Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

TV is Still Politically Powerful

May 19, 2017

IT  STILL  DOMINATES THE NEWS MEDIA SCENE

If anyone truly understood the political power of TV it was the late Roger Ailes, the creator of FOX News, who, according to news report, died because he fell and hit his head in the bathroom of his Palm Beach, Florida home.  He played a major role in helping Republican presidential candidates from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump get elected by advising them on how to  use TV.

President Trump certainly seemed to  understand Ailes’ “orchestra pit theory.” It enabled him to get tons of free TV news time, especially during the Republican primary fights. TV fell for the ploy hook, line, and sinker. Many, including me, believe this is the main reason he won the nomination. The “pit” theory, I read in Wikipedia, is explained in this Ailes quote:

“If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”

During Nixon’s time, TV was, no doubt where, to a large degree, elections were lost or won. It was and still is where most people get their news. At least, that’s what a Pew poll tells us that was the case in 2016..  However, that is changing.

The poll shows that 57 percent of US adults get their news from TV, cable, network, and local; 38 percent from social media, websites/apps; 25 percent from radio, and 20 percent from print newspapers.

However,  the trend appears headed online.  50 percent of people ages 18 – 29 get their news online, 27 percent of them get it on TV, 14 percent on radio and 5 percent print newspapers.

49 percent of 30 through 49 years old get their news online, 45 percent  on TV, 27 percent  on radio, and 10 percent from print newspapers.

Seniors still depend on TV heavily, 72 percent ages 50 – 64, and 85 percent ages 64 plus. The  age 64 plus crowd give print newspapers their highest percentage, 48 percent.

Where I get my news? From TV, online, radio, and magazines.  What about newspapers? Definitely. Big time.  But, not print editions, unless you count the Ledger-Enquirer online copy of the print edition as a print edition. I read both the e-edition and the website edition. I also occasionally sample newspaper websites from Washington D.C, Atlanta, New York,  Israel, U.K., Russia, France, China, and other countries. It’s amazing what’s out there for us to read now.

 

Columbus Gets a Local Radio Station for Intellectuals?

July 3, 2015

There is good reason to think that is the case. The sophisticated jazz music I’m listening to right now is a good start.  Here’s the news release published by CSU University Relations yesterday.


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University went live today with its first radio station, thanks to a local contribution. Just after midnight, 88.5 WCUG-FM Cougar Radio signed on and inaugurated a new era in student broadcasting opportunities for CSU.

Housed in CSU’s Department of Communication on the RiverPark campus and operated by students under the direction of department faculty and staff, WCUG-FM enables university faculty and students to produce and broadcast original content over the 22,000-watt station, 24 hours a day. In addition to original content, the station will offer a broadcast schedule of music and other programming to fit diverse tastes and interests.

“The CSU Department of Communication is growing in number of majors and in classroom and community opportunities for students to gain practical experience in many areas of the industry said Danna Gibson, chair of the department. “We are excited to launch the station and provide opportunities for communication students to learn all aspects of running a radio station. We are grateful for this gift that will enhance not only our communication studies, public relations and integrated media concentrations but also will open opportunities for all CSU students.”

For now, the music on 88.5 will not change much. But that will change soon. The station plans a limited schedule of programming in the first few months of operation, according to Gibson. The schedule will expand in fall with additional original programming and news, as well as music and sports. “We look to faculty and students to tell us what they want to hear on WCUG,” she said. “This is a great learning lab for our students, but it also is a new alternative in radio listening for our university and the community. I invite you to listen to us as we grow,” she adde

Escape Radio, TV, Books, and Movies

March 4, 2015

When I was young, fiction interested me more than non-fiction.  Since my family subscribed to both the Columbus Ledger and the Columbus Enquirer, I did see the front page headlines on the way to  the  comics and movie ads, and I did  see the newsreels when I went to a movie, so I did  have an idea of what was going on in the world. But it was the feature films and the cartoons that I cared about.

Then, as I got older I became more interested in reality.  A highlight of the year was radio, and later, TV coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  And when, as a teenager, I got into radio broadcasting, announcers did a little of  everything back then. They read commercials, newscasts, and hosted disc jockey shows. It was the disc jockey shows that I wanted to do the most. Still, reading wire service radio news copy served me well when I matured enough to specialize in news, first on radio and then on TV. I learned to interview news subjects, edit audio tape for radio, and shoot and edit film and video for TV news. 

