This is somehow a big deal.
Let me rock your word: every news segment you see isn’t a made-fresh-daily product. I know some newscasters that definitely develop/put together their own stories. They can put months into a 5 minute broadcast. Because they care about the subject. Because they know getting their facts and interviews straight will be worth it to their audience.
It doesn’t surprise me that some (or most) of it is scripted by someone out of house. Because at the end of the day–every day–they have to fill so many minutes of airtime. Tragedies, snow days, first days of school, lost puppies, firefighter strikes, slow news days, and all the in between. These stations bought a packaged segment, probably because no one wanted to waste valuable time writing a fluffy holiday piece.
I’m not even surprised if most of the “big” news is a pre-made package. There’s no way a station in California is going to have any personally researched information on something happening in New York. They’re getting their news from CNN, the Associated Press, Reuters, or some form of social media (Twitter/Facebook/audience reporting). They bought those facts–and their exact wording–from somewhere that was vetted and had double checked their facts. Ok, yes, in the case of social media you can’t really “fact check”, but they are getting screen caps and usually reporting this as information they got from those sources. Again, “usually”. Buying it from a source makes that source liable if something goes wrong, and saves newscasters some time in the era of 24 hour reporting.
It’s like buying a store bought pie, but making the turkey yourself. These stations–especially the smaller ones–want to deliver a consistent, good product. And sometimes they just don’t have time to make the pie and the turkey, so they bought something that was already well made. What’s shocking is that the folks that made the original package didn’t have a cap or a counter so that small news stations could see how many times their segment was used. This is pretty common on stock photo sites so you can see how often the photo has been used and you can even buy exclusive licenses. It’s to help the purchaser make an informed decision and give them the option of buying another, less-used product and keeps everyone’s message fresh and original looking.
This was just a lazy market place and everyone got caught. And the folks at Conan’s show probably knew that this was a practice that had been going on for awhile and realized they could fill their joke time slot with a segment about newscasters filling their holiday time slot. Here’s another shocker: Conan doesn’t write all his own jokes. He has a writing staff of 20+ people, who are probably are getting some of their ideas from aggregate companies that watch all the news, cable, and tv internet that they couldn’t possibly watch and still come to work and write jokes everyday.
I just wanted to throw in some rational to mix with the Big Brother conspiracy theories. Conan’s segment isn’t proof that Big Brother exists, it’s proof that no one knew how the news worked before today.