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NAB-RTNDA

Covering Campaigns and Jumping out of Planes

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

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NBC’s Ron Allen and ABC’s Sam Donaldson on the big screen at this morning’s NAB Super Session: a discussion about the 2008 Presidential race.

As RTNDA chairwoman Barabara Cochran put it in her introduction, “over a century of political reporting” took to the stage this morning at the NAB-RTNDA conference in Las Vegas. CNN’s John King (first election reporting gig, 1988) moderated a discussion of the 2008 campaigns with NBC’s Ron Allen, 40-year ABC vet Sam Donaldson, former ABC correspondent Linda Douglass, now with National Journal, as well as John Harris of Politico.com and Peter Maer of CBS News radio.

In addition to talking about the candidates, the campaigns, and the issues, King asked about the media’s role this time around: “do [the candidates] treat us differently?” Yes, was the answer.

“They have had to deal with a lot of cameras,” said NBC’s Allen. And blogs too. Donaldson told a story about being with a group of “20-something” staffers at ABC in New York and how they were buzzing about the importance of Perez Hilton‘s support of Hillary Clinton. “I don’t know why anyone would want that” but “he matters.”

And the political story that continues to resonate even today, Sen. Obama’s “bitter” pill. Douglass talked about how that story came, not from a reporter, but an Obama supporter, who wrote about it on the Huffington Post. “There was no editor…she is not getting paid.” Stories “do not adhere” to standards including “accuracy.”

As for how a new president will affect broadcasters and journalists, Douglass said all three candidates are against expanding ownership. If you’re big media planning to get bigger, “all three will give you heartburn.” Maer added, “all three are for shield laws” which protect journalists and their sources.

Click continued for more pictures, the story of John King’s jeans and Sam Donaldson’s big leap…

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Newsers Get Down to Business

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

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Patti Dennis, VP/news director at KUSA-TV: Lynn Jimenez, business reporter for KGO-AM; Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, chief strategist for Charles Schwab; and FBN’s Stuart Varney participate in a financial reporting discussion.

Fox Business Network anchor Stuart Varney moderated a discussion on the business of business reporting. With the U.S. economy either in or nearing a recession, the talk took on a more urgent tone about the importance of including business reporting in local news broadcasts.

KGO reporter Lynn Jimenez talked about how being a business reporter meant being a reporter, first. “Last week I was covering the [elusive] torch relay” through San Francisco. To which someone in the audience joked “when you could find it.”

At the end, Varney asked the crowd made up of reporters, producers and news managers, what the importance of business reporting boils down to: “To educate the public” or “for ratings.” Most of the crowd rose their hands for the former.

Donaldson: “People in This Business Are Doing a Better Job Than Ever Before”

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

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ABC’s Sam Donaldson was honored with the RTNDA’s Paul White Award for showing “a commitment to service and a passion for excellence.” And the passion was in effect Monday night at the Las Vegas Hilton. Donaldson gave a rousing if a bit rambling speech with mentions of Kennedy and Nixon, Reagan and Stockdale. Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Matt Drudge and Perez Hilton.

Donaldson talked about the others honored before him: Ted Koppel, “best interviewer that we’ve had:” Charles Osgood, “the gentle giant of our business” and Christiane Amanpour, “who knows everyone of consequence in the world.”

Said Donaldson, “I’m not quite certain why I’m here.” Twice a White House correspondent, and former co-anchor of Prime Time Live and This Week, Donaldson now anchors Politics Live on ABC News Now. “I think that there are dozens of people watching,” he joked.

And while this old school journalist is at the forefront of new media (he anchored the first Webcast for ABC in 1999), he still recognizes the challenges. “Today the problem, of course, there’s no time to edit it, to look at it. The number of Web sites and cable channels, the fragmentation,” Donaldson lamented. But he is proud of the electronic journalism he sees. “I think, in general, people in this business are doing a better job than ever before”

Toy Story: Newsers Talk Product Safety

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

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Simon Marks of Fox News and The Newshour, moderated a panel discussion on consumer product safety in an increasingly globalized world. I know, it sounds stimulating. But it was actually very informative. Marks who, in addition to correspondent duties for FNC and PBS, is also president of Feature Story News.

