TV news does so have a purpose -- identifying dead people

Viewership of local TV news broadcasts has been taking a journey to the center of the earth over recent years, but reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated -- as a recent death demonstrates. Late Friday afternoon, Michelle Weiss-Samaras of Environmental Health (the P.C. name for the Denver Coroner's Office) sent out a plea to the media asking for help identifying a cadaver that didn't register any hits via fingerprint records or missing person reports. The description was hardly unusual: a five-foot, four-inch, 121 pound white male, probably around fourteen-years old, with brown hair, brown eyes and no tattoos or scars, who was wearing brown slacks, a brown shirt and dark, sandal-like shoes on September 24. TV outlets responded immediately (because, you know, they've got time to fill) and early the following morning, Weiss-Samaras e-mailed again with thanks to the collective press. The teen's family had already seen the report and identified him. Don't know if that'll make more car dealers buy spots at 10 p.m., but it's something.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts