Archive Date 2005-09-12



NO BREAKOUT

Despite
plenty of solid reporting along the way, there wasnt much of Hurricane
Katrina
coverage that youd want to put in a time capsule. No
individual emerged
as the signature "storm stud." No one
has "owned" the story, although NBCs Brian
Williams, Fox Newss Shep Smith,
and CNNs Anderson Cooper
came closest.

Why?  MarketWatch
columnist Jon Friedman suggests
that its because Katrina
was "too real for comfort. The devastation, death and
suffering is too vivid for us to watch for long."

Nevertheless, the storm is giving us the
clearest peek at the future of network anchors. ABCs Bob Woodruff and
Elizabeth Vargas
shared anchor duties in the field with Charlie
Gibso
n in the studio. CBS elevated John Roberts
to prominence, allowing him to report from the field in New Orleans and
introduce stories from other reporters.

But
NBCs Brian Williams solidified his claim as the only certain
heir
to the Brokaw-Rather-Jennings mantle. He was the only
network anchor
to position himself in the path of the storm.

"You cant discount the jump this
story gives Brian Williams," says veteran producer Steve
Friedman
. "Whether it was good planning or luck, it doesnt
matter."

"I have not seen an inch of
my own coverage," Williams
told APs David Bauder
. "I have very little sense
of it and Im probably the last judge of my own work. I tried to call
them as I saw them. And if I let my emotion or anger get the better of
me, what some would have called a failing of a journalist, I think
should be taken the other way around on this story."

Varietys
Michael Learmonth thinks
Fox News Channels Shep Smith
came closest to a breakout.

He says the Mississippi natives
interviews with survivors as they waded out from the swampy morass
showed natural reportorial instincts and provided some of the
disasters most compelling footage.

"Part of it was his local knowledge,
his accent and phrasing," says broadcast analyst Andrew Tyndall,
adding Shep didnt come off as an interloper among the
locals.

Smiths newfound stature earned
him cult status on the web and an invitation to appear on David
Lettermans "Late Show,"
where, if you believe the Fox
spinmonsters, he bumped CNNs Anderson Cooper from the starting
lineup.

CNN claims Cooper wanted to
remain in New Orleans to stick with the story.

In
todays New
York Times
, Elizabeth Jensen offers Coop high praise

for his "polite righteous indignation in behalf of hurricane
victims." 

His emotional Sept. 1 interview with
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu "pushed right up to the line
between tough questioning and confrontational advocacy journalism,
but viewers responded."

Producer David Perozzi, who worked
with Cooper at ABC News on "20/20 Downtown,"
says his friend is "no joke. Hes really intense. He could
care less how he looks, his hair and makeup. If theres no cameraperson,
he grabs the camera."

Cooper, the Times reminds
us, quit ABC News in 2000 to be the host of ABCs reality
show "The Mole," when the news division told him to
choose between the two jobs. One executive publicly predicted that he
would never work in news again.

"I think at that time he was sort of
at a crossroads in his life and wasnt sure about TV news," said Perozzi.
"But it doesnt seem to have hurt him."

CNN hired him in December 2001 and
gave him his own show in 2003.

<<<>>>

Rather
than fight a lawsuit by CNN, the federal government abandoned its
effort Saturday to prevent
the media from reporting on the recovery of the dead
in New Orleans.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith
Ellison
issued a temporary restraining order Friday against a
"zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by
Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief
effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the citys homeland
security director.

<<<>>>

FUTURE UNCERTAIN

New Orleans media outlets, including the
seven television stations
that make up the nations 43rd-largest
media market
, have been left to contemplate a
surreal future of a city devoid of functioning businesses, with no goods
to advertise and almost no people to buy them
.

The
television stations, which collectively took in an average of $7.5
million a month
over the past six months, have probably lost a
combined $3.7 million in the past two weeks.

The question is how long these
outlets, which earn the vast majority of their revenue from advertising,
can go without that revenue. New Orleans is looking at months, if not
years, of recovery.

While advertisers are taking things a day
at a time, media owners appear to be basing their determination to stay
in New Orleans largely on the pending arrival of billions of dollars
in reconstruction aid.

"People are going to need
rebuilding," said Rick Keilty, senior VP of Belo,
"and if you are in a business that provides that rebuilding, you
are going to want to tell people you can provide those services."

Terry Mackin, executive VP of Hearst-Argyle,
went so far as to predict an economic boom for stations in New
Orleans. "I think well see a short-term economic hit and then a
long-term boom," he said.

<<<>>>

Roger
Simmons
reports
that Hearst-Argyles New Orleans station WDSU-6-NBC is
planning to continue broadcasting from Orlando Hearst-Argyle
sister station WESH-2-NBC for "months and months and
months."

<<<>>>

LONG TERM COMMITMENT

American
media outlets are pledging to stay on the story to find out what
went wrong
with the response to the disaster.

"We havent had this many people
committed to a story since I dont know when," says
CBS News executive Marcy McGinnis
, who estimates that
the network has 200 staffers on the story, on par with competitors.
"Were in it for the long haul ? with as many people as it
takes to be done."

