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Walter Cronkite Reassessed

MBNAB4.pngNine months after his death, the life and work of Walter Cronkite was remembered at the RTDNA conference in Las Vegas this morning.

Eight men and women who either worked with, have written about, or are carrying on the legacy of the CBS newsman spoke to a diverse group of past, current and future news managers and reporters — those old enough to have watched him every night and too young to have ever watched him at all, at least not live.

Marcy McGinnis, who worked with Cronkite from the ages of 20 to 31, and who would later become London bureau chief for CBS News, talked about having annual meetings with Cronkite, who was as much a teacher as he was a newsman.

She talked about how, as a 21-year-old news assistant working at the Kennedy Space Center, she unwittingly gave Cronkite’s hotel room number to someone who’d called asking for it. “I never did fess up, but I learned never to give out Walter’s number to a viewer.”

As for his departure from the anchor chair, McGinnis tried to correct the record of an audience questioner about the Cronkite-to-Rather transition: “My recollection wasn’t that the brass tried to push him out, it’s that he reached this mandatory retirement age. Then it came down to Dan Rather and Roger Mudd,” she said, adding: “Dan eventually won the toss-up or however they decided it. Thankfully I wasn’t in management then.”

Don Godfrey, a professor at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism told the crowd, “Walter gave us the news we needed to know, not necessarily what the audience wanted to know.” A concept which almost seems quaint in this day and age of personalized information through a variety of online and social media sources.

Bill Silcock, also an associate professor at the Cronkite School says, “Walter would have embraced all of it — Facebook and Twitter. He would have had a great Twitter name.”

The panel simultaneously agreed: “Uncle Walter.” (By the way, it’s taken.)


A photo of former CBS News executive Marcy McGinnis with Walter
Cronkite as part of the Cronkite Reassessed panel at RTDNA.

After the jump: What Walter Cronkite called a “mistake” on his part…

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Scene @ the NAB/RTDNA

MBNAB5.pngAs we cover day two of the NAB/RTDNA conference here in Las Vegas some quick snapshots of what’s going on. NBC News correspondent Bob Dotson discussed how he finds, interviews and assembles his “American Story with Bob Dotson” series for the Today show.

Around the same time as Dotson was speaking, we dropped in to the main ballroom at the Hilton Las Vegas as FCC chairman Julius Genachowski tried to calm the fears of a roomful of skeptical broadcasters about the government’s National Broadband Plan.

And below, a bulletin board — the old fashioned kind — already filled with resumes from hopeful future tvnewsers. There’s another full board nearby. The RTDNA conference attracts not just news managers but students hoping to get on their radar.




Live Mobile TV Gets Summer Test Run

MBNAB1.pngFOX Business Network anchor Nicole Petallides moderated the opening breakfast discussion this morning at the 2010 NAB Show. The topic: taking live programming on the go, on any number of new mobile devices, including the iPad, which was front at center during this morning’s chat.

The panel included former NBC exec now Chairman and CEO of Ion Media, Brandon Burgess and Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting. Both are members of the OMVC, the open mobile video coalition.

The OMVC announced it will test a new Mobile DTV broadcast this summer in Washington, D.C. on a number of devices distributed by the group. Programming will come from Washington’s NBC, CBS and FOX stations as well as Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.


FBN’s Nicole Petallides, Brandon Burgess, ION Media Networks; John Thode, Dell; Dave Lougee, Gannett Broadcasting

Newsers Meet for Annual Confab; Coverage of Haiti Top of Mind

MBNAB.pngThe newly-named RTDNA (Radio, TV, Digital News Association) is kicking off its annual convention today in Las Vegas with a discussion of one of the biggest news stories of the year: the earthquake in Haiti and how the news media responded to it and covered it. Among the panelists, Parisa Khosravi, SVP of International Newsgathering for CNN Worldwide and Dr. Mona Khanna, a Medical Contributor for Fox News Chicago as well as NPR and AP correspondents and the president of Canada’s CTV News.

The session begins at 7pmET, we’ll be Tweeting highlights here. The RTDNA website is also live blogging the discussion.

RTDNA is once again partnering with the larger National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) with 80,000+ attendees over the next three days. Attendance is expected to be up this year compared to last year’s 83,842. That compares to 105,259 in 2008 and 111,028 in 2007.

Some of the highlights we’ll be looking to cover on TVNewser, WebNewser and the other blogs: Tuesday’s keynote with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a conversation with “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matt Weiner, and the induction of NBC Sports into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. NBC Sports & Olympics boss Dick Ebersol will be here to accept.

> Related: CNNI succeeds by setting itself apart from CNN

Robin Leach’s Next Act

A couple Las Vegas leftovers from TVNewser’s coverage of the 2008 NAB-RTNDA conference.

