Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Why is Inside Edition celebrating its "20th anniversary" when it's only been on air 19 years?

The recent passing of TV salesman and syndicator extraordinaire Roger King brought attention to the tabloid magazine series, Inside Edition, which debuted nineteen years ago, on January 9, 1989 as an imitator of A Current Affair, yet for some reason is celebrating its 20th anniversary today. Inside Edition is most notable for having survived under the radar for so many years, its creators and sellers having long ago come up with a formula of inoffensiveness, packaging and coattail riding that allowed it to sail by unnoticed while its more outrageous and relevant competitors like Affair and Hard Copy were run aground.

The history of the show from its early days hosted by Al Jazeera's David Frost through it most headily tabloid years under a nebbishy and obsequious Bill O'Reilly has been documented in a most entertaining manner in the book Tabloid Baby. For the past dozen years or so, the show has been hosted by the squeaky, traumatized network newsreading castaway Deborah Norville, who, whenever she is hauled before the mainstream media, talks about the show as if it is a top network newsmagazine, is sure to slam the art of tabloid and, if the quotes in today's New York Daily News are to be believed, is definitely existing on a plane other than the temporal tabloid one we inhabit. In other words, when was the last time you saw Inside Edition? When did it last "break news"?

Or put it this way: How nuts is this broad?

"We're hitting new highs with our audience and the demos are really good," Norville told the Daily News. "We've got 5.2 million people watching ... which I think is amazing.

"I got into this business because I'm from the South, I'm a storyteller," said Norville. "And I got into journalism because I really believe in the power of the First Amendment to enable all of us to make change. Good news stories are about problems, and I always felt it was incumbent upon me as a reporter to throw out possible solutions so that the viewers will watch, and if they get jazzed about it, they may be inspired to get involved."

To that end, Norville acknowledges "Inside Edition's" Chrysler minivan exposé, which uncovered faulty door latches and forced the company to fix them, as one of its most successful stories ever.

"When you do stories like that, over a period of time you build an inherent trust with your audience," Norville said. "They think, 'You know what? Those guys are looking out for me. And when there's something that's going on that's superdangerous, they're going to let me know.'"

Norville said that despite hosting "Inside Edition" for almost 13 years, she has yet to tire of the constant influx of information, except maybe when it comes to Britney and Lindsay.

"I'm one of those people who has the attention span of a gnat," said Norville. "But with news, today it's one thing; tomorrow, it's 14 different things. The variety assures that I will never feel like, 'Oh God, here we go again,' although there are certain stories that have this sort of steady drumbeat of repetitiveness that I think all of us start rolling our eyes about after a while-- Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan being high on that list."

But at the end of the day, whatever they report on, Norville is confident viewers will be satisfied with the program.
"Whenever the big news story happens, we'll be on it like white on rice," Norville said. "We'll have stuff that you won't see anywhere else, and at the end of the hour, I think it's highly unlikely that you'll regret you spent your time watching our show."

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