Monday, August 31, 2009

Will the + turn out to be a -

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is starting a new, for-fee Web site this week. The paper will continue to offer much of its news content for free.

That means the new PG+ has an air of Times Select, the disastrous attempt by the New York Times to gain a toehold into monetizing its Web site. The guess here is that PG+ won't be around long.

The on-going Pennsylvania state budget crisis

Taking a break from the e-mail, phone calls and student class needs, I ducked out of the office for a few minutes. As I hit the streets, I heard the unmistakable sounds of childrens' voices.

Nearby to Point Park University is a YWCA, where outside today a group of perhaps 25 "little people" and their teachers were holding a "Save Our Daycare" rally.

The students and teachers chanted "Save Our Daycare...Make Some Noise," as they encouraged motorists to honk their horns in support of keeping day care a fundamental part of the state budget. (Mind you, Pennsylvania is now in its 62nd day without a state budget and there are no signs from Harrisburg, the state capital, that any deal is imminent.)

I don't know when the rally started, but what disappointed me is that I saw no media during the few minutes I spent outside. Perhaps they were there earlier. But I'll certainly be looking to see if these kids -- and I doubt any of them were older than 5 -- and their teachers made it into or onto the news.

$8 million

That's the figure...and when it involves public expenditures, you can bet some elected official is going to be concerned.

This time, it's the Pittsburgh City Council, which believes it is receiving mixed messages about the funding allowances for the G-20 Summit.

Iraq was Mr. Bush's war...

...and Afghanistan will be Mr. Obama's.

There are many pitfalls to fighting there, and the British and the Soviets can certainly provide historical evidence to suggest winning is no guarantee.

For now, public opinion -- at least to some degree -- is on Mr. Obama's side. However, absent a cohesive policy, that will change. So, too, will images of American soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins. And keeping the media on his side wouldn't hurt the president, either.

Saw that one coming

No surprise here -- the Democrats are expected to lose a sizable portion of their majority in the House (and perhaps a Senate seat or two) in 2010.

Republicans are sure to pounce on a campaign theme that GOP wins are the result of America not accepting the Obama/Democrats agenda. Maybe. But history also tells us that the "out" party makes gains in midterm elections, and in 2010 that was perhaps more inevitable than at any time.

Barack Obama swept to power in 2008 because he was new, energetic and promised fresh ideas. But there also was the more basic "I'm not voting for a Republican" mentality among voters. Such a mentality with "Democrat" substituting for "Republican" will be evident in 2010.

Unless the Republicans come up with coherent policy ideas, their success in 2010 almost certainly will be short-lived.

Japan shifts left

Why you should care.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

And now fearless NFL predictions

Your thoughts and opinions are welcomed:

NFC division winners:
Arizona
Minnesota
Carolina
New York

NFC Wild Card winners:
Philadelphia
Dallas

AFC division winners:
San Diego
Pittsburgh
Tennessee
New England

AFC Wild Card winners:
Baltimore
Miami

NFC Championship Game:
New York over Arizona

AFC Championship Game:
San Diego over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl:

If it's these two teams, I might not watch.

Your fearless predictions for the college football season

Will any of these prove to be correct? To borrow a tired cliche, time will tell. For now, enjoy the prognosticating...and offer your opinions:

The (alleged) National Championship Game (I say "alleged" because in the absence of a true national championship playoff, a one-game match-up doesn't deserve the name):

Florida vs. Texas, and I hope I'm wrong on both counts but right now the two best teams are obvious.

The Rose Bowl (still no better place to be on January 1 or any other date)

USC vs. Ohio State, and I'd rather see USC playing in the game above and Penn State here. An early-season match-up in Columbus likely will go to the Buckeyes, but by time they meet again in January USC will be a stronger team. Don't be surprised if one of these teams comes into this game without a loss.

The Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma vs. Texas Christian, and the game could very well be determined by the Sooners' commitment to being here. And am I the only one who would love another Oklahoma-Boise State game?

The Sugar Bowl

Alabama vs. Oregon, and after the Crimson Tide's "wonderful" performance in that game one year ago, it's time for this team to prove its worth.

The Orange Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia, and I know I'm going against the grain that says give the automatic bids to Virginia Tech, the consensus favorite in the ACC, and Cincinnati from the Big East.

Another newspaper spirals toward bankruptcy

This time it's the Orange County Register, but the paper is expected to continue publishing.

Surprising? It shouldn't be. The sick economy of the past year has served to put added pressure on the newspaper (and media) industry. It is important to remember that when a newspaper continues to operate during bankruptcy proceedings that the public continues to receive information. It is when the newspaper shuts down -- and for any financial reason -- that the public is especially not served.

An oversimplified argument? Probably. But at the core, it's correct, presuming the bankruptcy doesn't lead to an eradication of the personnel needed to cover news.

An election landslide

Preliminary results from Japan indicate that long-time ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is heading for a washout. Its defeat had been projected for weeks. Politico's Mike Allen examines what it means:

Japanese voters went to the polls Sunday tin a ballot expected to tip the incumbent Liberal Democratic Party from power.

Reuters reports: 'Media surveys suggested the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) could win the lower house election by a landslide in what would be a political earthquake in Japan...A DPJ victory would end more than 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and break a deadlock in parliament, where the opposition and its allies won control of the less powerful upper chamber in 2007 and can delay bills.

'Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama, the wealthy 62-year-old grandson of a former prime minister, told voters on Saturday the election would change Japanese history...'This is an election to choose whether voters can muster the courage to do away with the old politics.'

WHAT IT MEANS FOR US: Clinton admin veteran and almost-ambassador to Japan Joseph Nye emails, 'The polls predict a big victory for the DPJ. That has led to some concerns about possible effects on US-Japan relations. The DPJ is a diverse coalition with little government experience (only a few of its leaders had served in LDP governments.) Moreover, its campaign has spoken about a more 'equal' relationship with the US, and Hatoyama's op-ed last week about an East Asian community and skepticism about globalization raised a few eyebrows. However, while there will be some frictions accompanying a change of government, I do not think there will be a serious effect on US-Japan relations. When I met with DPJ leaders last December, I was impressed by their underlying realism about the importance of the American alliance.'

Saturday, August 29, 2009

As I watch the funeral Mass for Sen. Kennedy...

...I'm reminded again that the rituals of the Catholic Church are precious. A funeral Mass is sad, but the choir, the blessings, the prayers and more uplift the spirit. Rest in Peace, Senator. You served your nation well.

Another example of being out of touch with reality

After reading this, you are free to disagree with me. But I think the NRA is wrong this time.

For what it's worth

Today is the 1-year anniversary of McCain announcing that Palin would be his running mate.

H1N1

A story worth your time and attention...especially if you know young people.

A bit too close to home

This fire story hits a bit too close to home: I attended St. Francis High School, in La Canada, CA. Reading about the fire there this morning saddens me.

Name/policy association

For what it's worth.

When I think of ___________, I think ____________

1. JFK, Space
2. Richard Nixon, China
3. Ted Kennedy, Civil Rights
4. Ronald Reagan, Cold War
5. Margaret Thatcher, Falklands War
6. George H.W. Bush, Iraq
7. George W. Bush, Iraq
8. Jimmy Carter, Energy conservation
9. Bill Clinton, Welfare reform
10. Vladimir Putin, The "near"-abroad
11. Hu Jintao, Tibet
12. Kim Jong-il, Bereft of ideas

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good pub!

That would be publicity, and it's for a new graduate program available at Point Park University.

The never-ending saga to bring...

...peace to the Middle East is on the mind of at least one columnist at the Financial Times.

More questions for the military...

...about its (on the surface, peculiar) policy of reviewing the stories submitted to U.S. media organizations by journalists covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This military effort smacks of trying to control the news, and it's especially odd that such a policy would by used under an Obama administration that has spoken of the need for transparency in government.

No sellout = no NFL local broadcast

And that dilemma might be facing multiple NFL teams and local television stations with the season just two weeks away.

No, there's no surprise why the tickets -- to this point -- haven't sold out: economics.

Cut Nielsen...to save jobs

One Wisconsin television station has dropped its subscription to Nielsen, the organization that does the television ratings.

You'll see a couple of reasons offered in the aforementioned article. I'd like to believe that the "saving two employees" is the real reason, but I'm inclined to think it's something else.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kennedy -- the education advocate

Among the many accolades that Sen. Ted Kennedy earned (and deserved) was that of a champion for higher education. As this report and this story note, finding a current senator who shares that passion might be difficult. And higher education could be the loser.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to break someone

The CIA's release of "how to do it" is sure to inflame the discussion about officially sanctioned techniques for dealing with terror suspects.

Turn all newspapers into non-profits?

At first blush, it sounds ridiculous, but there are some valid arguments for at least considering the idea.

H1N1 hits two Pennsylvania universities

The numbers by themselves are not alarming, at least to me. But what should be of concern is that the worst of the flu season is nowhere near upon us, and we're already seeing cases of H1N1 on U.S. college campuses.

Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State are among those reporting cases. These cases, and there will be many others, illustrate why colleges and universities are being as proactive as they can -- there is a legitimate worry that college classes and extracurricular activities could be affected throughout the academic year.

The passing of Ted Kennedy

This is the e-mail that went out early this morning. It was sent to, among other media organizations, Politico; and it is from that organization that I am "borrowing" this information:

'Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him.'

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A journalistic litmus test?

I'll let you decide as you read this. Let's just say that my suspicions are there. For now, we'll leave it at that.

Punish the CIA! Punish the CIA!

Nonsense.

The issue of who (if anyone) deserves to be prosecuted as a result of the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan became moot when President Obama indicated that no one from the Bush White House would be subjected to such investigations.

Going after the CIA -- the people who executed the orders given to them from the Executive Branch -- sets a precedent that this country does not want to consider. Imagine the fear that any CIA (or military, for that matter) operative will have in the back of his or her mind if such an investigation is allowed to go forward. He or she in the future would be hesitant to carry out any executive order for fear of being prosecuted if that order is found to be illegal.

Don't misunderstand me -- I'm NOT suggesting a whitewash of any review of the policies pursued by the Bush administration. I'm merely saying that the people who carried out the orders ought not be punished for what they were told to do.

Politics can indeed be a dirty business...

...and international politics can be even dirtier. This editorial sizes up why the decision to release a convicted bomber affects far more than the people directly involved and indirectly affected.

A blogger is outed...and she's suing

An interesting case for bloggers, journalism educators and students to follow -- what happens when a court orders a company to identify a heretofore anonymous blogger? The case will move forward soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

You talk...they listen

Popular FOX talk-show host Glenn Beck suggested President Obama is a racist...and his advertisers have listened: Many of them are abandoning him.

Now, let's not forget that this is an orchestrated attempt on the part of liberal groups to undermine Beck. But also don't forget that Beck brought his problems upon himself. Sometimes being a bit too blunt can hurt where it really hurts.

Tackling H1N1

If the H1N1 virus does become a serious problem this fall and/or winter, then no one should say they never saw it coming.

The Obama administration and various health agencies have made a clear point: The potential is there for this flu to be especially troublesome, and especially for certain groups of people.

Today was the latest example of the administration's effort to get out the "be smart" message. Of course, with the summer winding down and students heading back to school, messages urging people to be vigilant can get lost.

If they do, don't blame the White House, or the World Health Organization, or the Centers for Disease Control. And definitely don't say the media aren't covering this story.

Harry Reid...out of the Senate, out of a job?

Far-fetched? Maybe not. The following is an excerpt from Tim Grieve's "The Huddle" on Politico.com:

For all the talk about the Republicans' failure to find a top-flight candidate to take on the Senate majority leader . . . maybe they don't need one.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports on a new Mason-Dixon poll:

'Either Republican Danny Tarkanian or Sue Lowden would knock out Reid in a general election, according to a recent poll of Nevada voters.

'The results suggest the Democratic Senate majority leader will have to punch hard and often in order to retain his position as the most accomplished politician in state history, in terms of job status.

'Nevadans favored Tarkanian over Reid 49 percent to 38 percent and Lowden over Reid 45 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll.'

The paper cautions that it's early – it is – and that Reid will have national forces helping him drive up voter turnout. On the other hand, Mason-Dixon managing director Brad Coker cautions that Reid probably won't be the draw that Obama was in 2008.

'If Obama didn't register them, good luck,' Coker said. 'It is going to be harder to turn them out for Harry Reid than it was for Barack Obama. I suspect some of that might be the charisma quotient.'


As I've said before, too many people are drawing the conclusion that President Obama is moving too quickly and/or his party is in disarray. In that context, a Republican series of victories in 2010 ought not necessarily be considered "the country is turning right," as much as it should be "the country is telling the Democrats to straighten up."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Myth also can be stranger than fiction

What the newspaper industry -- and its many supporters -- report, and what is reality. Interesting stuff.

Yeah, now that's bipartisanship (NOT!)

If the excerpt from this Bloomberg News story proves to be true, then we can officially declare as dead the president's goal for a bipartisan spirit in Washington.

'President Barack Obama is likely in September to end Democratic efforts to work with Republicans on health-care legislation and press for a party-line vote if the stalemate on the issue in the U.S. Senate persists, a person close to the White House said. The president and his advisers have started devising a strategy to pass a measure by relying only on the Democratic majority in each house of Congress, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In a separate interview, former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said Obama is losing patience with negotiations between three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, the only congressional panel seeking a bipartisan consensus on a plan to remake the nation's health- care system. 'He's waited and waited,' Daschle said [Friday] after meeting with the president. 'He has indicated, much to the chagrin of people in his party, that virtually everything's on the table. And he's gotten almost nothing in return for it.' A move by Democrats to seek a partisan bill may provoke a backlash from Republicans and weaken public support for the health-care overhaul, Obama's top domestic priority. It might also result in watered-down legislation.'

The media are sure to pounce on any pretense of a lack of bipartisanship, especially if it is emanating from the White House. It also will embolden the Republicans, who are sure to argue that the president cares about nothing than getting his big-government legislation passed.

However, I would remind everyone that the Republicans did much the same thing when they held the levers of power. Such is the joy of "leadership" in Washington these days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A reasonable compromise

That's my conclusion after determining how the city of Pittsburgh decided what to do with the demands of protesters and the requirements of safety as the G-20 summit moves ever closer.

Of course, the protesters want more, and they have a valid claim: freedom of speech. Undoubtedly, police officials wanted less, and they have a valid concern: safety. At the end of the day, the reasonable demands of both sides appear to have been met.

Looking for that first radio gig?

This event might be worth your time and attention.

Private colleges

From Bloomberg News:

'Private colleges may price themselves out of the market if they don't hold down tuition increases, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. Parents and students will choose among universities offering 'no-frill campuses' and three-year degree programs over those whose prices 'get out of whack with reality,' Duncan said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's 'Political Capital With Al Hunt,' airing today. The average tuition at private four-year colleges increased 5.9 percent to $25,143 in the 2008-2009 school year, according to the New York-based College Board. 'At a time when going to college has never been more important, it's never been more expensive,' Duncan said.'

Maybe. But public universities are facing equal pressure to keep tuition in line because of the short-sighted decisions of various state legislatures to cut funding for higher education.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Deflecting criticism from Scotland?

I've periodically watched media coverage over the past 24 hours, to see how the mainstream media would report the Scottish government's decision to release the Libyan behind the Lockerbie plane bombing.

The man is terminally ill, and the Scottish government maintains that the release was based on humanitarian grounds. That decision has been met with outrage in Washington, London and most vocally by the families of those who died.

Under the surface there are reports continuing to bubble up that indicate the man's release was based purely on economics -- the United Kingdom is seeking to improve its relations with Libya, now that Tripoli has renounced terrorism. That claim has been denied by London.

What I've been looking to see is how the media would cover Scotland and Libya. There have been pointed questions about the Scottish decision, but my sense is that the images of the hero's welcome the bomber received are the real focus of the story.

It's not hard to see why. On one hand, the visuals from Libya trump the images from Scotland. People celebrating and raucous crowds play well on television; serious looking government spokespeople do not. But Scotland remains one of "us;" it's a democracy with deep roots in the West. Libya remains -- at best -- a murky place; at worst, it still is the home of a paranoid political leader and government system.

Over the next 24 to 48 hours, I expect there to be more "official" statements criticizing Libya and calling for its government to not treat the bomber as some kind of hero. Calls for him to receive something akin to house arrest also might enter media discourse. Along the same lines, I anticipate muting of the criticism of the Scottish government.

The "official" line will be important to hear, and to see if it is adopted by the media as the "storyline."

Racial stereotyping...by the media??

A prominent state governor hinted at that today...and that meant he was immediately forced to backtrack from his comments.

When these accusations are made and are accompanied by broad statements (with no specific examples), I am always left to wonder what the person was thinking when he or she first opened his or her mouth.

Guaranteed to make you laugh

Got this gem from a friend of mine:

Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew all about it.

If any mischief occurred in their town, the two boys were probably involved. The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak
with her boys.

The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually. So the mother sent the 8 year old first in the morning, with the older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon.

The preacher, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, 'Do you know where God is, son?'

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.

So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, 'Where is God?'

Again, the boy made no attempt to answer. The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, 'Where is God?'

The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, 'What happened?'

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, 'We are in BIG trouble this time,' (I just LOVE reading this next line again and again)

'GOD is missing, and they think we did it.'
________________________________________

Vain Valdimir

The Financial Times continues its recent criticism of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin in this editorial.

What do we do if...

...H1N1 strikes our campus?

A legitimate question that is being discussed by administrators on college campuses all across the country. Two government agencies are seeking to help college leaders make the important decisions about planning.

A Republican revival...

...or a Democratic demise?

Looks more like the latter, according to an excerpt from Tim Grieve's "The Huddle," which appears on Politico.com:

'Today, The Cook Political Report's Congressional election model, based on individual races, is pointing toward a net Democratic loss of between six and 12 seats, but our sense, factoring in macro-political dynamics is that this is far too low,' Charlie C. writes. 'Many veteran Congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats.'

A loss of Democratic seats, in the opinion of this blogger, should serve as a tell-tale warning to the Obama administration that its efforts to tackle a multitude of problems has confused and concerned the electorate. The constant drum-beat of stories that indicate the Democrats are divided over policy provides further evidence to these concerned voters that the party's leadership is fractured and that the rank-and-file Congressional members are out of touch.

Recent political polls validate this dampening of support for the president.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well now, that's not very nice!

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that various Afghan journalists were attacked by government officials today. Why? For covering the unrest associated with the national elections.

The restriction of professional journalists attempting to do their jobs will always cause consternation (and worse) in Western news organizations and in non-profit agencies that respect media freedom. And well it should. Under no circumstances in any democracy, should professional journalists face restrictions from their government in doing their jobs.

Another school closing because of the G-20

Pittsburgh's public schools will close during the Sept. 24 and 25 G-20 summit.

The decision by the school district means that those schools along with Point Park University, Duquesne University, the Community College of Allegheny County system and the downtown branch of Robert Morris University will be shuttered during the summit.

There is an interesting story here for Pittsburgh's student media to cover: what will parents do on the days their elementary, middle or high school child is not in school?

Another effect of the global economic downturn...

...can be seen when examining the number of international students attending U.S. colleges, which overall remain the best in the world. As you might expect, the number of such students is down, as the 2009-2010 academic year begins.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Details! I need details!

That's the cry of many people in Pittsburgh, as residents, businesses and others attempt to make logistical and other plans for the G-20.

Unfortunately, those details are not coming fast. The latest example of that happened today.

The passing of (another CBS News) legend

CBSNews.com reports Don Hewitt has passed away.

Hewitt was the creator of 60 Minutes, which remains the staple news magazine program. While the programs that have followed on other networks have too quickly "dumbed down" the idea of serious news coverage, 60 Minutes has retained its top of the line commitment to delivering investigative reporting.

More details to come.

The Afghan media stand up to their government

The Afghan media have told their government "no."

The government requested that the domestic media not cover or report incidents of violence when Afghans go to the polls tomorrow, which is election day. The media have said they will not.

Good for them.

H1N1 and teaching

I came across this story this morning, and while I hope we don’t face an H1N1 flu outbreak this fall or winter, it is wise to think about how we would teach (if we caught it) or reach our students (if they caught it).

The Asian arms race...

...is heating up. The series of missile tests by the North Korean government -- in and of themselves -- amounted to little. However, they served to ratchet up the tension and the military plans for its neighbors.

And that explains why South Korea is moving forward with its own test, even though it plans to start a dialogue with Pyongyang on the long-term peace and stability of that part of the world.

As you mull over that, also examine this report from The New York Times that outlines how former President Clinton's visit to North Korea earlier this month, when he arranged for the release of two jailed American journalists, also could contribute to better diplomatic possibilities.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Remember Alycia Lane?

The much-discussed, controversial former Philadelphia news anchor is about to begin a new job...and in an even larger market than the one she was forced out of.

The line between a blogger as reporter...

...and blogger as activist should be a clear one. But in the context of the Middle East, where the rules pertaining to what the media can do, report or say is far different from the Western understanding of such terms, the activist faces more than just being criticized by his or her peers.

Ugh.

Much like the ill-fated and poorly developed merger of AOL and Time Warner, Sam Zell's ownership of the Chicago Tribune will be among the "top stories" when any conversation turns to the bad examples of media ownership in the late 1900s and early 2000s.

Unfortunately, while Zell will remain a rich man, the people who work for him will remain in a perilous situation.

Thanks, Sam.

The KGB has never officially existed!

Okay, you are thinking that Anthony has firmly and completely gone over the deep end. Uh, no.

But for the Class of 2013, that is true. That gem and others are part of the annual Beloit College list of what has always been true for this year's college freshmen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The SEC refuses (for now) to embrace one form of social networking

The Southeastern Conference deserves a 10-yard penalty for holding (back social media). The conference is moving forward with plans to ban social networking, including Twitter, from its football stadiums.

An interesting discussion about this policy, its ramifications and whether it can be enforced was discussed online and in-person tonight at the Twitter chat #journchat.

In my opinion, the SEC is attempting to protect its lucrative radio and television contracts. (Going from memory, it signed a $1.3 billion, multi-year deal with CBS Sports and ESPN for TV broadcast rights.)

However, in its zeal to protect the TV rights, the league is demonstrating a complete lack of common sense: Social media should not be viewed as a threat to the product; in fact, it ought to be viewed as a means of expanding the product.

I understand that late this evening the SEC's Twitter page announced it was "clarifying" its position vis-a-vis the ban. Ironic, isn't it? A social networking site is being used to announce a position regarding the non-use of social networking.

It's not just a series of Pittsburgh colleges and universities...

...that will close for the G-20 summit. So, too, might all 66 of the city's public schools. That decision will be made later this week.

I'm not an advocate for closing schools unless weather or some natural disaster is involved. However, common sense ought to rule the day when other circumstances arise. (For example, if a local school serves as the voting station for a community, I wouldn't want school in session on that particular day.) And the G-20 summit is one of those circumstances for which common sense needs to take over.

Paying for news content on the Web

You've heard me beat this drum before: The time is rapidly approaching when sizable numbers of newspapers (and perhaps broadcast entities as well) will charge for access to their online information.

One paper -- the Financial Times -- has been doing it since 2002. (Betcha didn't know that!) And its model is one that other publications are closely examining.

If you want to "tweet"...

...then don't get caught making these mistakes.

Tonight the Point Park University School of Communication is co-hosting a Twitter event. Beginning at 7:30 (EDT), be sure to go to Twitter and join in the conversation at #journchat.

Here are some additional details, which are "borrowed liberally" from the press release outlining the event:

The mission of #journchat, founded by Chicago PR professional Sarah Evans, is to improve relationships between public relations pros, journalists and bloggers. #journchat happens Monday nights via Twitter. Participants interact by Tweeting with each other on a variety of topics given by a moderator. Each Tweet is tagged with “#journchat” so it is easy to find on Twitter.

For the August 17 #journchat, Pittsburgh and six other cities across the U.S. and Canada (Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Toronto) will simultaneously host #journchat LIVE. Each LIVE event will bring together dozens of journalists, PR pros and bloggers face to face. Each LIVE event will also have a #journchat champion who will facilitate discussion and document the experience via social media. The LIVE events will also incorporate questions generated by the #journchat moderator and participants in the online community. Those unable to attend in person can participate using computers or mobile devices by following the #journchatpgh tag and Twitter account http://twitter.com/journchatpgh or http://www.ustream.tv/channel/journchatpgh to watch the live video stream. The Twitter chat and video will be archived for those unable to attend in person or virtually.


If you are on Twitter, you can follow me at morettiphd.

A promotion

I'm the acting chair for the department of journalism within the School of Communication.

I struggled with the words I wanted to use to write this blog. On one hand, I'm trying to express the excitement about this news (which was announced late last week while I was visiting family in New York), but on the other hand I'm humbled and somewhat stunned at the selection.

As regular readers of this blog know, the School of Communication at Point Park has undergone some important changes in the past year. Among the highlights was hiring our founding dean -- Dr. Tim Hudson, who most recently was at East Carolina University. He offered me the acting chair position, which I didn't expect, after speaking to all the faculty about personnel ideas for 2009 and beyond.

The "acting" designation recognizes that for the 2009-2010 academic year, the school's administrators and faculty want to ensure that we have the long-term structure we want in place. If all goes well, the "acting" title will be replaced by "oh, no, we're stuck with him" sometime next summer :-)

My colleagues at Point Park are some of the neatest folks you'll find in any department/school/college of journalism or mass communication. I'm humbled by the confidence they have in me. I hope I can live up to their standards.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holy cow, that's fast

Usain Bolt blasted the field today and won the 100-meters at the World Championships. But his win was timed at 9.58 seconds...and no one has ever run that race in that time. Watch it here.

A twist

I didn't see this one coming -- the Myanmar government has released on humanitarian grounds the American citizen who visited Aung San Suu Kyi.

Of course, she remains under house arrest. It appears no internal or international advocate will be allowed to meet with the government to press for her release.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rush and Rove...on Family Guy???

What the deuce??? I read this story with more than a bit of interest, in part because I like the show ("Giggity") and because I can't wait to see how the Republicans are treated by the show's producers.

I can understand why Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove would appear on the show -- think of the demographics that the show it appeals to, and how those people voted in the 2008 presidential election? Yes, there is no question that an attempt to engage these people in ANY form of political communication underscores the appearance on the popular show.

Home!

The fall semester at Point Park University begins in two weeks, but anyone who has spent time in education will tell you the term in reality starts weeks before that.

After spending two of the past three weeks at academic conventions, and then a week of fun with the family...it's time for my semester to really get going.

When I turned the minivan onto my street tonight, there was a sense of relief -- being away from home almost always is fun, but there is nothing like being home. A quasi-day off tomorrow...and then let's go!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Point Park University to close during G-20 summit

As expected, Point Park University president Paul Hennigan announced today that the university will close because of the G-20 summit.

There will be no classes from Wednesday, Sept. 23 through Saturday, Sept. 26. In addition, students living in the dorms will be asked to leave their rooms from the evening of Sept. 22 through midday on Sept. 27.

I've mentioned on this blog before that I thought closing was the wisest course of action; the idealist in me would love to have had the opportunity to ensure that our classes met and that our students continued to function during the summit. But the realist in me knew that holding classes was impractical and potentially not safe.

If you are not familiar with the location of Point Park, then you should know that it is located in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh and less than one mile from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the world leaders will gather for the summit.

Moreover, the expected number (and potential volatility) of protesters puts the university in the middle of what could be a dangerous situation.

Point Park joins Duquesne and the Community College of Allegheny County system in shutting down for the summit.

Jimmy Carter

I read with some interest the results of a Rasmussen Poll indicating that Jimmy Carter is the former and living president that Americans think has done the best job since leaving office.

I've never met Mr. Carter, but I sure would like to. I have found his humanitarian efforts to be the most honorable attempts at improving the world that any former leader has undertaken. And he has done it largely out of the media spotlight. (And I would guess he wants it that way.)

There are a couple of possible reasons to explain the votes for Mr. Carter:
1. He is the least controversial of the four living former Commanders-in-Chief (and yes I recognize that he's written books that have angered political elements in this and other countries)
2. He has remained scandal free since leaving the White House
3. He has not engaged in many overt political actions since leaving Washington.

Former President Clinton finished second in this poll, and he will forever be linked to what he did in office. He was a polarizing figure in office, and it seems as though nothing has changed since then. Likewise, the elder Mr. Bush is tied to the fortunes (or lack of same) of his son, who is perhaps a more polarizing figure than Mr. Clinton.

A challenge for Nielsen

It was inevitable -- media corporations and prominent advertisers would look for a rival to Nielsen Media Research, which has dominated the television ratings and viewing-analysis market for decades.

The combination of these two groups is spot on, as each needs to know more about who is watching and on what platforms.

In the heat of August...

...tempers get short, and opinions become hardened. And right now, as Politico.com's Martin Kady II reports in his "The Huddle" blog, that combination doesn't favor the Democrats:

Nearing the mid-point of the August recess, it's become clear that Democrats have dug themselves a massive halftime deficit.

The question is whether they'll be able to adjust their game plan in the locker room and make a comeback in the second half and gain some momentum heading into the critical month of September.

They'll have to start taking back the momentum at town halls, on the air waves and in the polls – all of which favor the opposition on health care now.


Of course, the White House is fighting back, but it strikes me that as you listen to people talk in various cities there remain deep concerns about how much of a role the government will play, what health care will cost, and how individuals will be affected.

What this tells me is that the opposition forces are succeeding in scuttling needed reform.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pittsburgh continues to ramp up its preps for the G-20 summit

Even though I've been out of town for three of the past four weeks, it is impossible not to note that Pittsburgh is ramping up its preparations for the G-20 summit. Not a day goes by in which the local newspapers or television stations fail to have a story (or follow-up to an older one) about the late September event.

As an educator, I'm especially eager to learn about the opportunities my journalism students will have to cover the various events. One theme that I'm sure they will consider is how their peers throughout the city handle their schools' closings.

To date, all the Community College of Allegheny County campuses and Duquesne University have decided classes will be canceled because of the Sept. 24 and 25 event. The administration at my university is expected to make its announcement tomorrow, and my colleagues and I are anticipating that we, too, will not hold classes during the summit.

This absence of classes is a necessary and prudent decision -- mass transportation will be stressed during the summit, and ordinary traffic will be anything but. School of Communication students already know they should use the "free" time to find stories pertaining to the G-20 and report them on either social or traditional media sites.

We're about five weeks from the summit, and it's impossible to miss the various conversations and plans that are happening.

Another (conservative) Republican hints at a 2012 run

In 2006, Pennsylvania voters booted Rick Santorum from the Senate. In 2012, they might have a chance to decide if they want him to be their president. Santorum is the latest Republican to offer hints that he's a possible presidential contender.

Are Arlen Specter's re-election prospects fading?

On one level, it seems impossible to think that Pennsylvania's senior senator would not win re-election in 2010. But he is facing disgruntled voters throughout Pennsylvania, and a new poll from Rasmussen indicates he is badly trailing Pat Toomey in a hypothetical election matchup.

What has happened? Specter seemed less than a sure thing when he was a Republican, and that knowledge certainly contributed to his decision to switch parties. But Pennsylvanians might have already seen through that party switch and instead are reacting to what he's said and done since then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A city with a baseball team in a pennant race

Last week, it was Boston. This week, it's Philadelphia (and later New York). Three cities with professional baseball teams in a pennant race. It doesn't take much to feel the enthusiasm of the baseball fans in these cities, and it makes me hunger all the more to see Pittsburgh get a contending team as soon as possible.

