This just in: Alarming news about anything

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breaking newsWhen I’m home, I make it a point to always watch the news. Our Local 7 news comes on at 4:45 a.m. and runs until 11:30 p.m., breaking only for the three-hour block of daytime dramas and an episode of Maury. This would be splendid coverage if I lived in a city that actually had enough news to fill this time period, but Clark County and the surrounding area are pretty small and mostly lacking in any type of actual news.

Every day someone is shot, someone dies in a car wreck or two, and a couple of places burn to the ground — the usual stuff. In winter, two-thirds of the broadcast is dedicated to wondering if it will snow and just how many horrible car crashes there will be as a result, and in the summertime two-thirds of the broadcast is dedicated to wondering just how long we will have to wait for rain and the speculation of ruin for the local farmers. Suffice it to say that Dayton, Ohio, is not at the pinnacle of success in newscasting. This is one of the reasons it makes it so interesting to watch when there actually is news.

At 4:44 the news announcers are primed and ready; they are virtually salivating to be the first to tell you about the grim horror that has unfolded overnight during the three and a half hours they were not actually on air. The light goes on and the camera zooms in on a very worried-looking anchorman.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we have breaking news! At approximately one fifty five a.m. there was a terrible smell reported at the corner of Grand and Lester Avenue. Let’s go to our on the scene reporter, Howard Iwishiweredead, Howard, can you explain the scene now?”

Howard appears, looking very worried and somewhat rumpled. He is usually standing in the midst of some unspeakable weather pattern that involves wind, rain and feral cats. You wonder immediately just how much Howard gets paid for doing this.

“Yes Jim, we’re on the scene of Grand and Lester Avenue here in Buttville where a terrible smell was reported around one fifty five a.m.! In a moment we’ll have aerial footage from our Chopper 7 of the area, but right now let’s talk to an eyewitness! Ma’am!? Did you in fact report the smell?”

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Here’s where there is apparently no filter whatsoever. They will randomly pick anyone off the street to be an eyewitness.

“Yeah!Yeah!Yeah! We uh, we was uh yeah, we were standin’ at the corner of Lester and Grand and all a sudden there was this terrible smell. Yeah. And I was sayin’ yeah uh I was saying that it was real smelly and all and someone should do something about it an all and this cop comes along and he says there’s a terrible smell so we uh, yeah, we told him it was a terrible smell. Yeah.”

The camera pans from the apparent sight of the terrible smell to an extremely worried looking Howard Iwishiweredead.

“Jim, you can only imagine the fear in the area, no one really knows where the terrible smell came from or what may have caused it. Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak to Dr. Phil via satellite from his home in Beverly Hills, who will enlighten us on the numerous maladies that can be derived from being forced to smell a terrible smell. Now back to you.”

The worried-looking but clean and dry anchorman pops back on and you wonder why he’s never standing out in the rain and wind.

“Good job, Howard. We’ll keep checking back with you for updates on that terrible smell. After the break, we take you on the scene with investigators who found the bloated rotting corpse of a rat floating in the swimming pool of the Howard Johnson’s. More on that later.”

The camera pans the bright, cheery newsroom and the smiling heads all nod and wave — Good Morning Ohio! — and now for important commercial information on how to cure abdominal obstructions, complete with graphic illustrations of female genitalia and a coupon for 50 percent off of your next purchase of disposable douches…