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State of the News Media

Canada’s CBC News Shows What Thoughtful Breaking News Coverage Really Looks Like

MansbridgeFor hours this afternoon, Canada’s CBC News covered the breaking news of at least three shooting incidents in Ottawa. Led by veteran anchor Peter Mansbridge, the rolling coverage was smart, careful, and absolutely un-American.

As Andy Carvin noted, Mansbridge set a respectful, careful tone, calling out interview subjects who had unconfirmed or contradictory information. “So much we could learn from his delivery today,” Carvin told me on Twitter.

On screen, CBC News kept a ticker scrolling, a “Breaking News” bug in the corner, a “LIVE” bug at the top right, and three boxes showing video and live pictures. Mansbridge rarely appeared on camera, even as he took pains to ensure information was correct before reporting anything–particularly the news a soldier shot at Ottawa’s War Memorial had died of his injuries.

As I watched via the network’s live stream in New York, I never heard a second of dramatic music, never saw a full-screen wipe with a catchy graphic like TERROR ON PARLIAMENT HILL, and never, ever heard Mansbridge or any of the CBC’s reporters dip even a toe into the waters of self-promotion.

Compared that to the American cable news networks, where we’ve come to expect that every prime time newscast will begin with urgent music and BREAKING NEWS–complete with multiple on-screen reminders that this is BREAKING NEWS of great importance. CBC’s coverage was, well, very Canadian. And to the nervous system of an American observer of TV news, it was decidedly strange to experience.

Mansbridge, in sharp contrast to the frenetic, breathless delivery we’ve come to expect from American news anchors in times of breaking news (including stories of far less significance than the attacks in Canada), was thoughtful, took his time, and seemed at times to pause, and to consider his words before speaking. Just. Imagine. That.
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Where Renee Zellweger Isn’t Trending

ZellweggerShe’s trending on Twitter, lighting up Facebook, and is on the front pages of dozens of websites, including and Even her Wikipedia page has been updated to reflect the discussion.

But there’s one place you won’t find chatter about Renee Zellweger‘s new look: cable news.

First, if you haven’t heard about it, here’s the backstory: Last night Zellweger walked the red carpet at the Elle magazine Women in Hollywood Awards. But, for many — millions really — it was hard to determine if this really was the Bridget Jones star, or someone who sorta looked like her.

As for how this “news” has been reported, as we said it’s on fire on social media and entertainment shows like “The Talk,” “Inside Edition,” and “Access Hollywood Live,” but not on cable news. The question is whether tomorrow’s network morning shows (we’re looking at you “GMA” and “Today”) will discuss it.

> Update: The three network morning shows all covered Zellweger’s new look on Oct. 22. “GMA” included it in the 7am open with a report at 7:38am, “Today” discussed the story at 7:45am and “CBS This Morning” talked about it at 8:31am.

Comcast Shareholders Approve Time Warner Cable Merger

ComcastTWCMore than 99% of Comcast shareholders voted this morning in support of the company’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable. TWC shareholders, who are expected to vote on the merger tomorrow, would get 2.875 shares of Comcast Class A stock for every one of their TWC shares. The $45 Billion merger, announced in February, still needs to clear the Federal Communications Commission.

Last Friday, the FCC pushed its deadline to hear public comment on the merger to Oct. 29. It had been set for today. The FCC’s review is expected to be complete in early 2015. The Department of Justice is also reviewing the merger for possible antitrust matters.

Dan Rather: Current Evening News Anchors ‘Have the Goods’

dan rather_304x200Dan Rather thinks the current evening news anchors have the talent to carry the tradition forward.

“They have the goods,” Rather said during an interview with The Huffington Post’s Roy Sekoff at Advertising Week yesterday about today’s evening news anchors (he stipulated he doesn’t know new “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir).

“They want to walk in the steps, they want to keep the flame burning, but it’s extremely difficult to do under the circumstances.”

Those circumstances, according to Rather, are “operating within the system.” That system features corporate media restraining journalists from challenging powerful government officials, institutions, and corporations. The former “CBS Evening News” anchor’s controversial CBS exit will be depicted on the big screen in 2016: Robert Redford signed on to play Rather in “Rathergate” in July.

Rather on the evening news after the jump (around the 45:30 mark).


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Syracuse Cuts Ribbon on Upgrades At S.I. Newhouse School

LichtControlRoomCBS News VP Chris Licht now has a TV news control room named for him. It’s one of the new control rooms at Syracuse University’s new Dick Clark Studios and Alan Gerry Center for Media Innovation.

The $18 million upgrade at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications includes five studios, replacing two studios, built decades ago and used by countless Syracuse alum including Ted Koppel, Bob Costas, Steve Kroft, Jeff Glor, Contessa Brewer and Licht.

