning viewers on the run. É One major plus is having a helicopter in the air every morning, with Tony Martinez doing traffic and breaking news. É The feature '12-Minute Look at News, Traffic, and Weather' is practical packaging.