On the panel (l-r) Gretchen Stanton of the World Trade Organization, Kerry Sanders of NBC News, and former CBS and ABC News correspondent Roberta Baskin who now heads up the investigative unit at WJLA in Washington, DC.

Mike Boettcher’s New Tour of Duty

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

Boettcher_4.14.jpgTVNewser caught up with former CNN and NBC News correspondent Mike Boettcher late this afternoon as he tries to drum up support for his new mission.

In an effort called NoIgnoring.com, Boettcher has arranged with the U.S. military to begin a 15-month embed with soldiers fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His reports will be in the forms of blogs and vlogs and he’s offering the content free to the Web sites of local stations around the country. He’ll pay for it through advertising on his own site.

But he’s not doing it alone, his 21-year-old son Carlos, a senior at George Washington University has asked to go along with him. Boettcher tells us the 15-month embed will only allow for 18 days home, “same as the soldiers who are fighting,” he says.

In a pamphlet he is handing out to the nation’s news directors, gathered in Las Vegas this week, Boettcher writes, “NBC News has granted my request to release me from my contact early. So now I will embark on my new journey.”

Mike and Carlos Boettcher are set to leave in a month. Before that, Mike has meetings in Silicon Valley to finalize online plans and partnerships.

Charles Osgood Honored

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

NAB_Osgood_4.14.jpgThis morning CBS’s Charles Osgood joined a list that includes Ronald Reagan, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite as he was honored with the NAB Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes those who have made “significant and lasting contributions to the broadcasting industry.”

The anchor of CBS News “Sunday Morning” and the four-times daily “Osgood File” on CBS Radio, was humbled by the recognition. “And so here we are in Las Vegas, so I guess it’s real.” Osgood, who Charles Kuralt once called “one of the last great broadcast writers,” rhymed his acceptance speech a la Dr. Seuss. “We are old media, they say. I hate it when they talk that way,” went one line.

Before signing off with his trademark “see you on the Radio” Osgood’s closing line was subtle but seemed awfully timely: “Our fate is not in our stars, but in ourselves,” said the 40-year broadcast veteran.

Related: TVWeek interview with Osgood

“Apologies to Bill, Sean and Laura What’s-Her-Name”

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

NABRobbins_4.14.jpgAs he walked onto stage and into position for a Q and A session this morning, Tim Robbins said “I have a speech, but I don’t think I’m going to give it.” After some prodding from the audience the outspoken actor and critic of…well…many things, took to the podium, which left the moderator, former NY Daily News TV critic David Bianculli, now with NPR, almost speechless. Bianculli subsequently asked zero questions, but Robbins got his sarcasm-laced message across loud and clear.

The idea of an outspoken actor giving the keynote to the nation’s broadcasters was lost on many people, including Robbins himself. Speaking in the third person, he said “Mr. Robbins will speak about the challenges facing broadcasters and media delivery systems.” Adding, “I’m not sure what that fucking means.”

• To Radio & TV talkers and their criticism of his call for more weapons inspections in pre-war Iraq: “My apologies to Rush, Bill, Sean, Savage and Laura What’s-her-name. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have said such traitorous things.”

• To news execs: “Show me Night Rider drunk on the floor and I won’t care about a lack of health care for my kid.”

• To all: “We are in an abyss in our country. This is a nation divided, reeling from betrayal and economic hardship.”

Robbins joked that the “leftie obsession for information” was being drowned out by “Hollywood starlets getting out of cars without any panties on.” He called on “the leaders in this room” to “leave the focus groups behind” and look beyond the bottom line. “Instead of catering to gossips and voyeurs,” he said, “you can lift us up.”