Listening to people talk about their team (and, yes, talk trash about their main rival) is a hallmark of a great baseball city. And the Boston and Philadelphia fans know their teams have won the last two championships. (When I get to New York, it won't take long for me to be aware that the Yankees have the best record in baseball and stand a solid chance of winning the World Series this year.)

There is belief (and angst) in Boston and Philadelphia about their teams' chances for another championship in 2009. Unfortunately, in Pittsburgh, talk already has turned to the start of the football season. Soon thereafter, the focus will turn to the Penguins, who look to defend the Stanley Cup crown.

Yes, there is a palpable energy when you are in a city with a championship-caliber team.

A wee-bit o' down time never hurts

And that's what my family is enjoying this week...with a one-night stop over in Philadelphia before a few days in New York to visit family.

For "the lads" and "the better half" today marked their first visit to Philadelphia. I have been here before for professional conferences, but I had almost no time in both cases to do any sightseeing.


Of course, the Liberty Bell is a stop any sightseer wants to take in, and the four of us were amazed by it.


For those who have not been to this exhibit before, you should know that there is a great exhibit associated with it.


Nearby is Independence Hall, which I found more historical and more impressive than the Liberty Bell. Our family chose not to do the formal Independence Hall tour, so I can't report what the interior of this and the connected buildings is like.


My wife also enjoyed the Second Bank of the United States, which of course left me wondering where the first one can be found. One of our boys suggested Washington D.C. and that makes perfect sense to me.

An extra 18 months

A court in Burma has sentenced Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional 18 months of house arrest.

The decision stems from the bizarre series of events in which an American citizen swam across a lake to get to her house. That man received a seven-year sentence, four of which will be served as hard labor.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Before your news organization considers charging for its online content...

...it had better have answers to some important questions. A relevant article from the Knight Digital Media Center.

What is happening in Ann Arbor...

...is being watched by a lot of people.

And, no, this has nothing to do with a football game. The stakes are much higher.

Find me a story...any story

This month is the worst for national politicians. In the absence of Congress being in session, the national media scurry to find stories about relevant issues. In doing so, the loudest voices at times are the easiest to turn into news reports.

Thus it should come as no surprise that the media are spending considerable time looking at the town hall meetings and other forums in which public concerns about health care reform, taxes, the national debt or similar issues are being expressed. They are in many ways the "perfect" August story -- unhappy citizens, squirming politicians and the notion of democracy in action.

Yet underneath these protests is a reality -- too many are not spontaneous. Political groups on the left and right have galvanized their forces, and they are showing up at these events. And its doubtful that they are showing up primarily to express their political opinion. Instead too many are going simply to play to the media's need for stories.

You can expect this media theme of "public outcry" to continue. But as you hear it, I urge you to ask how much of it is really outcry and how much of it is attempted outreach.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

"You got served!"

And the one doing the serving was my 10-year-old.

I flew home from Boston early this morning so that I could spend a few hours with some great friends, who were visiting us from Virginia. We took in some sights near or on the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, including lunch at one of our favorite area restaurants.

As we planned our post-lunch plans, I noted that walking the lengthy 1-1/2 blocks from the restaurant to one of the campuses seemed unwise considering the steamy weather Pittsburgh was dealing with today. I suggested walking to one of the cars and driving over.

It was at that point I got served...

"Dad, you don't want to walk the block and a half up, but you are willing to walk the block and a half back to get to the car. Then you'll waste gas and time trying to park."

Our group burst out in laughter, knowing that my son was absolutely right. He then pointed a finger at me and said, "You got served!"

Yup.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

If you are the parents of 2, you'll like this...

...and if you are the parents of two BOYS, then you'll really like it!!

I step into my hotel elevator this morning and standing at the back of it are two young men. I'll guess they are 15 and 12.

The older one says to the younger one: "Yes, but I've never dropped you on your head or anything like that."

The younger one: "But I know you'd do it."

At this point, I break out in laughter. (Sorry, I couldn't help it!) I turned to them and said, "I have two boys. They're 10 and 5. Why do I have this feeling that I'm looking at my future right now?"

The younger one soon gets off on a floor, leaving his brother and me to continue our conversation. "You know," the older one says, "I'm supposed to have him in the lobby right now."

"Hmmm," I say. "What's mom going to think of that when the doors open and you step off alone?"

"We'll see."

Seconds later, we reach the lobby. The doors open, and we wish each other a good day. Standing there is mom. "Where is your brother?" she asks in that "mom" kind of voice.

I just smiled and kept walking. And fearing what my future will be!!

Friday, August 07, 2009

An unexpected...and enjoyable...site

The Boston hotel which is hosting the 2009 AEJMC convention is connected to a mall. I saw a site when I walked into the mall the other night that gave me pause -- the St. Francis Chapel.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am Catholic, but what most people likely won't know is that I attended St. Francis High School in La Canada, California.

So, knowing those two pieces of information you can probably guess that the site of a chapel bearing the name St. Francis was more than enjoyable for me. I took the extra step of walking in today, but I didn't walk in. I was carrying a bottled soft drink and the request for no food or drink in the chapel was something I couldn't ignore.

Now, that doesn't mean I might not be heading over later today or tomorrow. Sometimes a sign of peace can come from the most unusual places.

An interesting lesson in economics

I read this morning the news that the unemployment rate fell last month -- for the first time in a year. However, the economy still lost almost 250,000 jobs in July.

The drop in unemployment is the latest in a series of recent signs indicating that the nation's economy is slowly ticking upward. No one should be naive enough to think that a one-month employment rate shows the end of the near year-old recession; however, we appear to be moving past the worst of the economic morass.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the lobby of a Boston hotel, where the 2009 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication national convention is taking place. I've been fortunate to attend all but one of these conventions since 2001, and because of that I'm able to form a couple of conclusions about this one:

1. My eyeball test tells me there are fewer attendees than in years past. Along the same lines, people who are here this year appear to be staying for only 2 or 3 days.
2. Conversations about faculty travel budgets are on the minds of many people, and I've heard more than one person say that attending next year's convention is no certainty.

It's ironic, in other words, to see good economic news come at the same time that anecdotal evidence indicates colleges and universities are not close to recovering from the past year. And without boring you with the many details, a majority of colleges structure their economic year from October 1 through September 30. Therefore, the concerns that faculty travel will be part of planned cuts for the upcoming year are legitimate.

The further irony, therefore, is that it's possible that a continuing series of economic reports throughout the fall and winter would have no bearing on whether the journalism educators who want to attend this important convention in 2010 will be able to.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

No surprise there

Rupert Murdoch has dropped another hint that it won't be long before all news organizations under his News Corp. umbrella will start charging for online content within one year.

