AMARILLO, TX—Despite claims from the TV news outlet to offer "nonstop news" and "coverage you can count on," an Onion investigation has uncovered hundreds of instances in which KAMR Channel 4 10 O’Clock Eyewitness News team relied almost exclusively on news reports, weather forecasts, and even special-interest features already generated by the station’s 6 O’Clock Eyewitness News team.
In an examination of 98 consecutive prime-time and late-night broadcasts, including dozens more nationwide, the Amarillo-based station—the region’s self-styled "News Leader"—repeatedly ran pieces for its Health Beat, Pet Patrol, and Bargain Busters segments in both evening news slots, and regularly relayed the same weather updates and traffic reports up to 15 times a day. KAMR even routinely rehashed 6 p.m. footage for seemingly urgent "breaking news" reports, most recently the Plum Creek Nursing Home power outage and the Bonham Middle School roof collapse.
In an April incident involving the 10 p.m. recap of a local Cancer Fun Run, anchor Andy Justus read almost the exact same copy introducing the piece as he had just four hours earlier, while reporter Shalandys Anderson altered only one word between broadcasts, changing "heartwarming" to "inspiring."
"If they’re ‘on our side,’ as they claim, what, then, is a purportedly professional news team doing in the four hours between broadcasts?" Amarillo resident and frequent local-news viewer Mark Jette said.
During another 10 p.m. broadcast, "live continuing coverage" from reporter Matt Orlando of a two-alarm Elwood Park house fire consisted almost wholly of previously aired footage of the firefighters in action. The lack of updated footage disappointed viewers such as Hereford, TX’s Kelly Byer, whose mild curiosity about the blaze, first piqued at the 6 p.m. newscast, went ungratified.
"It’s true that the image of that scorched little doll was powerful and may have bore repeating, but where was the follow-up footage of the devastated family at a Red Cross shelter?" Byer said. "Or some fresh b-roll of the charred ruins of the house? The public deserves better."
The investigation also found the 10 p.m. KAMR broadcast consistently re-aired closing stock numbers and high-school baseball highlights and sports bloopers, its producers and anchors apparently unaware or indifferent to the fact that the information was hours old and already common knowledge among viewers.
"They say that the 6 o’clock news team is ‘the area’s most watched news team’," Jette said. "Especially by the 10 o’clock news team."
Just last Tuesday, investigative reporter Meaghan Collier’s "Problem Solvers" segment on squalid conditions at a local dog kennel aired again at 10 p.m. without even a cursory update on the broken-legged puppy featured in the report.
"Their ‘Scorching Summer’ coverage was even worse," Jette continued. "How many times do you have to repeat the same ‘cool tips’ before all of Amarillo is crystal clear on exactly how to beat the heat?"
While KAMR was a particularly flagrant offender, it is by no means alone. In a segment about the San Diego Zoo’s baby pandas, KFMB- TV-8’s News At 11 not only offered footage identical to the previous telecast, but practically indistinguishable coos of affection from the co-anchor.
At some stations, the problem goes far beyond one-time reuse. An 11 p.m. segment on heart-smart dinner alternatives on New Haven, Connecticut’s WTNH Channel 8 was not only previously seen on the 6 p.m. news, but also on Live At 5, The 4 Report, and The News At Noon With Sonia Baghdady. Another piece on the city’s aging school buses was rotated into the following day’s Good Morning New Haven! as well.
In extreme examples, such as in Louisville, KY’s WLKY-TV prime-time and late-night newscasts, the only distinguishable characteristic is the lead anchor’s concluding suggestion to "stay tuned for [David Letterman’s] The Late Show."
Despite the mounting controversy over the KAMR Channel 4 team, the investigation was unable to conclusively prove that the hopeful wishes to see viewers the next day, and the camaraderie and laughter shared between co-anchors Kyla Cullinane and Elizabeth Dinh, were anything less than genuine.