Atlanta's WXIA-TV, or Channel 11 Alive as it calls itself, would have fine newscasts and features were it not for one serious problem:
11 Alive's fixation with numbers! Recently, for example, the station introduced an unfortunate feature called the Weather Information Zone, or WIZ for short, complete with a WIZometer to rate each and every day on a scale from -- you guessed it -- one to eleven.
The fact that these ratings are purely subjective -- and even inconsistent from day to day -- does not matter to their weather staff.
One is led to wonder what they will do as we move into first cool and then cold weather in North Georgia, since it is generally balmy
days which get the high numbers; perhaps 11 Alive will introduce a seasonal scaling factor, but why bother when the entire WIZ system is inherently silly and fails to meet any reasonable test for critical thinking, a subject which I taught at the college level for many years.
But other numbering systems at 11 Alive are even worse than the WIZometer. Take, for example, their 7:00 p.m. news, when they rehash their 6:00 p.m. stories in more detail and add a countdown set of numbers reflecting the ordering of those same stories -- with no explanation of what those numbers mean. Do they reflect the importance of the story as rated by 11 Alive, or some more arcane factors? Nobody knows -- and probably nobody cares, either, except the news staff at the station, whose interest in numerology is clear.
Worst of all, though, is the BULLometer or equivalent which the 11 Alive so-called Bullfighers use to supposedly expose falsehoods, lies, misreprentations and the like which they feel exist in various advertisements, activities, events, and so on. This not-very-original
feature of the nightly news might be useful, were it not also very subjective and based on the Bullfighters interpretations of the facts.
And those same Bullfighters are not exactly competent fact checkers or researchers, preferring impressions to realities.
Take, for example, their recent comparisions of political campaign ads from the two major gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Nathan Deal. The Bullfighters totally failed to expose the hollowness of Deal's campaign promises, which indeed have very little if any content; indeed, even the way Deal rattles off his pledges makes them sound like a script, and one wonders if he has notes writtin on his hands the way a failed vice presidential candidate does. All this escapes the BULLometer Boys at 11 Alive. Even worse, the most frequently-run Deal campaign ad claims that Roy Barnes "is driving all over Georgia apologizing for his first term as governor" which is an utter fabrication; having met our once-and-future governor and listened extensively to Roy Barnes, he has nothing for which to apologize and does not do so. He brought several hundred thousand new jobs to Georgia and ran the State competently, whereas most of the running Nathan Deal has done is to run away from Congress just ahead of ethics and probably other charges stemming from his term in the House of Representatives.
On the other hand, the BULLmeisters at 11 Alive picked up on a classic Southern analogy in an excellent Roy Barnes ad which outlines failures of his opponent to refer to him as "slippery as a bag of snakes", a tongue-in-cheek comment -- but the BULL Boys take it literally, claiming that since snakes are scaled rather than slippery, the ad is misleading, and giving it a very low numerical rating for truth on their BULLometer. This silliness might be amusing, except that in a close race, it becomes not just silly, but rather an intervention in favor of one candidate. Once more, numbers (in this case the BULLometer) are used inappropriately on 11 Alive, which makes me as angry as a bagful of alligators -- an analogy which would probably not score well on 11 Alive, either.