Oprah Winfrey was the featured guest at today’s celebration. The two major donations of $5 million each, came from the Dick Clark estate (Clark is a 1951 Syracuse graduate) and Alan Gerry, the founder of Cablevision Industries.

Web Videos Broaden Scope of TV Newsmags

Increasingly, TV newsmagazines are reaching out to viewers with digital shorts leading up, or even following, longer TV reports.

“60 Minutes” takes viewers behind the scenes with “60 Minutes Overtime.” “48 Hours” produces Web Extras, like this tour of a Costa Rican hideaway that was the scene of a crime at the center of tomorrow night’s season premiere. “Dateline” went so far as to produce a web-only episode on the Oscar Pistorius verdict a few weeks ago.

“It’s not just extra material,” says Terri Lichstein who oversees digital for ABC’s “20/20.” “It’s very new, very original. They are companion pieces.”

Lichstein was also the senior producer for tonight’s “20/20″ season debut, as David Muir investigates the Slender Man stabbing in Wisconsin. Lichstein ordered up a web-only piece to familiarize viewers on the Slender Man phenomenon. “It’s the kind of thing people want to know,” Lichstein tells TVNewser. “This takes the digital experience in terms of storytelling one step further.” WATCH:

Drones Approved For Making Movies. How Long Before They’re Approved for TV News?

SandersDroneThe network morning shows used as-yet-approved TV news technology to report on the just approved motion picture industry use of drones.

On Thursday, the FAA cleared the way for six film companies to use drones for film-making purposes.

Jeff Pegues reported the story for “CBS This Morning,” holding a drone outside a Washington, DC movie theater. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reported for the “Today” show from Aerial MOB in San Diego, one of the FAA-approved drone companies. (Both Pegeus and Sanders began their stories with a scene from “Skyfall,” the latest James Bond film, which was filmed, in Istanbul, using a drone.)

Sanders had a 2-camera live intro (after the jump), including what’s believed to be the first live national broadcast under the new FAA guidelines. (If you’re wondering whether Sanders’ use of the drone was legal, since his was for news-gathering purposes, the “Today” crew was in a hanger and therefore not in FAA-controlled air space.)

As we discussed at the TVNewser Summit in April, TV news is one of the industries in the FAA line to start using drones legally.

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Charlo Greene Lights Up During Interview

CharloGreeneWeedFormer Anchorage TV reporter Charlo Greene lit up a marijuana joint while being interviewed on HuffPost Live today.

Greene, who famously quit her job live on KTVA Sunday night, agrees with her former news director who said she violated “the basic bedrock of responsible journalism,” by not revealing that she had a business interest in legalized marijuana in Alaska, while reporting stories on am upcoming ballot initiative. If she had told him, Green says, she “would have been fired. Period. I wasn’t ready for that to happen.”

Then, toward the end of the interview, Huff Post Live anchor Alyona Minkovski asked, “Are you waiting until the interview’s over to spark it up?”

“No, I’ll spark it up right now,” Greene said. “I’m in the privacy of my own home.”

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Neighbor Had Taken Out Restraining Order Against Fired Alaska Reporter

CharloGreeneCharlo Greene‘s foul-mouthed exit from KTVA in Anchorage Sunday night has now been viewed 6.8 million times  — 23 times the population of the Alaska city. That kind of attention has led to some digging into Greene — real name Charlene Ebge. TMZ reports that a neighbor had taken a restraining order out on her earlier this month.

Tyler Gilbrech tells TMZ Charlo and her boyfriend moved into the apartment above his in June, and claims she immediately started stinking up the place with so much reefer his 4-yr-old daughter became violently sick from the fumes seeping through the walls. According to court docs Charlo harassed and threatened Tyler several times — telling him to “watch his back.”

Greene is the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club. And like any 2014 entrepreneur, she’s gone to the masses for support. In a fundraising video on IndieGogo Greene says, “I’m making it my life work to uphold what America stands for truly: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And legal weed.

America’s Trust in Mass Media Declining Again

After a small uptick in recent years, America’s trust in media is declining again, according to a new Gallup poll.

Out of the over 1,000 people surveyed, 40% trust the mass media, a four-percentage-point drop from last year.


On the political end, the poll found a 14-year low among Democrats in terms of trusting the media. A large percentage continue to believe the news media is too liberal (44%) but the opposite viewpoint is gathering steam. 19% of Americans think the media is too conservative; a six-point spike from last year and the highest percentage in that category in eight years.

Do you agree with the poll’s findings? Comment below.

(Poll image courtesy of Gallup)