I basically stopped reading fiction, concentrating on non-fiction.  But, I never stopped going to  the movies,  watching entertainment TV,  and listening to music, live and recorded. All of us need some escape from the real  world. And now I find myself escaping even more when I watch TV and go to the movies.  There is so much distressing news in the world.  Fortunately, there are enough quality TV programs and movies to hold my interest. A prime example of quality TV programs is Downton Abbey.  The British are especially good at producing period series and movies for TV. Downton Abbey is over for  this year, but Selfridges, another excellent period series follows it, so I won’t complain.  

  

 

An Advertiser’s Solution to Commercial Fast-forwarding

June 21, 2013

As I watched a rare commercial break this morning – I record just about everything I watch and fast-forward through the commercials – I was truly impressed with some photographic magic.  A fresh-faced, well-scrubbed young teen-age boy came  on the screen to tell me about the problems drugs can cause a guy. As he explained what they do to the brain, his face morphed seamlessly into a scraggly bearded,  unkempt, troubled youth. As I said, it was seamless. And, the video trick did not distract from  the message; it  enhanced it.

This type of video art made me reflect on how advertisers could cut way down on people fast-forwarding  through commercials by doing more of it. In other words, give the viewer something artistic and/or entertaining to watch. Some do.

The very effective Aflac duck commercial is a prime example. That one is quite expensive to make so not every advertiser can afford something like it. However, much lower-budgeted commercials can also be artistic and entertaining. Some of you may remember from many years ago the two local seniors advertising Southern Maid No-burn Bacon. At the end of their verbal sparring, one would always end with, “He’ll never learn.” A lot of folks laughed at those commercials and bought that bacon.

My Take on “Rather Outspoken” by Dan Rather

June 26, 2012

Dan Rather’s book “Rather Outspoken” was especially interesting to me, having met with him personally a few times, and having followed his career with CBS News.

Just as he did, I always thought of CBS News back in the old days as being the gold standard of broadcast journalism.  We both had great respect for the news organization that Edward R. Murrow built starting during  World War II.

Murrow’s gutsy reporting got too much for CBS head Bill Paley and he was forced out, but others, people  like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather continued that tradition, and were backed at crucial times such as the Watergate scandal by CBS President Frank Stanton and Paley.

But, Rather now says that changed and the network decided not to continue in  the CBS News Murrow and Cronkite tradition, opting to trend toward entertainment, and forcing him out in the process.  He also says the switch didn’t work, ratings fell, and now the network has decided to, fortunately, go back to practicing serious journalism.

Meanwhile, though 80 years old, he continues to do weekly news documentaries for the HDNet. And, as the flap of the book says, he would like to see more investigative journalism programs like his, “even in the face of corporatization, politization, and trivialization of the news”.

The flap also says, “Dan Rather also makes an eloquent case for the critical importance of a free and independent press as a check on political power, and its responsibility to be the voice of the people, to force government to be fair, reasonable, and democratic.” Amen.

He spends a lot of time in the book defending the report about former President George W. Bush’s alleged disobeying a direct order, and either going AWOL or being a deserter while in the Texas Air National Guard. That was the story that caused the network to force him out, he says. To this day, he maintains the report was correct.  Not everyone agrees.

All in all, the book was a page-turner for me.  He made a lot of enemies during his tenure at CBS News,  and he admits that and thinks making people angry is going to happen when investigative reporters do their jobs.  But, the fact is, he was and still is a courageous reporter, and it paid off for him for a long time. And he’s still at it.

A Dick’s World Reader Comments on the State of Television News

August 30, 2011

By Susan Stephenson

This post was sent as a comment on the previous Dick’s World post about television reporting of Hurricane Irene.  Since it is longer than most comments, makes interesting points, and is well-written, I decided to run it as a featured post. That doesn’t mean I endorse everything she says, or that I don’t.  It means she gets her say.

Unfortunately, people in the TV news biz these days know how to set up a shot visually, but all too frequently they are woefully uninformed on virtually ANYTHING else. They have no background knowledge in anything, therefore can present nothing in context or in depth.  And it shows.

