Who’s Writing Copy For Local News Broadcasts?

Conan O’Brien noticed something really odd about a whole bunch of local news broadcasts who all seemed to do the same report about Valentine’s Day online:

The only logical explanation I can come up with is that there’s someone writing the same copy for all these stations. Possibly because they’re all owned by the same company?

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    Well, I don’t know if they’re all owned by the same company; I noticed an ABC and a Fox logo, among others. It could be they’re all using the same unpaid intern.

    That was funny.

  2. walt moffett says:

    wire service (AP, Reuters, etc) or advertiser provided copy would be my guess. Or maybe its really a coded message being relayed amongst the Reptiloid overseers

  3. Tillman says:

    They’re not paid enough to be original.

  4. ernieyeball says:

    @CSK: Communications companies can and do own affiliates of different networks in different markets.
    But they are all secretly operating out of Area 51.

  5. Franklin says:

    I think this may be why I never watch local news. I thought it always seemed to be the same crap, and now Conan has proven that it is indeed always the same crap.

  6. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    It’s the same for local news papers, too. Last time I was in Seattle I bought a Seattle Times and a Tacoma News Tribune of the same day. Both papers had not only the same national and statewide articles–they were also presented in the same places on the same relative pages of the two issues.

  7. JWH says:

    My first thought was “wire story.” A story from AP or one of the other newswires will usually come with introductory copy. My second thought was “press release.” When PR companies put out press releases and/or suggested scripts, media outlets, especially smaller outlets, will often take the PR copy and run with it without any editing whatsoever.

  8. It should be noted that this is actually a recurring segment on the Conan show. My personal favorite is the meta one where he does it concering local news coverage of his own show:


  9. al-Ameda says:

    Write copy? If that’s the copy that’s being produced THAT’S really depressing.

    I’ve been of the opinion that those people are doing improv. Seriously, local news had been a happy-talk tear-jerking cesspool for decades now.