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Support Local Journalism. Riverfront Times Press Club. November 21, News » News Stories. No station seems immune. On Monday night, even front-runner KSDK Channel 5 had Deanne Lane giving a grating but amusing of scantily clad pubescent girls baring their midriffs, dressing like Britney Spears.
What's a parent to do? They even had the snickering good idea of calling that night's "Cover Story" -- get this -- "Barely Covered. On the other end of the ratings scale, KPLR Channel 11 took a different tack on sex, going after "sex in public places": Men with men. Public parks. Seamy stuff, complete with digitally obscured faces and the usual telltale s of sweeps: hidden cameras and hidden microphones. Although the word "gay" was never used during this two-parter on mano y mano sex in public places, WB11 reporter Victor Ojeda spoke his first on-camera words from the front seat of a Volkswagen Cabriolet.
We get the picture -- but doesn't using a Cabriolet constitute entrapment? Ojeda opened the segment by saying he's spent "four months undercover in places where men are cruising for sex," but he didn't mean West County bars, the produce section at Wild Oats, PT's or the South Broadway stroll. He was talking about gay men cruising parks, mostly Forest Park, looking for some afternoon delight.
And what did he find? Not much.
An "undercover" cruiser with a WB11 camera in the back seat says one subject "just drove by twice, really slow and stared at us both times. Too bad neither one made a move -- that would have made great video. Instead, viewers got to see a lot of shots of men, their he pixelated beyond recognition, walking into bathrooms. And then there were lines culled from the undercover microphones, stuff like "I'm bored and horny.
I'm just driving around. No public service is being fulfilled by these reports. If the intent was to warn the audience of potential hazards, why wasn't there a mention of what patches of forest and which lavatories in Forest Park are hot spots for clandestine sex? A Web site is discussed, its name graphically garbled, of course, but the screen is shown long enough to reveal that Bellerive Park, on South Broadway by the Mississippi River, is one of the spots in which horny guys like to huddle. In one "Best of St.
Louis" issue of the RFTBellerive Park was nominated as one of the best places to get a good look of the Mississippi. Maybe next year Bellerive Park will be the inspiration for a new category: "Best spot to get a headjob and still be able to watch a barge. Predictably, understandably and justifiably, the local gay community was pissed off by the two-parter, and Pride St. Louis Inc. In a third night of reportage, Ojeda talked to Pride representatives for their reaction, and on Nov. Ripson admitted that sweeps were a factor in his decision to air the report but tried to reverse the sensational image of the ratings period.
What we feel we have to do is to put our very best material in those months of the year. The main problem with the piece, other than the fact that it wasn't news, was that it provided no context to the why of what was going on. Besides the hidden-camera footage, none of which showed anything of substance beyond restroom graffiti, the report aired only one on-camera interview, with St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwawho basically said this problem is as old as original sin.
Rolf Rathmann of Pride St. Louis says the gay community doesn't have a problem with media reports on illegal activity. His complaints involve the sensationalistic and simplistic reporting and editing.
Cutting from shots of suspicious-looking men entering a public restroom and to a shot of a young girl flying a kite "a few yards away" is done for a reason. Perhaps the only consolation is that because the Ojeda report aired on WB11, Rathmann says, he would have "never, ever have discovered" it if someone hadn't told him about it: "I watch the main stations.
Wilson at 7 p. Mondays on KDHX Tip Short Cuts: voice, ; fax, ; e-mail, shortcuts riverfronttimes.
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LouisDeanne Lane. More News Stories ». Louis Rally. Louis Riverfront Times. The WB11 has the scoop. TV news is so often annoying and ludicrous, but, like Kasem, it can be perversely attractive. Drive around on a Sunday and punch the wrong button on the car radio, and Kasem will pop up, making one of his long-distance dedications for some sappy song in the voice that brought you Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame.
It makes you cringe, it makes you listen -- for a bit. So it goes with TV news during sweeps: Pain and pleasure are seldom so closely related. Jump to comments. Top Stories. Speaking of Jul 9, Louis Jun 23, More by D. Wilson Slayer Aug 27, Most Popular Most Read.
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