Most local stations now have online polls to let viewers weigh in on various topics, as if the average person really cares if their neighbor thinks Britney's latest marriage will last or if we as a nation should allow cloned cats.
These polls allow the empty vessels that are many news directors and station general managers show they are "in touch" with their community. Right.
Which brings us to the yabbos at WWTV/WWUP-TV, the CBS affiliates in northern Michigan, where a recent online poll asked viewers whether the stations should air last night's retrospective on Dan Rather's career. Usually, that decision is made by pressing a remote in the living room. But no, the stations wanted to play Kick The Anchor When He's Down.
It was a dunderheaded maneuver that forced William Kring, the stations' general manager went into backpedal mode online:
We offered our online poll concerning the airing of the Dan Rather special as a way to let our Northern Michigan viewers voice their opinion.
Unfortunately, this simple act of broadcasting localism has been grossly misinterpreted. We were simply trying to maintain the great tradition of local viewer input that is the foundation of our modern day broadcasting system. It was never our intent to embarrass Mr. Rather or the CBS Network.
Maybe it would be more instructive to find out how many viewers want to watch "Yes, Dear" or "Still Standing." Test patterns have been found to be more amusing.
You'll be glad to know Kring suspended the poll and the program aired in its entirety. And we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the station has gone back to more serious issues in its polls. Today's query: "How soon would you like spring to arrive?"