BY JOHN CORNETT
My friend of many years, John Cornett, who worked in the newspaper business for a long time and ended up as publisher of two papers before he retired, put his interesting comment about yesterday’s post on Kurt Schmitz’s departure from WTVM on Facebook. In case you don’t read Facebook, I’m posting it here because it gives an interesting perspective on the differences between TV and newspapers. We really don’t know why Kurt no longer works at WTVM. He says the station said he quit, but he denies that. Station management won’t discuss it publically. That leads to speculation, of which there is a lot on Facebook. John’s is based on his many years of newspaper administration.
Sounds very much like bean counter cannibalism to me. The television world, as opposed to newspapers, and even radio, is vastly different in that regard. In the visual world, age-maybe a few wrinkles, a little too much paunch, maybe a younger, more twinkly personality(male or female), even ethnic considerations and certainly ratings-come into play. The written world knows none of those boundaries. It’s all based on the quality of the writing and the breadth and depth of knowledge, which is usually associated with education, age and on-the-ground, hard-knock experience. In the visual world, sometimes “Hi, I’m Suzie (or Freddie or Jose)-here’s the weather picture tonight” is all it takes to displace good people that don’t meet ratings(bean counter) standards.
I’m sure I’m telling Noah about the flood here, Richard. You’ve experienced, dealt with, and overcome those kinds of mercenary standards to reach prominence, even dominance, with a station that recognized the merits of experience, news savvy and trust-importantly TRUST- which only comes with age, experience and depth of knowledge-over the latest fresh out of J school show horse qualities.
I suppose, John, I should point out that I also had very good ratings over the years, and they climbed steadily when I worked at WTVM. It was interesting that even though I was 55 years old – Kurt is 55 – when I switched from WRBL to WTVM in 1986, that the young demographics that advertisers love stayed high, and if I remember correctly, even got better. A lot of people were surprised when the Ledger-Enquirer took a poll of teenagers on their favorite local TV news anchor and it turned out to be me. I had one lady write me to request an autographed picture for her two-year-old granddaughter, saying the little girl would tell everyone in the room to be quiet when I came on the screen. Incredible, but true.