How Does Something Like This Even Happen?


Conan O’Brien noticed something kind of weird about local news broadcasts on Valentine’s Day. Which is to say, he noticed on-air news people on different stations, representing different network affiliates, in places all over the country all repeating the exact same report about people using online dating.

Verbatim. The exact words.

Watching the clips sequentially is pretty hilarious, but also kind of troubling. As in, who wrote the copy that all these news people are reading? It would be one thing if it were a just a bunch of affiliates of the same network – say, NBC or CBS – all reading the same copy of some story sent to the entire network. But it’s not. It’s different networks, supposedly independent of one another, all saying the same thing.

Not just reporting the same “story” or using some of the same buzz words, but repeating the same line. Verbatim. All over the country.

How does something like that happen?

It’s one thing for a fluff story like this to get repeated. But how much real news is disseminated the same way? With talking heads just repeating words delivered from some central location?