Leach2_4.19.jpgBefore leaving Las Vegas Wednesday night, TVNewser stopped by Trader Vic’s at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. The occassion: the launch of VegasHD, also known as Robin Leach‘s fourth act. Leach headlined the event for a small gathering of NAB attendees. Vegas HD, with support from Sony, has wired the city for HD transmission. There are “drops” at the Planet Hollywood, as well as at the Golden Nugget downtown and off the strip at the Palms Hotel & Casino. VegasHD will help facilitate for the production of a live broadcast in HiDef for any broadcaster who needs it.

Leach went through a litany of “they said it wouldn’t works” talking about his early days with CNN, then as host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and finally his work with Food Network. “And every time it worked,” saying it will again with VegasHD. He then added, “From now on what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.”

After the jump, a hotel room observation…

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John King: Past, Present & Future

King_4.18.jpgTVNewser caught up with CNN’s John King after he moderated a panel at this week’s NAB-RTNDA conference. And we were all excited because it was going to be our first video interview. The image to the left is what we got. That’s what you get for $200 at B&H. We’ll try again soon, newsers.

After the jump, the transcript of the interview…

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The Future of News Viewing

livestation_4.17.jpgOf the more than 1,600 exhibitors trying to pitch their products to the more than 100,000 attendees at the NAB this week, we experienced, oh, five of them. Robotic traffic cameras, HD transmitters and portable satellite uplink units are not the stuff of TVNewser. But one new product launch is. Because it might just be coming to a desktop near you.

Livestation allows users to watch 24-hour news networks on their computer, in real time. Not clips; not webcasts; but the actual channel, live. So far, in beta testing, those networks include ITN, BBC, SkyNews, Al Jazeera and several others. Over the next few months the founders of Livestation will be making their pitch to American channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

The downloadable platform is the branchild of physicist-turned-Internet entrepreneur Matteo Berlucchi. “It’s about three things,” Berlucchi tells TVNewser. “Choice, alerts and social networking.” The choice comes from the aggregation of the news channels so you can watch what you want, when you want. Seconly, Livestation will also include message alert technology pioneered by another of Berlucchi’s companies; lastly, the social networking tools will include IM, so you might be at work in New York watching BBC, and message your friend in Hong Kong to watch too.

• The business model, the challenges and a first-ever photo, after the jump…

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“We’re Going to Play a Vital Role, Or Become Obsolete”


(l-r) Stan Cloud, author of The Murrow Boys, Mark Effron, president & COO of TitanTV, Marci Burdick, senior VP of Schurz Communications, ABC’s John Cochran, Dr. Betty Winfield, author of The Edward R. Murrow Heritage, CBS Radio News president Harvey Nagler and KOMU-TV news director Stacey Woelfel.

The closing session of this year’s RTNDA conference pondered the question “What Would Murrow Do?” The discussion was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow‘s “wires and lights in a box” speech made to the RTNDA conference on Oct. 15, 1958. The panel was made up of Murrow authors as well as TV and radio executives, and moderated by ABC’s John Cochran, (who said he’s probably the only person in the room who’d actually met the legendary CBS Newsman; when Cochran was 21-year-old Army staffer working at the Kennedy White House).

The panel did as little “hand wringing” as possible about the current state of the industry (something they all promised to refrain from doing) but instead wondered what Murrow would think of the news media today. “He would have his own show on the History Channel, or Discovery or PBS and a website for investigations,” said Shurz Communications senior VP Marci Burdick.

The talk quickly turned to the opportunities and challenges the sheer number of media outlets can present. “You can decide on your own, not from one or four sources, but from 20 sources. I think Murrow would smile at that,” said former MSNBC VP Mark Effron. Dr. Betty Winfield took a more pessimistic view of the current state of affairs suggesting the networks themselves monitor blogs. So a reader would know “this is a lie or this is not true.”

And as for the digitization of the business, which, in some cases, has lead to job loses, Effron, now with digital media company TitanTV cautioned, “[Journalists] are going to play a vital role in the future of news or become obsolete,” said Effron.

Cochran ended the discussion with a message to the young journalists in the room, that there are other Murrows out there. These days, Cochran said, “We at ABC ask, ‘what would Peter do?’”

Making Magic at the NAB

Blogging from the 2008 NAB-RTNDA conference in Las Vegas.


John King eat your heart out. The real maestro of the Magic Wall, Jeff Han, founder and chief scientist of Perceptive Pixel, gave TVNewser an up close look at the technology today at the NAB show in Las Vegas. And this baby can do more than just tell you which Pennsylvania counties will go for Obama and which will go for Clinton. As is evidenced by the image overload on the screen.

Han did tell us King patented the “two finger swipe,” where a swath of the country can be highlighted with two lines drawn by two fingers of the same hand. As one Perceptive Pixel rep joked, “you have the bible belt, the borscht belt and the bitter belt.”

Scene at NAB-RTNDA Inside and Out

Blogging from the 2008 NAB-RTNDA conference in Las Vegas.


Fox News Channel airs on the monitors inside the resturant (and the nearby Starbucks) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

And look who’s outside…


CNN Newsource, the affiliate news service, has a tent where local station clients meet with Newsource managers.