Andy Borowitz, Ali Velshi and you tell me how to fix television right now
Those were just a few of the insights delivered by the cool folks who follow me on Twitter and friend (or, these days, "like") me on Facebook -- a focus group more than 5,000 strong weighing in on a pressing question:
What are the five ways you'd fix TV right now?
Humorist Andy Borowitz, a former TV writer himself, gave the most complete answer: "1. Permanent ban on people named "Ryan" and "Seacrest"; 2. Crossover episode between Snuggie and Slanket commercials; 3. CSI: Shaker Heights; 4. New reality show: "Trading Medications"; 5. Every American citizen gets own late night talk show."
As I noted Friday, CNN anchor Ali Velshi sent me a page worth of thoughts, which he then discussed with his readers. And I boiled down many of the best ideas for my Sunday newspaper column, found here.
My fellow columnist at Indiana University's National Sports Journalism Center, Jason Fry, provided a self-described "dorky," tech-focused list via Twitter: " 1. Ability to share recorded progs between DVRs on same network. It's BS to treat me like a thief. 2. a la carte channels as alt to bundles. 3. even smarter DVRs -- if I cut a planned recording off, immediately ask if I want to resked....4. better connex b/w TV, DVR, services -- that showing of Glee isn't skedded anymore, but it's on Hulu and we'll email the link. Finally, even better recommendations. TiVo has a good eye for what I like but can't figure out not to record a Venice show for the 12th time."
Many of your gripes centered on stuff you suspect the TV industry is doing on purpose -- from monkeying with the end times of TV shows (makes it harder to record competitors) to empty controversies and manufactured drama on so-called "reality TV" shows.
Chris wanted "fewer talk shows masquerading as news programs" and less "blatant cross promotion of shows on network news programs." Bill advocated a "return to the Fairness Doctrine" and more news shows which "identify information as opinion or verified fact." (I'm not sure who would do the fact verifying or impose penalties for getting it wrong, but I sure hope it ain't the government).
Tanya wants TV to "Stop censoring the Daily Show" and let it air in America with profanities unbleeped (she's a Canadian who says it airs unblemished there), while Jeff suggested bigwigs "Allow Sarah Palin on the Discovery Channel, but only during Shark Week. Ouch.
At a time when more corners of the media universe are in the audience's hands, these folks offered a compelling and surprisingly consistent laundry list of stuff which needs fixing in the TV industry.
I sure hope somebody out there is listening.