Five Reasons To HATE State Fair TV News Coverage

I loathe State Fair TV news coverage. And just to preempt the question, yes, I’m not “from here.”

The State Fair begins tomorrow, but State Fair TV news coverage started in roughly February. I’ve already been through a lot, so allow me my primal scream.

Reasons to hate on State Fair TV news coverage:

Reason #1: Because it crowds out all other news coverage. If in the next ten days Kurt Zellers comes out for a 75% tax on all Tea Party members’ Medicare benefits, the Vikings trade a 73-year old groundskeeper for Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson, and space aliens colonize a Mahtomedi strip mall, this much I promise you: You will not hear about it. No chance. Why? Because during the last 10 days of August there is sameness happening in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. And there is an unwritten rule in Twin Cities TV newsrooms: All that is the same in Falcon Heights must crowd out all that is new in the rest of the state. (Though to be fair, the crop art turns over every year.)

“It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

Reason #2: Because skinny people repeatedly fabricating overeating stories is never that funny. One of the many recurring gags we will suffer through during State Fair TV news coverage involves willowy anchors and svelte reporters exchanging witty repartee about how grotesquely bloated and obese they are from going all Joey Chestnut on Commoner Food all day long. Oh, the humanity! Their image consultants tell them that pretending to be like the binging masses will help their Nielsens. But make no mistake, they are mocking us, as they spit and rinse their Sweet Martha’s at station breaks, and nibble the sensible sack lunches packed by their personal nutritionists.

“And they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!”

Reason #3: Because even hilarious jokes lose their charm when repeated the 653,776th time. “On a stick.” “Jokes” using those three hideous words will be repeated hundreds of times over the next 10 days on TV news. Though even Ed McMahon wouldn’t laugh the 653,776th time, you can count on our TV news friends to guffaw uproariously at every “on a stick” utterance, as if they just heard it for the first time. To make things worse, every PR person in town will put their client’s product or service on-a- stick – long term care insurance on-a-stick, get it?! — because it is the one guaranteed way to get coverage for your otherwise non-newsworthy client.

“They’d stand hand in hand and they’d start singing.”

Reason #4. Because Def Leppard hasn’t been remotely newsworthy for at least twenty years. …yet we can be certain that there will be a full length news story about them by every station. Why? Because for the last ten days or August, anything within earshot of the broadast booth is automatically deemed newsworthy. Plus, it’s so adorable when Frank tosses “Pour Some Sugar On Me” segues to Amelia.

“They’d sing! And they’d sing! AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!”

Reason #5. Because the 3.5 million Minnesotans who avoid the Fair every year are people too. One of the most fascinating parts of State Fair news coverage – and it’s quite a competition — is regular attendance updates. Spolier alert: The number will astound the reporters. Last year, it was 1.77 million. Though I’ve always suspected that’s probably the same 177,000 mini-donut addicts coming back each of the ten days, for the sake of argument, I’ll accept the number. Even using that number, that leaves something like 3.56 million of us — about two-thirds of all Minnesotans, I’ll have you know — who have chosen NOT to attend the State Fair. And maybe, just maybe, those of us who chose to stay away from the Great Minnesota SweatTogether would rather the news broadcast contain a little actual NEWS.

“Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop it from coming! …But HOW?”

There. I’m better now. Nothing like a good rant. On a stick.

– Loveland

22 thoughts on “Five Reasons To HATE State Fair TV News Coverage

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    Yes, so well said. Precisely the tension-release and discharge some of us learned to practice after years of orgone therapy with Wilhelm Reich. The relief is palpable. And is Frank Vascilaro (sp?) the worst news reader in the Twin Cities–although I’m told he’s a nice guy? But I digress.

  2. Joe: This is very witty and in common with all truly good humor – close to the mark. If this gets out beyond our digital borders, Letterman is to come looking for you with bundles of cash. Think about it. You’d love writing his Sara Palin, Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry jokes.


  3. Gary Pettis says:

    In regard to Reason 4, you need to dig a little deeper and be less sarcastic before you make blanket claims about Def Leppard’s last 20 years.

    Def Leppard appeared with Taylor Swift on CMT Crossroads in 2009, bridging the gap between classic rock and up-and-coming country. It seems Taylor’s mom was a big Def Leppard fan as a young woman and Taylor considers the band an influence. This episode of CMT Crossroads received a mix reaction from die-hard Def Leppard fans as some have no taste for a good country tune.

    The Def Leppard-country connection continued this year when the band played on Celerity Apprentice “to help out John Rich (Big & Rich) with his 7UP Retro promotion.” John Rich won this year’s Celebrity Apprentice despite Def Leppard showing up late for the gig.

