Maybe you've already noticed that Court TV seems to be straying into fiction and fluff and movie reruns and police chase videos. The Wall Street Journal just published an explainer: fuddyduddies like us, folks that like our crime news straight, thank you, aren't the audience that Time Warner is looking for. The media giant bought out the network and is changing the programming to appeal to younger people. Several top executives that established the voice of Court TV over the past 10 years have already departed. Call it another good network going to Younger Viewer Hell in a corporate-sponsored handcart.
We're now much more likely to see authors on the network -- but they're fiction writers commenting on true crime. Sheesh, what kind of street cred do these fiction writers have? Aren't there any real true crime authors out there looking for side jobs?
But John Waters might ride in on his white stallion to rescue Court TV. The flamboyant director of offbeat movies (like Lust in the Dust, oh Lord, hilarious) is a true crime fanatic -- I'd love to spend a day in his legendary library -- and he's getting his own true crime show. Yippie - ki - yay!
Why do some crime stories get white-hot under the media spotlight, then fade to nothing? The Bradenton (Florida) Herald published an interesting column by one Joe Kovac, Jr. of the Macon Telegraph in Georgia that delves into "the ever-blurring line between journalism and theater" and a recent headline case about a disappearance that's done a disappearing act of its own:
The Tara Grinstead saga, covered intermittently by print, cable and network news outlets since word of the former beauty queen's disappearance emerged nearly a year ago, had all the trappings of a talk-TV soap opera: an attractive school teacher; a country-town backdrop where ugly things aren't supposed to reside; and a victim with a talkative relative.
Then something happened. The one roadblock to most any story hurtled into the prime-time realm of news-as-high-speed-police-pursuit: Nothing.
You can find the rest of this interesting piece here.
A piece appearing in The Village Voice explains how and why a Colorado journalism professor, Michael Tracey, managed to inject himself in the JonBenet Ramsey case. While those who are skeptical of the case against the Ramseys might applaud his desire to see real justice done, even his colleagues at the university cite his work as an example of "things journalists shouldn't do."
If you, like me, purposefully missed John Mark Karr making a spectacle of himself on Larry King Live Monday night, the gist of it is it was all just one awful misunderstanding, folks. You can read the transcript of the kiss-ass session ("Are you a good dad?") with America's most famous pedophile on CNN's website. Anyone who asks a pedophile if he's ever harmed a child doesn't understand pedophilia. Larry, you'd make a terrible polygrapher.
It's worth reading this transcript just to see this goofus declare, on international television, "My private life is something that I'd like to have remain private." It's unfortunate he didn't feel that way when he confessed at a press conference to brutally murdering a child.
True crime author Gregg Olsen would have his own show if I ran Court TV. While I wait for Time Warner to wake up and call me, let me refer you to Gregg's top 5 true crime stories of the year so far. It's a good list, though I tend to take the very long view: unless something dramatic happens, I don't think we'll remember any of them twenty years from now. That said, "Jet" Duncan will warrant mention in future serial killer encyclopedias. Let's hope the rest of 2006 is a bit more tame and nobody else cracks this list.