Given the resources available on the internet, why do our local reporters mispronounce so many words, and the names of places and people? Especially, names that have been in the news on a national or international level? It’s a ridiculous lack of professionalism.

It would be an interesting experiment to sit down with a stop watch to time how much actual news is in our telecasts. After you take out the teasers on what they plan to tell us after the next commercial, the promos for other network shows, the recaps of what took place on previous network shows, and the “happy talk” between presenters, I bet ten minutes of real news would be a stretch.

An informed citizenry is critical to our nation. What passes for journalism in the 21st century is a travesty.

Rupert and William Randolph

July 25, 2011

Being a retired broadcast journalist, it’s de rigueur that I comment on the News of the World fiasco in the UK.  No doubt it adds even more tarnish to the news industry, but it’s certainly not the first time that a news corporation put profits above ethics.

Time put Rupert Murdoch in the same category as William Randolph Hearst,  and that makes a lot of sense. Controlling information is the source of great power and influence.  And making a lot  money is a part of that  equation. Hearst, in large part,  achieved his power through yellow journalism with his  New York Journal. That paper was credited with playing a role in starting the Spanish-American War in 1898.  He ended up, like Murdoch, owning a lot of papers, magazines, a movie production company, and added broadcasting when it came along.  He basically lost control of his empire when he greatly over-extended it.

Murdoch’s power is basically the same as was Hearst’s, though on a global basis, it is probably much larger.  Just as Hearst relied on sensationalism with his New York Journal, Murdoch did the  same with News of the World.  Murdock’s biggest money-maker is not his papers, though, but his movie studio, 20th Century Fox.  His Fox network, with shows like American Idol, is very lucrative, and so is his  Fox News cable channel.  His problem is not the same as Hearst’s, though. It’s not that  he overextended, it’s that one of his high-profile newspapers got caught being unethical and illegal by allegedly hacking phone calls.  It may not be his downfall, but it has  definately damaged his brand’s reputation, and the value of News Corp has dropped since the scandal broke.

What does all of this do to the credibility of the journalism business?  Probably not much.  Its credibility had plummeted before this ever happened.  I suppose it has always been about the money, but there was a time when it was also about a lot more, especially doing the right thing for the common good.  Actually, though, it is also about more than the money, because, in my view, especially with people like Murdoch, it’s about influence.

There is  hope, though. There are still some old-fashioned, dedicated, ethical, and committed journalists. Name one, you might say. The first to come to  mind is Bill Moyers.  

News Blues

June 6, 2011

A fellow worker once told me how he solved his depression problem. He said he had been a country music fan, but he finally realized that the sad stories told in country music were causing his depression. He said he stopped listening and stopped being depressed.  Well, just think about the stories being fed to us constantly by news media.   They give us a constant stream of all of the horrible and unjust things going on in the world, about man’s inhumanity to man, his proclivity to stay at war, his greed,  the wrath of nature with its more powerful tornadoes,  hurricanes,  forest fires, melting ice caps, rising oceans, plagues and famines.  Maybe they will throw in a warm and fuzzy tale at the end of a newscast to try to keep people from feeling either depressingly sad or mad after watching the news,  and that may work some, but it’s overpowered by the rest of the newscast.

 I can’t give it up altogether, but I can cut back and that’s what I have done. Admittedly, I opt for escapism.  I watch American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance, and I can understand why so many millions of others do, also.

I read more novels that I did in the past – though I also throw in some history books because I am a history buff – and I watch movies, and still go to movie theaters, and I watch the Braves occasionally (though, that can be depressing, too) and I go to music concerts, and plays, and am now more inclined to watch comedies. Life is tough enough without my spending time on made up tragedies.

Earning my living by reporting the news on television and radio, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that if I want to be less depressed I should stop watching, listening and reading the news. But, to be honest I have come to that conclusion. 

I can’t give it up altogether, though. One does need to know what’s happening because it can have a direct effect. Take the sad story – well, sad for me and everyone else but the 8-figure oil company executives and people who own tons of oil stocks – of the price of gasoline.  I can’t ignore that because I must have gasoline. Still, there is a sense of helplessness about it, because the only thing I can do about it is drive less. If enough of us would do that, and stop buying gas guzzler SUVs and monster pickup trucks that are rarely used as trucks, and slow down, we could perhaps affect the price of gasoline some, but basically that’s not happening.

