Television junkies like me who are stuck without TIVO and are forced to endure through commercials know that television just got out of a special time of the year: May Sweeps. Sweeps is a slang term within the television industry based around the Nielsen ratings system. Nielson sends out a special type of survey to Nielsen families get a special type of survey to fill out, and networks plan their schedule to attract eyeballs within a time frame. This leads to television shows planning their big, shocking, expensive episodes during this time, and local affiliates will air their biggest news stories during this time as well.
A consequence of sweeps is that ominous music is used to promote news pieces, and often you'll see out-of-context clips of a politician walking away from a camera or an official refusing to answer questions. They often make mountains out of molehills.
Kara Kenney at WRTV had a piece about high-pressure sales tactics being used by a travel agency to convince people they can afford vacations that they probably can't. Kenney and a hidden camera attend a presentation themselves and later sit down with a sales rep. The presentation includes a PowerPoint presentation that shows off several advertisers of prominent Indiana based companies and institutions that later turns out to be less-than-truthful. Kenney later experiences a high pressure salesman that becomes more aggressive with each "No".
Kenney says this investigation all started late last year when she entered to win a car while doing holiday shopping at a mall. Soon after entering that contest, she started getting calls from a travel agency.
This isn't ground breaking scandals, but this is a good story because this is the type of scam that happens a lot and can happen to every day people, even those who think they are immune to these types of tactics.
The other excellent sweeps piece is from Channel 13. Their story details how several state agencies have been paying millions of dollars in fees just because they haven't been able to pay their bills on time. The catch is that while these agencies are paying these fees, their core budgets are being slashed and services are being cut while state legislatures and Governor Mitch Daniels are saying that the money isn't there to provide services. But apparently, it is there to pay for late fees.
WRTV and Channel 13 should be commended for giving their reporters the resources, the time, and the patience that these investigations took.