Hello, reality! It won't be long before other news organizations make similar announcements. The idealists, and I'm guilty at times of being one, will complain that the dissemination of news and information on the Web will be affected. And that's true, but idealism doesn't pay the bills.

Advice -- and more -- from the pros

I attended an informative session this morning at the 2009 AEJMC convention that examined how copy editors work and the editing process in general.

There are some general tips that all journalism educators and students ought to consider:
1. Copy editors report that they are editing more stories per night than ever before; this is a direct effect of fewer people working in the newsroom
2. Copy editors also are encouraging students to have a better grasp of their specialty area. In other words, there is a surprising number of political, business, education and other reporters who lack the fundamental understanding of their discipline. With this knowledge base, they would be able to report with more confidence and complexity.
3. The online editing environment remains a work in progress; the standards of the traditional print world don't translate to the online world.
4. Students entering the editing world need to know the technology that they are working with, but...
5. The ability to write well is essential, regardless of the platform on which they are delivering their stories

The second part of the session involved short presentations from (followed by some q-and-a with) Josh Benton, the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard; and David Beard, an editor of Boston.com.

Each noted that the role of an editor is changing (and somewhat rapidly). For example, at a "traditional" newspaper, the editor will do little original writing and reporting. However, at smaller (and online) publications, the editor might be one of three or four paid positions. Therefore, he or she will be called upon to write and/or be an aggregator by synthesizing and highlighting additional information.

In addition, these men suggested that it is incumbent upon news organizations and editors themselves to stop thinking of the editor as simply checking the work of others. Instead, they offered a challenge -- how can an editor think of himself/herself as being truly responsible for/having ownership of the work they do. Certainly some of that comes into play when these men and women are writers, but it also has to be seen as incumbent upon "traditional" editors to see themselves as being a real owner of the content they deliver.

More later from a great day two of the AEJMC convention.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hello...from Boston

I arrived here late this morning for the annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication national convention. I'm in "Beantown" through the weekend.

AEJMC is the largest academic organization of which I am a member. Here, my colleagues and I will be interviewing prospective faculty candidates, attending various research paper and panel sessions and generating some good teaching ideas.

I also am taking part in the "Breakfast of Editing Champions," where I'll be discussing a team-taught editing class that I'm part of at Point Park. I'm also evaluating two research paper sessions.

Going to be a busy few days, but the plan is to take in some sights of this historic and interesting city. This is my third visit to Boston, and I've come to appreciate it more than I did the first time I was here.

The incredibly shrinking...anchor

There is a relevant and necessary teaching moment here -- the previously larger-than-life, well-paid local news anchor is becoming a thing of the past.

It is always intriguing to me when I hear a college student determined to be an anchor...because they want to get rich. I don't hear it as often as I used to, but my reaction hasn't changed.

Why? (UPDATED below)

That question lingers over and haunts as the investigation continues into the deadly shooting at a suburban-area Pittsburgh fitness club.

At some point the "gun debate" will be heard as people argue over how the man got the guns, and how he was able to march into the fitness club and begin his deadly spree. Yes, the people who died last night had no "constitutional right" to death, and (legally) the man who killed them had the "constitutional right" to carry those weapons.

However, there needs to be a realistic conversation in this country about where the right to bear arms ends and where the right to safety begins. I am not advocating for a ban on guns; rather I am saying that a pragmatic approach has to be had.

But in the near term, I want to discuss the local television news coverage that I watched last night. Because I flipped around among all three channels -- KDKA (CBS); WTAE (ABC); and WPXI (NBC) -- there is a chance I missed something that each covered.

The following reactions are in no particular order, meaning point 1 is not more important than point 2 or any point after that.

1. WPXI appeared to have more reporters in the field -- I counted three
2. The live interview WPXI reporter Renee Kaminski did with a woman who was in the dance class that was attacked was outstanding
3. WPXI reporter Tamika Artist consistently reported relevant information from a local hospital where at least five injured people had been taken
4. KDKA showed creativity by turning its chief meteorologist and sports director into news reporters
4. WTAE appeared to be the first on the air, but it also was the first to break for commercials
5. All three stations were careful to not deliver "unconfirmed" information; of course in moments of crisis, the occasional such statement enters into news discourse, but for the most part the stations last night were diligent
6. However, the confusion about the number of dead was troubling -- two stations were reporting one figure, and the third was reporting another

(I'm about to board an airplane; I will continue this post later today)

UPDATE:
7. The stations that had full crews were able to do better television. For example, one station had reporters calling in over the phone from a local hospital. While that is not "bad" storytelling, it was an indicator that personnel were not available/not assigned to work that evening.
8. The eyewitness accounts were important to hear, but at times they became overused. I think this happened because the stations were awaiting a news conference that either happened later than expected or was more informal than is typical.
9. Social media appeared to be used far less than might be expected. Making this comment, I am referring to the local television stations. I relayed multiple "tweets" that also appeared on my Facebook page. But any expectation that the local media would employ social media didn't come to pass.

Overall, I was impressed with what I saw. The commitment to covering a story and to not dive into pithy emotional sayings was evident by almost everyone. The Pittsburgh television medis did their jobs.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pittsburgh-area shooting

Be sure to access my Facebook page or Twitter for my updates on the suburban Pittsburgh-area shooting.

They're free? (2 x UPDATE)

2nd UPDATE: 7:30 p.m. EDT: Do not forget the symbolism of today's visit for the North Korean government. The picture of a former U.S. president sitting across a table from Kim Jong-il provides a symbolic demonstration of the power Kim still holds in that country. So, too, does this photo that accompanies a CNN report about Mr. Clinton's visit to Pyongyang.

There will be much discussion as to whether Mr. Clinton was a pawn in a political game, and, yes, he was. Whether he was "used" by the U.S. administration and/or the North Korean government misses the point -- the Obama administration wanted the two journalists out of the country, and "Dear Leader" wanted an opportunity to demonstrate he was not a weakling.

Unfortunately, his method to his madness involved using two journalists and a former president. Did he succeed?

Finally, this note from Politico.com: Matt McKenna, spokesman for former President Bill Clinton, announced at 7:27 p.m. ET: "President Clinton has safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They are en route to Los Angeles where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families."

1st UPDATE: 3:51 p.m. EDT: Additional information from the New York Times.

