Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

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.

 

My Top Ten Wish List for the U.S. in 2015

January 5, 2015

I wish that…

!.  The United States does not get into another war. 

2. The United  States Congress concentrates on working for what’s best for the country instead of what’s best for members of Congress.

3. The astronomical cost of healthcare stops rising.

4. The cost of education for physicians is greatly reduced, bringing the cost more in line with other countries, many of which provide free education for physicians.

5,  American universities put more emphasis on lowering the costs of education than adding administrators and new buildings.

6.  That we start valuing excellent educators more than football coaches.

7. American news media return to the days of responsible journalism, concentrating more on stories that affect people’s lives and less on sensationalism and that we produce more journalists like H. L. Mencken, Ida Tarbell,  David Halberstam, Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite,  Ben Bradlee, and Woodward and Bernstein. 

8.  That our economy continues to improve.

9 .  That we continue the trend toward producing more renewable energy.

10.  That more of us follow Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admonition that we judge people “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

What do you wish most for in 2015?  

 

 

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Latest: “The Bully Pulpit”

November 18, 2013

Christmas is a great time for book lovers, especially lovers of non-fiction. The book store shelves are bristling with a lot of interesting new histories and biographies.

I just bought Doris Kearns Goodwin’s newest history,  The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism . It’s about how Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft worked together as Republican progressives, and the split after Taft followed Roosevelt as president.

It’s also about the way that Roosevelt made a special effort to cultivate newspaper and magazine reporters of the time in order to get them to get across his messages to the American public.  It’s also about how Taft didn’t do that and paid for it.

The parallels between the turn of the 20th Century and now are amazingly close, things like a wide and widening income gap between the rich and poor and a split within the Republican party.

I’ve just started reading it, and it’ll be a while before I finish because I am a slow reader of histories and biographies.  I read novels like Sycamore Row by John Grishom  fairly fast.  It, by the way, is a good read, in my view, though, not  up to some of his preceding novels.

 

 

A Legendary Columbus Journalist Leaves Us

August 4, 2013

I just read on my old friend  John Cornett’s Facebook post where former Columbus  Ledger-Enquirer reporter Connie  Johnson died.  John was an executive at the L-E and worked with Connie for a long time. My old sailing buddy and former Columbus  Councilor Jack Bassett tells me she died in an automobile accident in her home town in  Mississippi a week ago. She was 89 years old. Her late husband Carlton was an editor. Both were top-flight journalists. The word that comes to mind is integrity.

Connie and I covered a lot of stories together, she for the paper and I for WRBL-TV.  Naturally, I usually broke the story before  she did because of the immediacy  of TV news, but she would always do a much  longer comprehensive report that contained things I wished I had the time to report.

People like Connie and Carlton represented responsible journalism at its best.  Not only did I admire and respect them, I liked them a lot.

Profound for Monday

January 7, 2013

It’s Monday, so I guess I need to come up with something to say. Then again, I don’t want to say something just to be saying something. I need to come up with something profound.

My coughs getting better. That’s only profound for me and my friends and family.

What can I say that is profound for everyone?

We need more ethical, just, and moral government, and not for just a few, but for everyone. Thankfully, some of Georgia’s state legislators also believe that, or, at least say they do. State Senator Josh McKoon says he believes that and is willing to  stand up for it. Let’s hope he gets support, and let’s hope we get more than window dressing in the bill that gets passed, if one gets passed. 

What else can I say that is profound? I didn’t say original, just profound. 

We have term limits for president of the United States, and we have term limits for governor of Georgia and Alabama, and probably other states. But, what we don’t have  and what we need most is term limits for national and state legislators. Something really needs to be done to encourage lawmakers to do the right thing for all of us, instead of just pandering to those who pour money into their campaigns.

Let’s see if I can come up with one more profound statement. How about this: we need news media who seriously do investigative reporting by reporting the stuff that somebody doesn’t want you to know. The internet showed promise in providing a platform for reporting stories that the mainstream media either ignored or was afraid to report. It turned out a lot of  misinformation and some out-and-out lies, were being posted on the web. You really have to check out sources to make sure what you are reading  is true.

Okay, now we can stop the profound parade and get ready for the really big story, one that will no doubt win the rating wars tonight: Alabama and Notre Dame playing for the national college football title. I have connections with Alabama so I’ll be pulling for the Crimson Tide.  

