Posts Tagged ‘Media’

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

The Microphone that Made it to the Columbus Museum

March 5, 2012

The inspiration for this post comes from my PIC QUIZ feature on Facebook. I asked folks to tell me the significance and type of this antique microphone.

Paul  Pierce, artistic director of the Springer Opera House, was the winner of the ATTABOY AWARD because he knew that it is a carbon microphone, and suggested that  it is from the Jim Woodruff era at WRBL. I said that was close enough if he was referring to Jim Woodruff, Sr., not Jim Woodruff, Jr. Jim Woodruff, Jr. ended up running and owning the largest share of the station,  but it was Sr.who bought WRBL in the  early 1930’s and, this mic was being used then. It could even have been used when WRBL went on the air in 1928 in a dressing room of the now gone Royal Theater.  The Royal became the Three Arts Theater before the building became victim of the wrecking ball.

Roy Martin, the man who built  the Royal, a 2,700-seat movie and vaudeville theater, was the first owner of WRBL radio, which went on the air with a 50-watt transmitter built by “Radio” Bill Lewis – hence the call letters WRBL – who continued working as an engineer at WRBL long after Roy Martin sold it. Legend has it that he sold it because he thought it couldn’t be profitable because “you have to pay all those people to be on the radio.”  Over the years it went from a 50-watt independent to a 250-watt, and, finally, a 5,000-watt CBS affiliate that made a lot of profit, and gave birth to WRBL-FM, and, finally WRBL-TV which has made tons of profits over the years. Martin’s theater chain was quite profitable, too. And it got back into the broadcasting business when it became part owner of WDAK-TV, which morphed into WTVM. It became sole owner of WTVM. It’s been sold a number of times since then, as has WRBL-TV.

So you can see that the old carbon mic is an important historical artifact.  It now belongs to the Columbus Museum.  Don Nahley, who was given the mic when he left WRBL-TV as manager, asked me and former broadcast journalist Al Fleming to  join him in presenting the mic to the museum.  Don and I worked together at  WRBL-TV for many years, and we worked with Al there for a short while. Museum Executive Director Tom Butler accepted the microphone for the museum’s collection of historical artifacts. Don, Al, and I are all glad it’s now the property of the museum. We think that is where it  should be.

The New, Electronic Face of Education

October 23, 2011

WHAT ARE TEXTING, SMART PHONES, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, VIDEO GAMES DOING TO  OUR CHILDREN’S BRAINS?

Can the Facebook, Twitter, Texting, video game generation concentrate enough to become adequately educated for the future?  At the Unitarian Fellowship of Columbus service today, retired CSU History Professor Mark Berger raised that question to MCSD retired teacher and Media Specialist Connie Ussery, who. in her retirement instructs Carver High teachers in using electronic media to teach. The school is transitioning to digital textbooks.  Some teachers, she says, are making the transition, others are hanging on to paper textbooks.

Connie acknowledged the problem of attention spans shortening with constant bombardment of our young people’s brains by fast changing electronic media stimulation, and said the huge amount of time students spend looking at two-dimensional electronic images is definitely affecting the brains of young people. However, she says it has to be effectively used because electronic media images are here to stay and will probably increase.

And to think, I still read paper books, but I  do get my daily Ledger-Enquirer electronically.  

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. 

News Media Cheapens Itself with Massive End-of-the-world Coverage

May 21, 2011

It’s really sad the way news media moguls are cheapening their products by devoting so much air time and ink to religious crackpots.  Every time one of them does something like predicting the end of the world or burns a Koran they treat the story as though it is right up there with killing the world’s most sought terrorist Osama bin Laden,  or the  historically futile efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement to bring peace to cure that never-ending, festering, and very expensive diplomatic sore.

If peace could be achieved in Israel it appears that would help end at least one huge element in the struggle to defuse the Mideast bomb.  Some people, including many Israelis, are afraid that the uprisings of Mideasterners who are protesting authoritarian regimes and demanding democracy could be bad for Israel because the protesters could be anti-Israel.  But, is that really the case?  The best argument made for the protesters is that they simply want better lives for themselves and their families.  The want jobs that pay decent wages.  They want freedom of speech. Their movement does not seem to be religiously based. This may or may not be true, and we won’t know if it is or not until democracy does take hold in the Mideastern nations.

Now, that’s a story has a huge impact not only on us in the U.S., but on people all over the world.  To give the same sort of attention to the story of some radical fundamentalist like  Harold Camping, a retired civil engineer, who founded Family Radio Worldwide,  who predicts the exact day and time the rapture will come leading to the end of the world is truly disgusting.

A View on How Newspapers and TV Differ on “Bean Counter Cannibalism”

March 30, 2011

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. 

John Cornett

 

 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.  

Kurt Says He Was Asked to Leave WTVM

March 29, 2011

When WTVM Chief Meteorologist Kurt Schmitz and I were messaging each other on Facebook, I asked him how things were going at 9.   He explained that he was told to leave WTVM. I told him that nothing surprises me in the world of TV, because, in my opinion, it’s cannibalistic. 