The question is "how many news
organizations have the investigative muscle to handle a story this
complex, and how many can afford to lose a team for the time it will
take to do that, especially in TV," says Tom Rosenstiel of
the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "I fear the list
of news organizations that can do that today is not very long. And
sadly, it gets shorter if ad sales go down and other news pushes Katrina
off our radar screens."

<<<>>>

J.
Max Robins
opines in Broadcasting & Cable
that
"its easy to understand why (NBC and CBS) would want
to bring more prime time pyrotechnics to the business of news.
But if their news operations push the entertainment element too far,
they will chase away a blue-chip audience that values substance much
more than style."

He says post-Katrina coverage clearly
demonstrated that viewers seek out legitimate news operations in
times of crisis.

<<<>>>

<<<>>>

PAY TO PLAY

Gannetts
WXIA-11-NBC
launches a new late morning show today at 11 a.m.,
fronted by former CNN Airport News lovely Holly Firfer and
radio guy Ryan Cameron.

The twist is…"Atlanta and
Company"
will
charge guests up to $2,500 for five minute appearances
. They hope to
book six paid segments per hour.

<<<>>>

Martha Stewart, 64,
launches Martha
, a syndicated daily TV show,
today.

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
starts Sept. 21 on NBC.

<<<>>>

Kathie Lee Gifford and Donny
Osmond
could
be the next hot couple
to enter the daytime talk show arena.

<<<>>>

STRETCHED THIN

Heather
Unruh
, who co-anchors the 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. "EyeOpener"
shift at Bostons WCVB-5-ABC and is the chief medical reporter in
the evenings, will
now ALSO co-anchor the stations 5 p.m. newscast
.

She
fills the anchor slot left vacant when Natalie Jacobson scaled
back her duties to the 6 p.m. newscast only.

Her shift is nearly as challenging
as co-worker Ed Hardings (right), who anchors the 11 p.m.
newscast, sleeps for a few hours, then co-anchors the 5 a.m. EyeOpener.

<<<>>>

Don Pratt has resigned as news
director of Jefferson Pilots WCSC-5-CBS in Charleston, S.C., to
become assistant ND at Sunbeams WHDH-7-NBC in Boston. Hell
replace Linda Miele, who was bumped up to news director in
August.

<<<>>>

Lloyd Braun, the former chairman
of ABCs entertainment group who now oversees Yahoos
expanded media group in Santa Monica, has
hired Kevin Sites
, a veteran television correspondent, to
produce a multimedia website
that will report on wars around
the world.

<<<>>>

Canadas
CTV Newsnet interrupted
its regular programming Thursday
to announce "Breaking
News"
that former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard had
died.

One problem. He had not.

<<<>>>

Legendary ABC sportscaster Chris
Schenkel
died early Sunday
at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne
after a long battle with emphysema. He was 82.

<<<>>>

NBC "Early Today" weather
guesser Rosey Edeh, who left the show in mid-August, has hired on
as a reporter with Global TVs new Entertainment Tonight
Canada.

<<<>>>

Demetria Kalodimos, the popular
co-anchor at Nashvilles WSMV-4-NBC, has become engaged to
singer-songwriter Verlon Thompson. So says Kalodimoss
longtime co-anchor Dan
Miller

in his insider blog
.

<<<>>>

Brian Bledsoe, chief weather
guesser at Milwaukees WDJT-58-CBS, has elected not to renew
his contract
when it expires, citing "family reasons."

Last week, Milwaukee morning weather
guesser Eric Braate decided not to renew his contract with WITI-6-Fox.

<<<>>>

DCRTV
reports
that "Good Morning America" weather guesser
"Tony Perkins will not be going to WJLA. He wanted
over $300,000. Managers decided to pass." 

WTTG-5-Fox is said to be eagerly
pursuing Perkins.

<<<>>>

Chief Toledo weather guesser Jeff
George
, 36, is
leaving WUPW-36-Fox
to become a financial advisor for Merrill
Lynch
.

<<<>>>

Fox News has dumped two weekend
programs: "After Hours" with Cal Thomas, which
aired at 11 p.m. Saturdays, and "Fox Magazine" with
Laurie Dhue
, Sundays at 11 p.m.

<<<>>>

MRS.
BLUEZETTES GRAMMAR CORNER

"A PBS mind in an MTV world." MrsB@newsblues.com

Because of the number of requests
Mrs. B has gotten to address the pronunciation of New Orleans,
here goes.
Say noo OR-lins (Youll hear some locals say NOR-lins.).
Do not say "New OR-lee-ahns" or "New Or-LEENS."
However, much of the city of New Orleans sits in Orleans Parish, and
that is pronounced Or-LEENS.

Now to our lesson for today.
Mrs. B reminds you to use amount with things that cant be
counted and number with things that can.
This is what she heard on CNN Headline News:

The airport terminal turned into a
field hospital has been overwhelmed with the "amount" of
patients. (9-1-05)

Patients can be counted, so the
corrected version is:

~The airport terminal turned into a field
hospital has been overwhelmed with the number of patients.

Amount refers to quantity,
something that cant be counted.
For example:

~The amount of pleasure Mike and
Mark get from doing the weather is amazing.

Mrs. B ends this lesson with a quotation
about humility:

You would be astounded at the relief
that comes once you stop assuming you have all the answers.–Sarah Ban
Breathnach, author

 

 

More News from Monday, September 12, 2005