We were watching the local evening news a few weeks ago and counted two stories covering murders, one armed robbery and a failed terrorism plot before the first commercial break.

Could the local evening news be so laughably depressing everywhere?

With the help of Asylum readers from 10 major U.S. cities, we found out. The answer: a resounding yes. That, and discoveries like Atlanta's inability to cope with snowfall and near incapacitation as a result of flurrying; Miami's use of alliterative story titles to terrify its viewers; and just about every city's reliance on heroic or rescued dogs to resuscitate viewers after miserable broadcasts.

The substance of the local evening news from the first full week of the New Year (Jan. 4-8, 2010) boiled down to the 10 categories of stories from accidents to crime to weather. Based on those categories, we created a "Misery Index," which accounted for how depressing each category is, and the percentage of time each broadcast devoted to each category.

The cities are ranked from least to most depressing, along with a pie chart and a highlight from each city's news coverage. We warn you, it's not pretty.


Overview: It's snowing outside, with a chance of LeBron.

Human Interest: A feel-good story involving a dog, with a twist: A man fell on ice, fell unconscious and a dog licked him to wake him up. The news team tells viewers that the dog "licked the man back to life." That one kind of wrote itself.


Overview: New York City showed a fairly even distribution of stories and surprisingly came in tied for eighth overall. Maybe New Yorkers are already so jaded that news teams don't try to make it worse.

Health Advisory: The NYC Health Department is distributing 70,000 copies of its "how-to" heroin guide, aimed at telling heroin users how to inject themselves safely. Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the Health Department's flier, "Take Charge, Take Care." I don't know if using a needle properly qualifies as "taking charge," but I guess you have to start somewhere.


: The nation's capital, not surprisingly, heavily covers government and national security stories.

Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon resigned due to a conviction last month for misappropriating $500 worth of gift cards. Gift cards! She's the poor man's Rod Blagojevich. At least he tried to sell a Senate seat. Go big or go home.


Everyone freaks out about an anticipated snow dusting. The news team covers the story from every angle, real or imagined. Everything else -- combined -- is secondary.

Weather: One news team is panicking, but they don't want viewers to panic. Here's a sampling: "Be aware"; "There may be a dusting to a few inches of snow"; "Not wet [snow], likely it'll blow around. It won't stick, just kind of to the side of the road maybe. Just the kind I like"; "Look at these beautiful grains of snow."

One anchor comments amid all the snow hoopla, "I know the Northerners are making fun of us. We're just Southern pansies."


Overview: A lot of crime and a bit of everything else in Chicago.

Health Advisory: One reporter advises viewers: "Staying single means staying skinny." Now that is really bad news for every overweight single chick in Chicago.

Part II of this story lists the Top Five most miserable news cities.