The first time I heard that term used in connection with a work environment was when it was used by the late Jim Woodruff, Jr., who was part owner, president, and general manager of WRBL Radio and TV.  When I told him in 1968 I had accepted a job at WAGA-TV in Atlanta and would be leaving WRBL, he said that I would find it more cannibalistic in Atlanta.  I was flattered that he made an effort to get me to stay at WRBL, but I had already accepted the job so I left, being careful not to burn any bridges with Jim.  I had a good relationship with him, and indeed it turned out that it was a good thing I didn’t burn that bridge, because I came back about five years later as the Vice President of News as well as the evening news anchor.

He was right about Atlanta being more cannibalistic, but I already knew that because I had worked at WSB Radio for four years.  That’s not to say there weren’t really fine people there.  There were, and I had good friends, but I did quickly learn who were the back stabbers and dealt with them accordingly. However, I also found it true to a lesser degree at all the TV stations I worked for.  It just seemed a little more intense in the Atlanta broadcast arena.  The stakes are a lot higher in the really big markets. Of course, the phenomenon isn’t limited to the TV business.  When people are competing for power, status, and recognition, as well as money, it is well known they can play roughly.

That’s not to say anyone is playing roughly in this case, because I really don’t know the details of what is going on with the situation with Kurt, because he is being careful about what he says on advice from counsel, he told me via email. He did tell me this much:

“I reported for work on Friday at my regular time, and after a short meeting I was then asked to leave the station. And after a weekend of uncertainty I found out finally today that my job with the company had been terminated.  I was stunned as this came out of nowhere.”

That’s all he would say, but he added he will have more to say later to stop rumors from flying.

I asked WTVM Vice President and General Manager Lee Brantley about this and he said it is a personnel matter and he cannot comment.

 

How Newspapers Can Survive

March 22, 2011

 

John Cornett

My old friend John Cornett – we’ve known each other for more than 70 years – responded to yesterday’s post about changes at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer via Facebook.  Because not everyone who reads this blog reads Facebook, I decided to pass his comment on to you.  He has credibility when it comes to observations about newspapers because of his professional background.  He started at the Ledger-Enquirer as an employee in the promotion department.  He ended up there as National Advertising, Promotion and Personnel Manager, and administrative assistant to the publisher.   He became publisher of the Boca Raton News in Florida, then the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune in Gary, Indiana. After retiring from Knight-Ridder,  he became Publisher of the Sports Classics Magazine in Camden, South Carolina, and now operates the sports travel agency Sports Classics International in Columbia, South Carolina.

He commented on  Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor  Joseph Kieta’s  statement in Monday’s L-E print edition about the newspaper’s goal. 

Joseph Kieta wrote, “We want to create a daily newspaper that is an oasis from the noise of the daily news cycle – a deep breath and exhale that adds depth, relevance and context and answers the questions ‘why’ and ‘how.’ If we do our jobs the right way, we’ll probe deeply into local affairs and thoroughly explain community issues.”

John Cornett wrote: “An ambitious but fitting goal for any newspaper, and one that can be the difference in survival as an essential reflection of the heart beat of a community, and the kind of demise that many newspapers that fail to meet that standard will ultimately suffer.

“I just hope they put the resources and the personal and financial commitment behind the words. It will be the salvation for many fine journalists, employes of the support groups in production, circulation, accounting and advertising and for the community at large.”

The Oasis Goal Sounds Good to Me

March 21, 2011
 

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Executive Editor Joseph Kieta (File photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

  Now we know how the new management of the Ledger-Enquirer is changing the paper.  Proclaiming the changes with the lead article on today’s front page – incidentally, that’s where it should be, in my view, since a daily newspaper still has a tremendous responsibility to and influence on a community – Executive Editor Joseph Kieta  explained the changes are in response to reader calls for an improved paper.

Instead of commenting on the details of the changes, because you can read that story for yourself easily enough, I will just lift out the one paragraph that is the most significant to me: 

“We want to create a daily newspaper that is an oasis from the noise of the daily news cycle – a deep breath and exhale that adds depth, relevance and context and answers the questions ‘why’ and ‘how.’ If we do our jobs the right way, we’ll probe deeply into local affairs and thoroughly explain community issues.”

If the paper can accomplish that, it will indeed provide an extremely important service that is sorely needed.  There is a big problem though. The public’s attention span is probably its shortest ever.  In-depth analytical writing that is succinct, incisive, insightful, and easily and quickly read has always been a daunting challenge, and it still is. 

The L-E folks have my best wishes in meeting that challenge because for many years I have been troubled by the egregiously superficial news reporting so common to  TV,  which, according to Pew Research, is still where the largest number of people get  their news.  That’s why I have always said that newspapers are extremely important because of their ability to report in-depth.  Still, being in-depth is no substitute for being clear.