Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The private lives of politicians

The National Journal's Chuck Todd asks if the media have crossed a line in their reporting of politicians.

Kimberly Dozier, day 3

A series of stories is available at CBSNews.com. The wounded CBS News reporter is responsive, but her recovery will be very lengthy.

No more tomorrows at Today

Katie Couric says goodbye. I likely will add additional links to this posting.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006

An important lesson for young television journalists

The next time (which very well might be the first time for younger journalists) that a news operation asks you to sign a non-compete clause, consider this

The London Times is crossing the pond

Read about it here, courtesy of Business Week.

(Kind of a shame you can only be in the New York metro area to get a hard copy.)

More lacrosse on TV?

As I write this, the men's lacrosse national semifinals are taking place. The semifinals and finals are taking place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where the Eagles play their home games.

It appears from the various television angles that most of the seats are filled, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that with the exception of college football no other men's championship event has a higher attendance than lacrosse. (Logic tells me that claim must be based on where the men's college basketball final four is held, but I digress.)

Lacrosse has certainly has received some negative attention of late because of the accusation that three white members of the Duke men's team sexually assualted an African-American woman. Setting that aside for a moment, if you look at the well-attended national semifinals, the economic power that the men and women who attend the event have, and the insatiable appetite cable television has for college sports, then the question is asked: Why isn't there more lacrosse on television?

A television programming person would have an answer. Anyone fit that bill?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The media fascination with Al Gore

Six years ago...

Al Gore was stiff, boring, lacking in emotion, dull, hampered by Bill Clinton...you name it.

Today...

Al Gore is electric, passionate, committed, and the one person who many Democrats think can slow down the speeding train that is the (so far non-)candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

What gives? How did Gore morph into a Democratic dynamo? Perhaps he hasn't. Perhaps what is going on here is "spin", and spin that is being bought by and played out in the media. I'm sure the people who are convinced journalists love liberals and will do anything to derail Republican efforts at political success this year and in 2008 are saying Gore is enjoying a media honeymoon. No critical questions about anything he has done since he left political office. (As an aside, and this should not be interpreted as a political statement, my sense is much of what he has done has been positive and successful.) Moreover, they are saying Democrats are uneasy about Clinton's ability to win the general election and are going to push Gore to the top of the heap in an effort to give the party a name that can win in 2008.

Regardless of whether this aforementioned argument is true, I see it a different way. I see the fascination with Al Gore as further evidence that the national media have written off George Bush. Second term presidents inevitably become lame ducks, afterthoughts, etc, as attention turns to the people who will next occupy the White House. But for Bush, the lame duck status has come very early and, if you buy my argument, ensures that he will little chance to use his political office to rally GOP voters in 2006. (Considering his current poll numbers, might this be a good thing for the Republicans?)

Perhaps Gore is more dynamic than he was in 2000. Perhaps he is more qualified to be president than he was then. Perhaps he will run in 2008. Regardless, media attention has turned to the future. Gore will enjoy a lengthy period in which others (and perhaps he) tout the virtues of a Gore presidency. But don't forget that Clinton will enjoy the same lack of scrutiny. John Kerry and the other likely Democrats also will.

In short, I don't necessarily accept the rationale that the liberal media are rallying around their guy. But I do think that the focus on the president and the White House is rapily decreasing, and if that is so then presidential contenders on both sides ought to make appointments with their spin doctors and get a prescription for "media coverage."

VOA is MIA in Baghdad

Very interesting piece by Howard Kurtz about the absence of the Voice of America in Baghdad.

Gibson in; Vargas out; ABC WNT anchor shuffle

The decision by ABC News to dump Elizabeth Vargas from the anchor desk of World News Tonight certainly has people upset. You can read one perspective here. You can add the Washington Post to those who say the situation was handled poorly by ABC News executives. Read more here.

The New York Observer says the promotion of Charlie Gibson to the anchor desk confirms that the "new" lineup of evening anchors is now set. Read more here.

And perhaps there needs to be a more concrete recognition that the decision to remove Vargas might have been based on ratings -- remember that ABC WNT dropped to third (meaning last) among the three evening newscasts. This information concerned ABC executives, and anyone who has spent any time in a television newsroom will tell you ratings are almost slavishly adhered to.

The drop to No. 3 could easily have been the trigger that led ABC executives to say the time was "now" to make the change and bring in Gibson.

The e-mails and videotapes never lie

And they might have a Florida television reporter in a heap of trouble. Read the report here from the St. Pete Times.

What makes a successful front page?

The American Journalism Review suggests an answer

Friday, May 19, 2006

BU Dean, Part 3

The Boston Globe reports that the Boston University provost and journalism department chair are at odds about how to continue with the investigation into the resume questions surrounding the communications school dean.

For sale sign out at CBS Radio

35 smaller-market stations to be sold. Read more here.

