19 Action News is getting plenty of pub this week for its "Puppet's Court," a segment of the show where puppets re-enact scenes from the Dimora trial down in Akron. Necessary, of course, because cameras are banned from the court.
What? You thought 19 Action News was already a newscast done entirely by puppets? No, Denise Dufala is real live human flesh. For the most part, anyway.
Gawker, the Wall Street Journal, the AP, the Plain Dealer, and a host of other outlets have latched onto the publicity grab. A clip is embedded below, if you haven't seen one already. Before that, a couple of outtakes from the coverage.
"It's entertaining ... it's professionally done, but it's not news," said Randy Reeves, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the executive producer of KOMU, the NBC affiliate in Columbia that is owned by the university. "This is a line I wouldn't cross. The visual distracts from some pretty serious stuff. Even at the end of the newscast, it's puppets. I can't get past that."
"It's a satirical look at the trial and, again, I think we have it appropriately placed at the end of the newscast," WOIO news director Dan Salamone said Thursday.
He said the puppets are in addition to the station's regular coverage of the Akron federal trial of ex-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, the longtime Democratic power broker in Cleveland.
"It's not intended in any way to replace any of the serious coverage of the trial," Salamone said.
Other notes: Natural Bridges Lots of Laughs in Parma Heights is providing the puppetry. And 19 Action News is waiting on a puppet that looks more like real Jimmy Dimora, which should come soon, and which should lend a fresh breath of credibility to the proceedings.