Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ten Things on the German Nightly News

Ten observations on the German nightly news, which an American might be curious about.

First, I'd humbly suggest that at least one of every three German adults watch the Channel One (ARD) 8PM news.  It's a fifteen minute standard....seven nights out of the week.  The commercial channels?  They all have a 15-25 minute national news piece but I seriously doubt that more than one German out of ten watch their piece.  The chief difference between the two?  There's a sports minute or two on the state-run channel, but the commercial channels tend to run more sports highlights.

Second, state-run regional channels do offer a ten to twenty minute news piece on most nights of the week.  They tend to key into things like: bridges being completed, a bank robbery, major traffic accidents, or some new zebra at the local zoo.  As for how many Germans will watch their regional news piece?  I'd humbly take a guess that it's around one person out of twenty-five.

Third, the moderators change.  If you watch the Channel One 8PM news....there's a different moderator every single night.  Why?  They will tell you that it takes alot of effort to produce that one evening piece and it's better to keep fresh people coming in each day to piece together the segment.  They would also prefer not to have one guy carrying the weight of the show or creating his own version of the news for the nation.  For the commercial channels?  They tend to run with regular folks, who'd you'd recognize on a nightly basis.

Fourth, the weather segment matters.  The Channel One 8PM news will always end with about 90 seconds of weather.  In the winter, this prediction of how bad or nice it will be the next day....actually matters.  People will change their entire plans for the next day, based on the amount of snow or ice-rain predicted.

Fifth, slanted news.  The Channel One news folks that sit around in other countries....will have a tendency to tell the news in some fashion.  They usually hang around other journalists with their same beliefs.  So yes, they might slant the news and tell you that Tea Party folks are fascists, or that the British stock market is screwed up, or that the American banks are the root and cause of all economic evil in Germany.  There will be twenty sentences uttered during their two-minute piece and it'll be quoted to you the next day about the "facts" that your German associate picked up.

Sixth, no commercials.  State-run TV will have a minute or two of commercials prior to the show, but they run all the way through after that....with no ads.

Seventh, big events beg for more time.  If some story is way too big to tell during the 8PM period, then a 30 to 60 minute segment is added usually after the 8:15.  However, if a big German TV series or movie was scheduled....then the special segment will follow that series or movie.  Don't ask for the rhyme or reason....it's the way that things work.

Eighth, don't expect million dollar graphics.  None of the major German news programs have a huge graphics shop.

Ninth, screw-ups do occur.  Typically, you might notice it once or twice a month on the nightly news.  What typically happens is that they collect these odd moments, and around Christmas....there's a goof-up show where they feature a eight-minute segment of goof-ups on both national and regional news.

Tenth, the plain truth is that you really do get just enough of the news in fifteen minutes to keep you informed.  The idea of an hour of news?  It's generally disproven, if you watch the 8PM news spot.

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