 

 

 

 

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.  

New Ledger-Enquirer Excutive Editor Promises a “Better Paper”

January 6, 2011

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Joseph Kieta speaking to Columbus Rotarians (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

 If first impressions mean anything, and according to the book Blink, which gives scientific evidence, they definitely do, I have to say I am feeling good about the future of journalism in our area. 

Based on what he told Columbus Rotarians today, the Ledger-Enquirer’s new executive editor, Joseph Kieta, is my kind of journalist, one who understands that a free press has a responsibility to do more than make money, though, of course, it must also do that to survive..

 What a lot of people who run today’s media, especially local TV stations,  don’t seem to realize is that doing a first-rate job of investigative reporting  is not only responsible journalism, it can be quite profitable. Back in the old days, I did some investigative reporting, and the ratings were boffo.  If a paper or TV station wants a truly impressive exclusive story, it digs, goes beneath the surface, and comes up with  news that no one else has. Yes, it takes capable reporters, and you get what you pay for…well, sometimes. Hey, it takes money to make money. How’s that for a run of clichés!

 He promised a paper that will “probe, illuminate, compel and not be boring.”  He also promised to “shine light into dark corners,” saying he agrees with the statement that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”  Amen.

 There will be changes. He plans to reorganize the paper’s newsroom, but gave no details. He praised Dusty Nix for his editorial page work. During audience question time, someone asked if he was going to check with other members of the community about keeping Dusty. That got a big laugh, but Kieta said, with a smile, that a reader might not agree with everything that Dusty writes, but that what he says will provoke thought.  As I told him after the meeting, Dusty is intelligent and does a good job. I stand by that. Besides, I like him. He has no problem speaking truth to power.

 Kieta acknowledged that the media ball game has changed drastically over the years, and that newspapers have changed and will continue to do so. Since papers can now break stories on their websites at any time, which lets them better compete with electronic media,  in the future, the print edition will concentrate more on reflective reporting rather than printing “yesterday’s news.” Makes sense to me. I look forward to it. 

We didn't get to hear from the Ledger-Enquirer's new President and Publisher Rodney Mahone, but since Joseph Kieta works for him, I suppose we can assume that they share the same journalistic philosophy. Good.

Watchdogging is a News Media Responsibility

November 18, 2010
It was good, in my opinion, to see that Georgia’s largest newspaper still considers it is responsible to serve the public as a watchdog.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dan Chapman broke the story Sunday about Governor Sonny Perdue’s meeting with state employees in the Georgia Ports Authority about his trucking and grain companies seeking business with ports.  And yesterday,  according to AJC, Rome, Georgia ethics watchdog George Anderson asked Georgia’s attorney general and inspector general to investigate  Governor Sonny Perdue for allegedly violating the public trust by meeting with state employees to boost his trucking and grain businesses. 

The paper’s Sunday story reported that Governor Perdue met in the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah “with a half-dozen state employees” with the purpose of the meeting to discuss how the Ports Authority could help grow the governor’s private businesses.

Responding to Anderson’s call for an investigation,  AJC reports that Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said, “This is yet another frivolous complaint filed by Mr. Anderson, solely based on a news story that was full of speculation and innuendo, not facts.”  Previously he had stated that Governor Perdue and his associates were simply obtaining information available to any Georgian for his businesses in which the governor will become active after he finishes his second term.

No matter how this turns out, the positive note to me is that the Atlanta  Journal-Constitution is doing its Fourth Estate duty by serving as a public watchdog.  Somebody has to keep an eye on what politicians are up to. After all, their actions have direct effects on our lives because they get to make the rules, rules that they sometimes break themselves.  They may tell us during their campaigns that they are looking out for our interests, but it turns out that is not always the case, that they are sometimes primarily looking out after their interests.  

Let’s hope AJC keeps up the good work and that other news media follow their example.  It’s their public duty, in my view.

Formula TV News Reporting

February 4, 2010

Borden Back, a former broadcast journalist with whom I worked at both WRBL and WTVM (she works freelance for print media now),  sent an email about a satirical TV news package on formula news packaging that is funny, but, also, all too true. You can see it by clicking this link.