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10 Ways to Improve the Media.

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Ten ways we're going to improve the media around here:

1. The next time anybody has to report that Mayor Bob Walkup was taken to a secret location on September 11, it MUST be accompanied by a laugh track. I'm told that the move was ordered by Chief of Police Richard Miranda. If that's the case, it will be the worst case of ass-kissing since Sammy Davis, Jr. hugged Richard Nixon on TV back in the '60s.

2. Somebody please teach Channel 9's Destry Jetton how to pronounce her name on camera. She's actually one of the more capable news readers in town, but when she says her name, you tend to hear that screeching tires sound effect in your head. Wait a minute! Is it a "zh" sound, as in "azure," or a simple "J," as in "Jet," or an "sh," as in "Shouldn't she know how to pronounce her own name?!"

Her pronunciations are like snowflakes: No two are exactly alike.

Part of the problem comes from her being named for a fictional frontier sheriff played by James Stewart back in the 1930s. But the real trouble comes from having to tack that last name on in the same breath.

Here's the solution: We make up a fake middle initial for her. "B" works pretty well, so from now on, it's Destry B. Jetton.

You're welcome.

3. The next time any of the local TV newscasts has for its lead story something about a lost hiker, it damn well better also involve space aliens or pirates. How is a missing hiker a big story? If somebody goes wandering off in the hills during a Tucson summer, they're supposed to get lost.

And then, after Search and Rescue spends hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars looking for This Week's Dolt, the TVidiots show the tearful reunion with loved ones who held a vigil at the base of the Catalinas.

"Oh, my poor (35-year-old) son went almost 24 hours without food. He has the heart of a lion." And the brain of a gerbil.

The only way something about a missing hiker should lead off a newscast is if the hiker is Elizabeth Hurley and she wandered away from Canyon Ranch in search of a Filet of Fish.

4. More Bonnie Henry. I can't help it; I'm a sucker for those nostalgia pieces. I wasn't here in the '50s or '60s, but somehow she makes me long for a place that I never actually knew.

5. Run three hours of dead air instead of Michael Savage on KNST in the afternoons. He's a hateful, mean little man and he's polluting our airwaves. I realize that his schtick is designed to out-flank Rush Limbaugh on the right, but he takes it too far.

I really don't care that he won't allow his callers to make a point or that he drones on incessantly about the books he has written. What ruins it for me is his unforgivable habit of labeling those who would dare disagree with him as "un-American" or "traitors." That's just wrong.

I'm an almost rabid proponent of free speech. I hate political correctness and the efforts from both ends of the political spectrum to stifle the voices of dissent. However, the Supreme Court and common decency both tell us that there are limits to free speech. I can't go out in public and falsely accuse someone of being a child molester or a murderer. There are laws against that sort of thing, and justifiably so.

And yet, this butt-muncher can get on the radio and blithely accuse people of committing the only crime spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, one so heinous that it is punishable by death. This is the height of irresponsibility and should carry with it severe consequences. Calling somebody un-American is almost always un-American

We should be able to disagree with one another at the top of our lungs and up to a point just short of fisticuffs without questioning each other's love of America and belief in its principles. There are some words that just shouldn't be thrown around, and "traitor" is foremost among them. Not in anger, not for emphasis and certainly not for ratings.

6. Extend the outstanding TV coverage of high-school football throughout the school year. All three stations do a great job with football, but then the coverage of basketball, soccer and wrestling in the winter is spotty at best, and come March, it's like there are no spring sports whatsoever.

7. Somebody please tell Bert Lee that, as a general rule, sexism and anti-semitism aren't entertaining. Don Rickles used to be able to get a laugh with them, but that was a while back.

8. What do you say we go an entire week without Salpointe being mentioned in the headline of either of the dailies' sports pages? There are other schools in town. Wouldn't it be nice to have a story on somebody from Desert View or Catalina some time? Those kids bust their butts, too.

Last fall, Salpointe was mentioned more than twice as often as any other school (I counted) in stories about football and volleyball. And yet, the titles in those two sports were won by Amphi and Buena, respectively.

Part of this can be traced to the fact that Salpointe has a top-notch student newspaper. There are some good student publications in town (Sunnyside's is excellent, for example), but Salpointe's is killer. Then, these guys go on to the dailies, first as stringers and then as reporters, and the cycle continues.

My all-time favorite headline came when Amphi's girls won the 5A-South cross country title a couple years ago. The headline: "Illness keeps Salpointe from winning 5A-South crown."

9. More of that "Reporters' Roundtable" on Channel 6. I love it. That doggone Jim Nintzel is so good looking, he makes me want to rethink my sexual orientation.

10. Pardon the boosterism, but Chris Limberis all the time! For pols and movers in this town, the five most dreaded words aren't "You need a root canal," but rather, "Hi, this is Chris Limberis..."

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