Thursday, March 12, 2009

NPR Audio Meltdown Makes for Difficult Listening

No, We Don't Know. You Know?

NPR is having a slog of it today.
What were only described by "All Things Considered"co-host Robert Siegel as "technical difficulties," have prevented any soundbites or taped reports to be heard.
So, the 5 p.m. ET hourly newscast was a straight read by Jack Speer. Any reports from correspondents were turned into Q&A sessions. That's all well and good, and such segments are normally part of the mix on "ATC" and "Morning Edition.
The problem occurs when it sounds like the correspondent had a taped piece completed, but now that it can't air, has to finesse a live shot -- and isn't quite prepared for that.
The normally solid Chris Arnold (above), who's done yeoman work on the financial crisis, was reporting on another good day on Wall Street. But his Q&A with Siegel, which lasted about 3 1/2 minutes, contained at least 15 instances when Arnold said "you know."
I've long had a problem with "you know." Because you know what? I don't know. That's why I'm listening -- so I will know.
It's one of those crutches that people fall back on when they can't think of anything else to say. Arnold knows how to speak, and we're all entitled to a bad day.
But "you know" is the rhetorical equivalent of nails on a blackboard. It has no place on a network newscast, especially 15 times in one segment.
You know?

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