Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A reporter. A good reporter. A good slow speaking reporter. A good slow speaking annoyingly dramatic by talking like this reporter. (Pat Collins)

Despite my distaste for local TV news, occasionally even I will lower myself and indulge in the latest goings-on of the metro DC area. Like any major market, DC has its share of beat reporters, silly anchor banter, and at least one story that's "a major scandal". Of reporters who work outside of the studio, many of them do a good job of gathering and telling the facts. There usually isn't much separating these reporters outside of their looks (the #1 reason why people get to bigger markets) and their job detailing a live breaking news story.

Almost all live on-camera reports follow the same path. Let's say there was a serious accident on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. The report will start with a live shot during which the reporter teases the story yet again (after the anchors have done so all day long in promos and their intro). Then the tape will roll consisting of two sound bytes from police officials, shots of flashing lights, cars driving on King street, and maybe an MOS (man on the street) interview about how dangerous the intersection has been the last few years. Then a shot back on-camera as the reporter decides it's time "throw things back to the studio."

I've noticed one regular reporter separates himself from the others.

Is it because he breaks stories? Nope, not that I've noticed or care to notice (since credit for breaking news is always given to the reporter on the story no matter their input).

Is it because the cameraman he works with gets great pictures in synch with his words? Nope, the shots during his report are nothing you can't find on the other major stations (though shots during Fox's weekend broadcasts would be greatly helped if someone used a tripod).

This reporter has a certain way of speaking. And in my humble opinion (it's my blog, so I can't be humble!), his manner of speaking is so slow that it's annoying. Of course I'm speaking of WRC/NBC-4's Pat Collins, who does a good job putting together any story, but that minor detail when he opens his mouth to actually talk, happens as fast as a 100-meter sprint through molasses.

I'm at the point where I refuse to view his pieces. I no longer even wait to hear, "Pat Collins is live on the scene." NBC-4 also has George Michael, and well that's enough reason for me to change the channel before I lose another second of my life that I won't get back.

Collins' speaking reminds me of a jack-in-the-box with a dial on the side that you turn to play a song before the big surprise when it's done. Of course, his jack-in-the-box dial needs so much WD-40 because it is turned so slowly that you've forgotten the last note that was played because it was so long ago. If you've never had the (cough) opportunity to listen to his reports, try this experiment. Have someone talk to you about anything, but they're only allowed to say one word every 7 seconds. Let me know if it's annoying. Talk about pulling teeth sans anesthesia. I've always felt life moved a 1/2-step slower here in the DC area compared to the pace of life in the city (that's NYC for you newbies), but this is ridiculous.

This Washington Post article gives you a nice idea of his reporting style. Here's an excerpt:

A dead girl. A mystery. And Pat Collins. Is there.

"Doreen, she was just 15 years old," begins the Channel 4 reporter. He's planted in front of the Prince George's County cop shop, wearing, for some reason, a baseball cap. "She lived in Fairfax County."


"She was found murdered" -- pause -- "in Prince George's County. She'd been missing for about 12 days. Now, she'd been having some problems in school. But no one" -- huge, hulking, super-dramatic pause -- "no one expected something like this."

Does he get his facts right? Sure, but as the Post wrote, "
There are the odd, somewhat theatrical rhythms of his delivery, which can, he admits, turn off some viewers." Well count me in as one of those turned off by his delivery. It's just too slow. Perhaps it's because I'm a product of the first generation brought up on the Internet so I expect information to reach me when I want it and how I want it - immediately. Collins' style does not comply with the immediacy expected from local TV news either.

The saddest thing? Here's the kicker (ahh, those TV terms haven't left my writing vernacular!), once TV station owners realized the amount of profit available in local TV news (thanks to incredibly low salaries for everyone off-camera, and lots of commercials, among the many factors), the bottom line for a TV news broadcast quickly became ratings while quality quickly dropped.

If Mary Jane's cousin was murdered, it would be nice if things like the story's facts, including such aspects as, oh, I don't know, Mary's account of who her cousin wasb fill the 90-second piece instead of imposing your own take on things. While a report about the latest crime shouldn't need any help keeping our interest, the sad truth is because local TV news looks, sounds, and feels the same, you've gotta differentiate yourself to please news directors and station managers. You'd be naive to think a story is ever allowed to stand on its own. Ever wonder why you don't exactly see the ugliest people as anchors?

As a grizzled, veteran DC reporter, his skills are not to be questioned. He can gather facts like other "reporters", but he just takes too long telling it to viewers. His style is overly-dramatic when the story should be what we notice and care about.

How do you increase ratings? Well there's the whole "tears, tots, tits" theory, along with "if it bleeds it leads" to get viewers. However, if the other 3 local TV stations have the same stories because they all listen to the same police scanners (as station exclusive stories aren't daily occurrences), you can only differentiate yourself by the person actually telling the story.

And that's why Collins has been filing reports for decades. For better or worse, he's a personality in a field and market lacking any.


Anonymous said...

I share your sentiments. His reporting style is EXTREMELY ANNOYING.

t0adphr0g said...

I too live in the MD/DC area, and I have to agree with you too. Click here to watch Pat Collins deliver the news is his unique fashion.

Anonymous said...

The man is an absolute idiot. I have NO idea why he is still employed as a reporter. My grandmother could report the news more professionally.

Anonymous said...

Hi, what joy to find your comments! I can't stand this guy for his exaggerated delivery, mock sympathy, and obvious delight in the lurid or disturbing story. Plus, as I wrote him in an email just this morning, there's something of the buffoon about him. He and Fred Vance both irk the daylights out of me, so I really never watch Channel 4. By a fluke, however, I recently caught the loathesome Mr. Collins reporting an accident in which a grandmother and toddler were killed... he wandered the scene of the deaths, picking up pieces of the crashed vehicle and holding them aloft for the camera... ugh. Everything about him makes my skin crawl. Thanks for letting me vent my spleen!

B and T Crowd said...


I'm glad to be of service to the DC metro area. I saw him the other day and thought about telling him that I don't like his style, but then I realized that's just asking for him to speak to me. I'm not sure I could stand hearing him in person.

Bob said...

Yeah, it's not so much the speed as the sensationalism he creates out of the details of unfortunate events (murders, accidents, etc.). The facts should be presented for the viewer to interperet....viewers do not want to watch Collins delight in exaggerating the gorey details. He drives me crazy.

Max H. said...

Oh, thank the FSM, my wife and I thought we were the only ones who dive for the remote every time we hear his voice. While I agree that he seems to have great off-camera skills, his stilted, affected delivery are like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Anonymous said...

No level is too low for the sensationalistic reporting of Pat Collins. We agree, this guy is a total idiot and he completely detracts from the news organization that introduced as to the class act that was the late George Michaels. My wife and I cannot understand how NBC4 could stoop so low by keeping this leach on staff. If he is an actually genuine nice guy, then why does he continue to insult the viewing public by sensationalizing tradgedies. This guy is the opitome of an unprofessional knuckle dragger.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I'm actually typing this while watching him during the 6:30pm news. I googled "Pat Collins annoying" and this site popped up. LOL
Wow, you wrote this four years ago and he's STILL on. Sad.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one gritting my teeth every time he comes on. Today he actually was reporting on a tree as if it was a conscious murderer... "and then, without warning, without provocation.... this branch... this huge heavy branch...fell...near the children... the children... at play..." GAG! And how could a tree possibly be provoked. I really hope they take him off of the air- I can't stand it!

B and T Crowd said...

I'm glad to see this post still gets activity :)