The speech may have been too political for some, as a few of the 1,400 people in attendance walked out. But for the vast majority, evidenced by the standing ovation, Robbins hit his mark.

Dan Abrams Goes Mobile

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

NAB_Abrams_4.14.jpgThe verdict for Dan Abrams: he likes him some mobile content. Especially after the warm welcome he got this morning. Abrams moderated a panel discussion on a new standard that will allow all of us to watch live TV anytime, anywhere. (Our brother blog, MobileContentToday has more on the session.)

In his introduction of Abrams, the chairman of the OMVC, Brandon Burgess said it was “a pleasure to have someone” of Abrams’s “stature” moderate the new media discussion. Burgess went on to talk about Abrams’s 15 years with NBC News, his management of MSNBC, and his “new project,” his 9pmET show, Verdict.

After the gushing, Abrams jumped in with “good thing this is not scripted.”

• Also seen at the conference, former CNN and NBC correspondent Mike Boettcher with a stuffed backpack, and a posse of digi-heads planning their RTNDA-NAB coverage strategy.

Leading the Way During Breaking News

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CNN’s Kyra Phillips moderates a panel discussion about breaking news strategies at the 2008 RTNDA conference in Las Vegas. Julie Chin of KNX radio in Los Angeles talked about leading her team during three days of uninterrupted coverage of wildfires last fall.

Local news directors at the forefront of some of last year’s biggest breaking news stories discussed their leadership during those trying times that left their newsrooms stretched thin. Shane Moreland was news director at WSLS when Seung-Hui Cho went on a rampage at Virgina Tech. He praised his two “one-man” band reporters, actually two women, who worked at the station’s bureau in Blacksburg. Moreland talked about the challenges in getting information from local authorities, only to see one authority “show up on ABC World News:” the network “bigfoot, Moreland called it

Moreland also talked about Cho’s controversial manifesto video sent to NBC News. As the NBC affiliate, Moreland found himself in a special situation. “We had a one pass run” of the video, he explained. “We got a lot of negative feedback, but felt it was part of the story.”

Lindsay Radford was assistant news director at KSTP when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Radford was eight months pregnant and about to get the top job. KSTP had planned to announce ND Chris Berg was losing his job on August 2. The August 1 collapse of the bridge delayed that news a few days. Radford said of her leadership “I did what journalism is all about.”

CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, moderator of the panel, had some parting words for the three dozen or so students in the room: be alert and be around. “When I was an intern in San Diego I was asked to run out to do an interview,” Phillips said. Turns out the interview was with Mother Teresa. “I still have a rosary she gave me.”

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Newsers Gamble On the Future of The Biz

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The nation’s news leaders (and the companies that would like to sell them the latest and greatest in technology) are gathering in Las Vegas today for the RTNDA (Radio & TV News Directors Association) conference. Once again, RTNDA has timed its annual gathering with the much larger, tech-centric National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The NAB Show got underway Friday and includes more than 1,600 exhibitors showing off some of the products that could be coming to your desktop, soon. (We are particularly interested in checking out Livestation, whose senior strategist is former CNN exec Chris Cramer.)

Among the newsers taking part: Kyra Phillips of CNN moderates a panel later today on newsroom leadership; MSNBC’s Dan Abrams leads a panel discussion on Mobile TV initiatives (he’ll head back to Burbank for Monday’s Verdict); and later Monday, ABC’s Sam Donaldson is honored for his 50 years in the business. Also Monday, CBS’s Charles Osgood will be presented the Distinguished Service Award by the NAB. FBN’s Stuart Varney, NBC’s Kerry Sanders and CNN’s John King are on hand to either take part in or moderate panels.

The actor Tim Robbins gives the keynote Monday morning (I know, we said the same thing, Tim Robbins?). And Bob Barker comes on down for an induction into the NAB Hall of Fame.

TVNewser will be here to cover it all.

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