Bottom line: no, I can’t give up keeping up.  That’s really not a smart thing to do. But, I don’t have to spend all day wallowing in the horrors of the world, and I’m not going to. 

Interesting Night for me to Sample Keith Olbermann’s Show

January 22, 2011

I almost never watch either Keith Olbermann or Bill O’Reilly.  I rarely watch any of the verbal bomb throwers whether they are on the right or the left.  I like my pundits to show a little class, and that’s something you don’t get much of on the cable news channels. But, last night I did decide to sample Olbermann’s show and lo and behold it turned out to be his last one.

Even though I don’t often play in  the mud puddles that the vociferous talkers wallow in, I must admit that I was glad that there was a counter to O’Reilly.  He and Olbermann were both on at  8 p.m Eastern Time.  For a while there was no alternative to the Fox right-wing propagandists, but MSNBC discovered there is an audience on the left and now has a nightly schedule of them.  Since there is no longer a Fairness Doctrine to make sure broadcasters air opinions on both side of an issue, we certainly need for the cable news outfits to provide us with right and left alternatives. 

What do I watch regularly? Nationally, it’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and I do sometimes record either the ABC or CBS newscast and watch them also to compare coverage. While I am not completely happy with any of  the big three network newscasts because I think they spend way too much time on soft stories, I think  they come closer to really being fair and balanced than the cable news channels.  Fox saying it is “fair and balanced” reminds me of Nixon saying ,”I am not a crook.”  If you are “fair and balanced” or “not a crook” you don’t have to say it, just be it.

Also, I watch the Daily Show regularly.  It is satirical, but quite often, in my view, its admittedly “fake news”  gets to the real truth of major stories more than the “real news” channels.  Yes, Jon Stewart does come across as a  liberal, but he also takes liberals to task when they go overboard.  He did that with Olbermann a couple of nights. Also, he often interviews conservatives like Bill O’Reilly on his show, and O’Reilly has even had Stewart on his show. Stewart has even invited Glenn Beck, but he won’t come.  

We still really don’t know why Olbermann left or was forced out. We do know that he has had  confrontations with some MSNBC higher-ups, but that’s all we know.  He didn’t tell us why he was leaving when he announced his departure last night, which I thought was really strange. but we will probably find out soon.  I must admit that I am curious about it.

Business Leader and Philanthropist J. Barnett Woodruff Dies

January 18, 2011

J. Barnett Woodruff at the dedication ceremony of the replica of the Civil War ship the Water Witch at the National Civil War Naval Museum (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

  The last member of the Woodruff family who participated in pioneering broadcasting in Columbus died at the age of 87 last night. Columbus native J. Barnett Woodruff, the son of Jim Woodruff, Senior and brother of the late Jim Woodruff, Jr. and late sister Emily Woodruff, was a part owner of WRBL Radio and TV before it was sold  in 1978.  Their father, Jim Woodruff, Sr., bought WRBL Radio back in the early 1930’s, a few years after it went on the air in a dressing room of the Royal Theater in 1928.  He turned it over to Jim in the late thirties. It grew and grew and ended up a very profitable radio and, eventually, television station. Barnett had a financial interest in the company, but left it up to Jim to run the stations. He had told me he was more interested in the family real estate business.

However, circumstances caused him to become very involved.  Jim died in an automobile accident  in Athens causing his majority ownership of Columbus Broadcasting Company to go into a family trust managed by the First National Bank.  Barnett owned  a minority interest in the company and became president.

The station was sold about two years after Jim Woodruff, Jr. died. Barnett did an extraordinary thing on his last day there.  He personally walked around the building and shook hands, thanked employees for their good work and handed them an envelope containing one-hundred-dollar bills.  I felt so expansive that when I got home that night I handed a couple of them to my teenage son. Teenagers just love cash.

He was a kind, generous man, supporting a number of charities including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Springer Opera House, and the National Civil War Naval Museum. His brother Jim had been instrumental in raising the ironclad Jackson from the Chattahoochee River and starting the naval museum, and his sister Emily was a generous supporter of the Springer.

He was a member of the Rotary Club of Columbus and First Presbyterian Church. He is survived by a daughter, two sons, and 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.  A memorial service will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.