Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
NASA Television

Critics Call For NASA TV To "Liven Up" 305

An article in the LA Times calls NASA out for failing to make broadcasts on their dedicated television network as entertaining as they can be. The author, David Ferrell, complains that fascinating subject matter is often fraught with boring commentary and frequent, extended silences, making most people quickly lose interest. Quoting: "Witness one recent segment about the recovery of a Soyuz capsule upon its return to Earth. The dark, bullet-like object landed in the featureless steppes of Kazakhstan, about 50 miles outside the unheard-of town of Arkalyk. Coverage consisted of video shot from an all-terrain vehicle approaching it — mostly soundless footage of tall grass going by — with an occasional word by an unnamed commentator. 'You can see the antenna that deployed shortly after landing,' the commentator said in that deadpan tone shared by scientists and golf announcers. The camera chronicled the tedious extraction of three crew members weakened by spending six months in orbit; they were loaded one by one onto stretchers. 'Again, a rather methodical process,' the commentator noted, as if grasping for something — anything — to say. Later: 'The official landing time has been revised to 1:15 and 34 seconds a.m., Central Time. The official time was recorded at the Russian Mission Control Center . . . by the Russian flight-control team.' ... Where is Carl Sagan when you need him?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Critics Call For NASA TV To "Liven Up"

Comments Filter:
  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:32PM (#30563658) Homepage
    No, he's exactly correct. Anything other than a bog-standard rainstorm gets the 'universe might end' treatment from the idiot weathercaster in most places. Don't know where you live, but it sounds like 1) either you get really bad weather all of the time or 2) your weather desk smokes something pretty good.

    Just listen to a big city while traveling next time. You think terrorists are dangerous, do you? They're nothing compared to the Storm boogyman / Global Warming Godzilla.
  • Budget, etc. (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1x ( 528604 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:51PM (#30563760) Homepage

    The network's budget -- $1.5 million a year -- is a pittance even compared with certain programs on National Public Radio, he said, and NASA TV's full-time staff of 18 people, based in Washington, D.C., cannot hope to create the sort of polished productions that grace "Nova" and the Discovery Channel.

    That about explains it all for me. Given their budget, does it really surprise anyone that their programming isn't as 'lively' as some of the other networks? In addition, there are people like myself who simply prefer getting the facts, and find more recent programming from networks like Discovery to be somewhat sensational and lightweight in content.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 27, 2009 @01:40PM (#30564086)

    So, he's dead.

  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @01:51PM (#30564140) Homepage Journal

    In SoCal, we get "StormWatch 2009!!!" (Exclamation points added because of the way they approach it.) We don't get a lot of rain here, averaging about 15 inches (38cm) per year, and most storms bring less than an inch of rain. Any storm that is expected to bring more than an inch, or any series that combines for that, will usually trigger the StormWatch logos on the local TV stations. We had such a storm recently, and while it was important to have some heightened concern over the possibility of landslides in recent burn areas, the dramatics that were used were really unnecessary.

    I've been through some pretty serious storms, even here in SoCal. Every five to ten years, we get something through that really does some damage, overloading the drainage and flood control systems, maybe dropping four or five inches of rain in under 48 hours (and sometimes in less than 24 hours). That is more deserving of dramatics. (Yes, I know that this is a more common storm size in many other places, but factor in what the area usually gets and what we can realistically handle.)

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @03:18PM (#30564668)

    Yes, do watch David Attenborogh. At an age when a lot of peoples main hobby is drooling on themselves, he is as engaging as ever. When he commentates on something, you really feel like you are being shown something wonderful. Like being a child and your favourite uncle shows you all the different types of bugs down the bottom of your garden, but the experience doesn't get tired (largely because Attenborough has a camera crew and a budget, and can show you so much more).

    He may not cover every frame with speech, he does interject often, and when he does its with excellent deliver and content.

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @03:31PM (#30564738)
    What happened next was that there was no hurricane. There was one of the most severe storms that the south of England had seen in recorded history, but although it gusted at hurricane speed it didn't average hurricane speed so it didn't qualify as a hurricane.
  • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @09:41PM (#30567444)

    Why is everyone on here assuming that making the broadcasts 'better' 'spruced up' and 'more interesting' equates to them being dumbed down?

    Because we have seen that particular experiment done many times, and to expect a different result the next time seems crazy?

    When "Robot Wars" first started (back when Jamie H and Grant I were competitors), there were some interesting interviews with the builders. They actually talked about what made their machines work.
    After a couple of seasons they hired some former pro wrestler to add "excitement". And they encouraged the contestants to spend most of their time trash talking the opposition.

    I stopped watching soon after.

    When Junkyard Wars (re-branded versions of the UK Scrapheap Challenge) was first aired, they actually spent some time explaining the history of the type of machines they were trying to build, and talked about the physics and trade-offs of the designs.
    After they started producing the US made shows, they upped the trash talk, and cut the "how and why it works" content to about 30 seconds in the hour show.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"