Letters to the Editor

BROADCAST BOOS

To the Editor:
Well, thank you, Richard Byrne. No wonder my usual responses to stories on our local TV news stations are usually: "I don't care about that." "That's old." "Why are they showing that?" "Again?" "Still?" "That was stupid." "Who wanted to see that at all (much less for the 15th time)?"

It's obvious that TV news (and the printed stuff as well) is suffering from rampant inbreeding. The 9:30 a.m. meeting Richard Byrne describes going on at KDSK ("Fast Forward," RFT, Dec. 23) is no doubt mirrored at the other stations, and shows that the newsgivers take it upon themselves to decide want we want to see/hear. Where is the perspective? Where is the gatekeeping function? Where is the thought?

It's obvious that all the stations are out of touch with the people who actually watch the news. What KSDK (and the other stations) should do is, 10 minutes before their confabulations, they should walk out on the street outside of their studios and collar three to five normal humans and usher them into the meeting. When a story is proposed, these everyday barometers should be polled: "Is this something you care about? Is this something you would want to see on the news?" If a majority say no, the story should be dropped like a hot rock, even if they already do have five minutes of footage in the can.

Had this kind of reality check been administered in the past, I guarantee you that Monica Lewinsky would have disappeared last March. That latest gory death would have been shown once or twice, then shelved. And hundreds of other pointless (oh, but we've got video) tidbits of sensational "news" would have been put where they belong -- on tape cartridges that five minutes later would be erased.

Laura Kyro

To the Editor:
We've no doubt the pace at Channel 5 is hectic, but isn't it amusing to see a claim made for news judgment? News judgment is like taste -- you can have plenty of it, and all bad.

Using the term "news judgment" is like public radio's "intelligent talk"; these days, both are pretentious to an extreme (I'd say sophomoric if it weren't so demeaning to the second-year student).

Television-news coverage was ever so much better when only a fraction of the time was available, without time for fluff fillers and man-in-the-street reaction pieces (which home in unerringly on the uninformed and/or those favoring the station's political tilt).

Gosh, this is negative. Given the subject, how could it be otherwise!
Earl F. Birkicht

PLANE TRUTH

To the Editor:
The RFT reported in "Terminal Illness" (RFT, Dec. 16) that MidAmerica Airport is unused, and that Lambert's expansion was promoted by Missouri interests and MidAmerica by Illinois interests, but the article did not consider MetroLink's expansion in Illinois. Lambert's director, Leonard Griggs, is quoted as saying that MetroLink is scheduled to expand to MidAmerica "eventually," but an extension to Belleville Area College will be finished in 2001, and the final design of a further extension to Scott Air Force Base and MidAmerica will be ready in September. It will probably be built by 2003.

The existing MetroLink is 17 miles, and its most-used station, at Fifth and Missouri Avenue, is in Illinois. The Belleville extension will double that length, and there is significant private real-estate activity along the right-of-way, especially near the eight new stations. In relatively undeveloped southeastern Illinois, MetroLink will have different consequences than it has had since 1993, when it began operations. Most of the current system was based on old railroad lines in a developed area.

As MidAmerica director Floyd Hargrove says, the linking of the two airports "will then mean two major airports are directly connected by light rail, and there's no other place in the world that I know (where that is true)." MetroLink will be 43 miles long and have 29 stations, vs. the current 19. MidAmerica will be as accessible as Lambert is to downtown St. Louis, and the ride between the airports will be 85 minutes. MidAmerica will be useful for "commuter" airlines, for freight and charters, and as a supplement to Lambert's regular traffic on special occasions. In 20 or 30 years, it may be as busy as Lambert is now. It would be useful if Bi-State and the airports were under the same jurisdiction. That would be a real move toward a much-acclaimed "regionalism."

Mark Heyman

BABY TALK

To the Editor:
As a person with a "fancy college degree," I find Patrick G. McCarthy's reasoning ("Letters," RFT, Dec. 23) a bit faulty in several places.

He is correct that insurance companies cover damage from unforeseen circumstances. Lack of access to affordable birth control can cause the unforeseen circumstance of a pregnancy. However, insurers are willing to cover the birth and care of the consequence of their failure to cover contraception.

Insurance providers also cover treatments for infertility, which is a pre-existing condition. The use of Clomid, Pergonal and in vitro fertilization is as voluntary as elective cosmetic surgery, which isn't reimbursed by most health plans. If the cost of birth control is to rest solely on the user, then it is only just that insurers no longer subsidize prenatal care and birth. These expenses would be the responsibility of they who choose to have children.

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