    This year’s Celebrity Apprentice Finale earned the highest ratings for any Sunday show on any network and was ranked 11th for the week. What band that’s been around for more than 30 years wouldn’t love to have that kind of exposure today?

    The band’s summer world tour includes the Minnesota State Fair and its last two dates are in Osaka and Tokyo.

    There is plenty of material here for a full length news story.

  4. Clever but incisive takedown of the media, Joe, and its obsession with fried butter on a stick and bullshit (but I repeat myself). Having lived in Dallas for the last 12 years and off and on for a number of other years including the college days, I’ve been to one dreadful Texas State Fair here in all that time, around 1970 or so. The only thing that made it bearable was popping a Lude at the top of the ride on the Ferris Wheel. Now that doing drugs is out of fashion and (sadly) I’m way too gray and responsible for sex, drugs and all-night rock and roll anyway–and now that diabetes from America’s reckless eating habits is taking down even young people and sending our health care costs spiraling every day, I can’t stomach a State Fair, not to mention the sickening coverage of it. Recreational foods and lethal eating habits of the sort that the media promote at every turn at every State Fair are as damaging as recreational drugs (and yes, “recreational” drugs, like alcohol, can, and do, do major damage too). Food is the new and potentially the most dangerous recreational drug habit in the country. But let the First Lady promote so much as moderate eating habits and watch the media jump to the command of politicians and right-thinking Americans who see the promotion of more good food and less junk as part of Team Obama’s communist plot to indoctrinate our youth.

  5. PM. says:

    My advice–ignore the TV altogether. Turn it off. But go to the fair–approach it like an anthropologist would. Ask the “why” questions–why do all of these people congregate at this one place, at the same time? Why do people like crowds? Why do so many like to see and be seen? Why can’t fat people wear something other than spandex?

  6. For the 10th year, I will be working at the State Fair for the American Lung Association in Minnesota. I have found that most of the local teevee stations cover the same state fair stories every years. Pitching anything new to them, even with their entire news crews on site, is pretty frustraiting.

      1. Heh. We are doing “Clean Air On A Stick” by adding a shaft to our newly wrapped Ford F-150 pickup, which we fuel exclusively with cleaner-burning E85. It makes its debut in tommorow’s State Fair Parade, which starts at 2 p.m. We’ll be in the Parade again on Tuesday, Aug. 30, same time.

  7. Cara says:

    Reason #6: Because the request for State Fair story tips overwhelms my news feed, and 140 characters is more than this topic deserves.

    Reason #6a: Because your food-on-a-stick photos either make me sick to my stomach, or ravenously hungry, neither of which are productive during the workday.

  8. Joe Loveland says:

    As I was saying to a reporter friend, who may now be an ex-friend, I actually don’t hate the Fair. I just don’t get it. It’s a head-scratcher to me. It strikes me as the ultimate re-run, and I guess I’m just not nostalgic enough to appreciate the upside of that. But my outrage here is a wee bit exaggerated, because that’s what we do here in the blogosphere. State Fair coverage is schmaltz, but it’s part of who we Minnesotans are, and the schmaltz has it’s charm, in moderation.

  9. Jim Leinfelder says:

    It’s an inexpensive ten-day promo for the affiliates, which is essentially the use to which everyone puts the Great MN Get Together, and every other fair in existence.

    I recommend to you Karal Ann Marling’s “Blue Ribbon,” a black and white pictorial and written history of the fair for some perspective.

  10. I remember Hurricane Katrina got a lot of coverage during the Minnesota State Fair (and the news organizations raised a lot of money at their fair booths), and I remember scooting off the fairgrounds one year to rush to a tornado. I disagree that “real” news doesn’t get covered.

    With so many state leaders and politicians out working the crowd at the fair, and so many Minnesotans taking time off of work for the last gasp of summer, it tends to be a slow time.

    But most discretionary coverage goes to the fair – and as people don’t seem to be tuning out to any degree, I suspect the people who complain about the local news coverage of the fair are people who don’t typically watch the local news in the first place.

    That said, I’d love to see Loveland out at the WCCO booth during the fair – so we can take a picture together. And I’ll give you an Ellen fan.

  11. Oh – and this was a pretty funny rant, BTW. However, I think a pro-fair coverage rant would have generated more comments and traffic in this crowd.

    – The SEO/Marketing Team

  12. “Nothing like a good rant. On a stick.”

    I’m late, no news there…but couldn’t help but point out the missed opportunity on your ending line, which should have been–
    –Nothing like a good rant. On a schtick.

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