The safety of journalists...from the Iraqi perspective

Interesting story in the Washington Times.

BellSouth tells USAToday to retract a story

The phone company is upset with a report suggesting it turned over customer telephone records as part of an NSA investigation. Click here to read the Reuters story.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

BU dean's resume, part 2

An admission...and a claim. The report from the Boston Globe.

Some BU faculty say PU to the resume of one dean

Specifically, the faculty of the journalism department at Boston University want to know if the dean of the Communications School inflated his resume. The story in the Boston Globe.

Convergence...a disaster waiting to happen?

The Miami Herald's Edward Wasserman states his case.

...

And the (negative) reaction.

CBS drops ABC into the basement...

...of the network television ratings. The report from USA Today.

Tony Snow, Day One...

I'm back at it...after a few days break at the end of my semester and some time to relax. Multiple posts today...beginning with commentary about Tony Snow's first day as White House Press Secretary. This story is from the Washington Post.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

ESPN, take note...

A comment from my 7-year-old...

"I like ESPN News more than SportsCenter. ESPN News doesn't talk as much. They give me the highlights."

Talkative anchors? Rambling guests? Hmmm...maybe ESPN needs to re-think what comes out of the "mothership"?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Codes of ethics

The Radio-Television News Directors Association has a code of ethics that is worth following, and one that I try to incorporate into my upper division classes. I was scanning the English-language Web site for Al-Jazeera and found that the network also has established a code of ethics. Perhaps both are worth considering and comparing.

Blogs and education

Dr. Mohamed Taher has taken a solid look at blogs and education. You can access his blog here

Monday, May 08, 2006

A challenge to young journalists...

Jerry Ceppos was honored last week with the Carr Van Anda award by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. (Sidenote -- I received my Ph.D. from Scripps.)

In his recognition speech, Ceppos challenged young journalists to remember the importance of fairness...for themselves and the people they regularly deal with.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

As I watched the graduates go by...

...I couldn't help but wonder what would become of the men and women whom I had only a year to meet, teach, and learn from. Point Park University, where I have just completed my first year of teaching, held its annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, and, as you might expect, I watched the men and women receiving their journalism degrees very closely.

Their professional interests include broadcast journalism. But that's not true of all of them; there are some who appear almost indifferent as to whether they will remain in the journalism world. This does not surprise me. I graduated with people who had no apparent interest in securing a long-term professional career in broadcasting. I also have watched other people whom I have taught opt to never seek an opportunity in journalism.

I asked a couple of colleagues during a recent convention why it is that people would spend four (and in some cases more) years completing a degree they were not going to fully put to use. In the end I think it comes down to one of three scenarios:

1. At some point in their academic careers students decide that journalism has lost its appeal, but because they are inching ever closer to graduation they opt to not delay graduation by changing majors;

2. Any undergraduate degree is merely a necessary step to getting into graduate school. As such, communications appears to be multi-faceted and one that can be put to use in various disciplines;

3. Journalism appeared easy; it wasn't math, it wasn't science, it wasn't something that appeared fail-able (pardon the terrible word choice here).

We've heard the jokes about "what do you do with an English degree?" That doesn't apply to what we teach -- journalism IS a degree you CAN do something with. Perhaps I shouldn't take it hard or even remotely personally when I wonder why it is that journalism educators lose some of the men and women we think can be strong journalists. But I do.

Maybe I should ask them "why."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

CNN's partial definition of "Latest News"

Generally speaking, I am a defender of CNN, and someone who believes that it does a credible job of covering news. However, I saw something on its Website this morning that left me scratching my head.

Under its "Latest News" link, CNN promoted the following stories: "'Idol' dumps another wannabe, leaving 4" and "'Lost' shocker: Shots ring out, what next?"

Perhaps my definition of news is a bit too narrow, but what happens on "American Idol" and "Lost" is not news.

Your opinion is welcomed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Using Blogs as a Teaching Device

As readers of this blog know, I served on a panel that examined using blogs as a teaching device at last week's Broadcast Education Association national convention. I summarize here the arguments for and against using blogs as a teaching tool. Recognize that in no way should this be considered a universal list of reasons.

Arguments for:
Young people are using this technology; they might not read as much as we would like them to, but they do blog (and love pods)!!
Can foster creativity and expression; if this gets students to write, think, analyze; why not use it?
Cheap; can be set up for no money and be used in a variety of ways
Errors, omissions, biases, etc. can be caught

Arguments against:
Small audiences
Staying power?
Deciphering the junk from the credible

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration rallies

As you watch media coverage of today's immigration rallies taking place across the country, keep an eye on how the debate about immigration is framed. As I see it, there are two possible strands...

1. Men and women working to ensure that the American dream is made available to the latest set of people who seek it;

2. Men and women comparing their efforts to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Of course, if there are disturbances, the media focus will change.