POLITICO.com says North Korean media are reporting that Kim Jong-il has ordered the release of two jailed American journalists, just hours after former President Clinton arrived in Pyongyang to negotiate their release.

A fickle following?

Good report from Politico.com that highlights something I've argued for some time -- the president cannot count on the people who voted for him to continue to support him.

That reality underscores why the political discussions taking place in Washington are as relevant as they are -- the president could get the various reforms he wants, but he has to be careful not to offend the independent and other voters who see no loyalty toward the Democratic Party.

Bill Clinton visits Pyongyang

The media coverage associated with former President Bill Clinton's trip to Pyongyang has been impressive. In North Korea, the president reportedly is working toward finalizing the release of two American journalists, who have convicted by the North Korean government of spying.

Whatever political niceties the North Koreans were looking for appear to have been delivered -- both the U.S. government and the families of the journalists have admitted remorse for what took place, although there remains no substantive evidence that the women actually did anything wrong. (Oops, I forgot -- stepping foot into North Korea is a crime worthy of being thrown in the slammer.)

Mr. Clinton's visit is sure to generate substantial media coverage, for at least three reasons:

1. There is a lull in the national media focus on Congress, health care, the deficit and other such issues because of the Congressional recess in August
2. High-profile visits such as this one are rare by former presidents, and as a result they are newsworthy
3. There is an expectation that Mr. Clinton will succeed.

Continue to examine the images that come from this visit; it is apparent that the North Koreans are looking to score international points. You can see this through the various video that is allowed to be disseminated around the world.

Monday, August 03, 2009

LNS is not perfect

"LNS" stands for "Local News Sharing," a somewhat fancy term that mimics the "pool" system used nationally.

As this report notes, there are positives and negatives associated with the venture.

There also are important academic research possibilities here. Consider any of these:
1. Does LNS allow for more news stories to appear on air?
2. Does LNS allow for more independent, in-depth reports to appear on air?
3. What kinds of stories -- hard news, soft news, staged events, etc. -- are making it on air?

No, the LNS system is not perfect. But as I have suggested on this blog before, it is a practice that I don't think will be stopped. More local news operations ought to be prepared when the call comes down from upper management to begin instituting it.

Those prime-time press conferences...

...are putting a strain on the bottom line for various television networks. And they are, therefore, asking the White House to significantly cut back on them.

Is this a legitimate complaint/request? In my opinion, yes.

I understand why the president -- who is not shy about being in front of the television cameras -- prefers to deliver in prime-time whatever political message he wishes. It is during that time frame that he is assured of getting the largest possible audience.

And the president's ambitious agenda certainly demands that he generate the support of the American people. They, after all, put him into office, and in about three years time they will be asked if they want to keep them there.

However, the president is certainly has enough media savvy in him (just look at the complex campaign he ran, and its tremendous use of "new" media) to be able to circumvent the television cameras to get his message out.

I anticipate that the prime-time news conferences will rapidly become a thing of the past. Instead, the president will either attempt a "presidential address" or agree to move his press conferences to the afternoon.

Of course, if he moves them to the afternoon, the over-the-air television networks will have to decide whether to cut into their lucrative soap operas or abandon their commitment to covering news. That's a tricky one.

This is Eyewitness News at Six...on YouTube

Preposterous? Give me a good reason why anyone should say that?

In this era of attempting to find new profit centers, why wouldn't news operations consider a partnership with YouTube? Though at this point few are, there is no reason to think that many will in the near future.

The "old" (which, I remind you again, ended way back in the 1990s!) way of doing business is dead and gone. While remnants of it remain, there is no question that expecting the advertising and content delivery mechanism to be a healthy stream of revenue is no longer viable. For the latest example, note the expected 10% drop in upfront sales for this year. Granted, this is for entertainment, not news, programming, but the idea is the same -- new revenue sources must be found.

And those revenue streams have to coincide with where the next generation of viewers are. That's online. End of story.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Doing journalism...in fear

Interesting article from a TIME magazine reporter that recounts his final days covering the political unrest and general life in Iran.

It points up yet again the amazing gift of freedom of the press. Sure, we Americans (justifiably) get angry at the perceived/real bias we see in U.S. journalists. And when we see it, we are quick to point it out.

Sure, it is possible to question whether a biased journalist is in fact a journalist at all. But it is impossible to suggest that a journalist who is obligated to report for state-run media is a journalist.

I wonder if Venezuela's Hugo Chavez knows that...or even cares.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

This is one reason why the blogosphere at times resembles an alley behind a bar

You're sure to find all sorts of "stuff" in that alley, and a significant amount of it you don't want to touch or get near.

Today's rumors about the planned divorce of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, fall into that category. "Twitter" is just one site that is out-of-control with links, comments and suggestions about the rumor -- that has been denied by Mrs Palin on her Facebook page.

You are free to read into Palin's decision to cancel a speaking engagement planned for next weekend in southern California. However, I'm not.

But that misses the point: One report -- supported by unnamed multiple sources -- ought to instantly call into question its legitimacy. I'm not suggesting such a report cannot be true, but I am suggesting that the shallowness of the sourcing should concern you.

Of course, you are free to dive into that dark alley at any time you want. Just make sure you be careful.

Walter Cronkite has suddenly become fair game...

...for criticism.

The latest verbal blast comes from political science professor Larry Sabato, who is always among the first such people to be contacted by American media for comment on a political issue.

Sabato, in the aforementioned link, examines the political legacy of Walter Cronkite, and he asks if Cronkite's covert and overt political agenda takes some of the shine of his journalistic legacy.

In my opinion, what Sabato and others such as him who are questioning Cronkite are missing is this: Cronkite was a journalist first. Too many who aspire to be him today are too quick to surrender their journalistic integrity for the sake of ratings. Others abandon any pretense of journalistic objectivity because it is the only way to stay employed. Still others see no usefulness in being fair and balanced because there is too much money to be made by being the opposite.

The notion that Cronkite belonged in one of these three camps has not been established. It might be someday, but it has not yet. Thus, for those who wish to write critical commentaries about him, there is something important to remember: Attempting to view Cronkite as something other than a journalist first is playing fast and loose with the facts that are currently available to us. That is something that Cronkite didn't do, and the great journalists of this era don't either. Opinion writers would be wise to not do that either.

Too much "journalism" these days...

...passes for Person A said this, Person B said that and Person C added another little nugget of information.

Too often missing from these "he said, she said" stories is the analysis, context and depth that the American public needs in order to more fully understand a story.

There are exceptions out there, and chances are if you are a serious news consumer you are accessing those news agencies.