Okay, I'll give it a try ..... but first, some points should be made right up front .....
1. I am a former employee of KWES-TV/NewsWest 9, the current #1 news station in the West Texas. In their employment, I was - at one time or another - a promotions assistant, public service director, writer, producer, Big Bend stringer, parade driver and web editor.
2. Before that, I was an employee of KMID-TV/Big 2, the previous #1 news station in the West Texas. In their employment, I was - again, at one time or another - a promotions assistant, public service director, go-fer, writer, producer, studio camera operator and morning news reporter.
3. In the course of those last two jobs, I have worked with many people who went on to work with CBS 7 at one time or another over the years ..... Mike Barker, Jay Hendricks, Bill Warren, J. Gordon Lunn and Jose Gaona, to name a few - and quite a few behind the camera, and in the front office - and I am pleased to count most of them among my friends.
4. I had a chance to observe the opening stages of making this show - the videotaping, and the interviews - while I was still employed at the producers' first choice, KWES-TV. It was only after a final parting of the ways with NewsWest 9 that the producers opted for their second choice, KOSA-TV ..... and, I guess, taking with them my chance for that "fifteen minutes of fame" you hear about.
Okay, that's out of the way .....
First off, is what we're seeing what it's really like? Well, yeah, sort of, more or less, I guess ..... it's like any other entry in the 'Reality TV' genre, being as much about entertainment as anything else ..... and I think viewers know that, and take what they see with that proverbial grain of salt.
For example, if I had the money to get my very own Orange County Chopper, I'd hate to think the "American Chopper" crew spent most of their time bickering, instead of assembling, or that they'd let Mikey anywhere near my baby-to-be. But for many viewers, that bickering is a big part of the shows appeal ..... And I learned a lot more about being a Survivor by growing up in the company of Marines, and listening to their stories, then I ever could have from listening to a bunch of celebrity wannabes navigating a puffed-up ropes course, and pretending they read Machiavelli.
So, if you enjoy the show ..... fine, enjoy it ..... for what it is. And remember, when it comes to reality shows, the best way to get more airtime is to be more outrageous in what you say and do - that's show business, even if that's not what you are in real life.
I suspect that views of this program will vary, depending upon whether one is an 'insider' or an 'outsider' in the business of covering news. I'm not surprised that some of the views expressed by insiders - this post cited by Jimmy at Sticky Doorknobs, and this post cited by Eric - are disdainful to varying degrees of the show, its subject and its 'stars.'
I understand where they're coming from. The opening episodes seem to focus a great deal on appearance, and less on substance - "serving up the sizzle, rather than the steak," to use one old saying. That appears to be especially true in a small market such as ours, a 'teaching market' where so many youngsters come, gain some experience, fill their resumé tape, make some connections, then move on.
But are they really to blame? They're just trying to succeed in a business where some consultant from God-knows-where, with God-knows-what actual experience in the field, has insisted they be young, slim and good-looking. As for what's inside that well-coiffed head, generating the words that issue from that well-capped smile ..... well, you're the best judge of whether there's any steak underneath the sizzle.
And how about their personalities? That's hard to tell from just watching the show ..... it is true that our market has an awful lot of youngsters from someplace else, someplace bigger, and - to them, at least - someplace better. Not surprisingly, they may not be up to speed on West Texas, its geography and its economy ..... I am still amazed at how an intelligent person, after a year or more in this market, can still underestimate the importance of the oil-and-gas industry to absolutely every facet of life in the Permian Basin. So, it may take some time for the newbies to become acclimated, and get a better feel for their new - albeit, temporary - home. But the foul-mouthed prejudice displayed by one of the shows reporters - as noted by Eric - seems to me to be a little extreme ..... though I suspect it will certainly get that reporter a lot of airtime on the show.
Most of the youngsters I've known - and there have been A LOT of them over the past 20+ years - seem genuinely sincere in learning more about, and becoming more connected to their adopted community.
Fortunately for them, there are a few long-timers and/or Permian Basin natives in the newsroom, who can provide some leavening, and offer the newbies a wealth of background information for story development ..... people like Mike Barker, Horace Brown, Crystal Crews, Pamela Hamm, Jay Hendricks, Mel Hudman, Mitzi Loera, Darrell Ward and Bill Warren, to name a few.
And that group includes some of the nicest people I've ever met, and each - through the work they do, the families they raise, and the commitments they make to improving their town - is a genuine asset to their community. And more than once, I've seen a long-timer treated pretty shabbily in this business, in this market ..... and while that may make for good reality television, it's not something I've enjoyed watching in real life.
Though I don't plan to watch the show any more, I wish CBS 7 good luck in their venture ..... it's been more than twenty years since they fell from #1 in this market, and you KNOW they have to be hungry! This reality TV exposure may help them. That being said, though, while I wish them 'good luck' ..... that doesn't mean I wish them 'success.' I still have strong feelings for the friends and colleagues I left behind at NewsWest 9 ..... give 'em Hell, gang!
It promises to be a great fight ..... but don't expect to watch it on "Making News: Texas Style."