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State of the News Media

Should TV News Report Names of Mass Shooters?

Megyn KellyAs Megyn Kelly opened “The Kelly File” last night, she led with news that the suspected Ft. Hood shooter and four others were dead. She then told her viewers they’d need to go elsewhere to find out the shooter’s name.

“If you are interested, you can get his name on other shows, like the one that preceded this one,” Kelly told her viewers.

Shepard Smith preceded her in the 8pmET hour in place of the “O’Reilly Factor,” which was pre-empted. Smith and other Fox hosts named the shooter.

“We have decided not to name these mass killers as a policy here on ‘The Kelly File,’” she continued, saying she won’t help them achieve the “infamy they seek.”

After the open, Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin referenced the perpetrator as “the shooter,” while Kelly’s first guest, Rep. Michael McCaul, also declined to name the shooter out of respect for Kelly.

Now we’re asking you.

Is Coverage of Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight Anti-Journalism?

Cuomo planeMichael Wolff writes about the ongoing coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight today in The Guardian, calling it “anti-journalism.”

Wolff notes what journalism is supposed to provide—information—and why the lack of it in this story is satisfying viewers and cable news networks.

Journalism exists to provide information. But what’s really compelling is a lack of information – or what is more particularly being called “an absence of empirical data”.

I am hardly the only stick-in-the-mud to observe that the impending takeover of Crimea, a precise piece of geopolitical logistics and confrontation with a full menu of international implications – journalistic red meat – has been blown away by a story with no evident meaning, other than the likely bleak fate of most onboard.

It is, of course, an ideal story for the current journalism era because it costs nothing. Nobody has to go anywhere. Nobody has to cover the wreckage and the recovery. Not only is the story pretty much all just theories – but theories are cheap.

’60 Minutes’ Hovers Over Topic of Drone Use

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When New York local and national media descended on East Harlem Wednesday morning after two buildings exploded, Brian Wilson wasn’t far behind. And he brought along with his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, a camera-equipped drone that hovered over the scene of the devastation.

“I mostly use it to shoot real estate or sports events,” Wilson told the Daily News. “This was the first time I used it for breaking news.” But Matthew Schroyer, the founder of the Professional Society of Drone Journalism, calls Wilson’s actions “irresponsible” and “reckless.” The image shown above was taken by Wilson’s drone.

As we’ve been reporting on TVNewser and TVSpy, Wilson is among the pioneers in the brave new world of UAV newsgathering. As news divisions discuss how, or even if, to use drones, the federal government is exploring how to regulate them.

Tonight on “60 Minutes” Morley Safer explores the new world of commercial drones (clip after the jump) and talks with Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Diane Feinstein about her concerns.

And we’ll be debating the issue of drones in newsgathering at the TVNewser Show, April 29. Click here for more information.

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As Drones Take Off, Concerns Over Legality, Risk, Do Too

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The increasing use of drones by media companies is one of the topics we’ll be discussing at the TVNewser Show April 29. This post’s author, attorney C. Andrew Keisner, will be among the guests discussing the issue.

From advertising of real estate and car dealerships to filming Hollywood blockbusters to media coverage of sporting events, examples of advertising & media companies using light-weight UAVs, or Drones, is all around. However, when it comes to using such light-weight UAVs in the United States, the legal risks are frequently misunderstood. And although a recent judge’s decision rejecting a $10,000 fine imposed by the FAA is a welcome outcome for UAV operators and the advertising & media companies that engage them, there are still several risks that advertising & media companies should address before engaging a UAV operator to capture aerial footage.

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Glenn Beck: ‘I Hate Politics. I Always Have’

GlennBeck.Glenn Beck talks to National Review about his transition from HLN to Fox News to TheBlaze. Beck — who recently said that he “made a lot of mistakes” during his time at Fox News — reveals that he never saw his time in television news as a long-term career prospect:

A former top-40 DJ, Beck tells me that his foray into TV news wasn’t meant to be permanent. “I hate politics, I always have,” he says. He was working on a TV drama along the lines of HBO’s Newsroom — about the news of the day and the people who put it together — when, in 2006, he got a call from Headline News, CNN’s sister network.

“We thought, well, might as well get in and figure out how television works and learn on somebody else’s dime,” Beck says. When Fox News came calling in 2008 — he was lured there by Joel Cheatwood, a former CNN executive who had jumped to Fox and who has since joined Beck in his new venture — Beck says he considered that gig a temporary one, too. “I walked in and I really thought, I’ll do this for a while because somebody has to ring the bell and then I’ll get out, and I’m still waiting to be able to pass the bell on to somebody else. Haven’t found him yet, but . . . ” He trails off.

Will NewsmaxTV Be the QVC of News?

NewsmaxTVChris Ruddy is taking a business built on magazine subscriptions, newsletters, self-help books, and vitamin supplements and adding a cable channel to the mix.

Ruddy, the conservative (but registered Independent) co-founder of Newsmax, talks with BusinessWeek about his latest venture, NewsmaxTV, which, starting in June, will broadcast 9 hours a day from new studios in Boca Raton, FL. “Our goal is to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing,” he says. As for the business, Ruddy says he’s prepared to pay cable systems to carry the channel, and can make money in other ways, including selling Newsmax’s consumer products on TV.

Every viewer is a potential customer for his newsletters and vitamins. He’s also exploring partnerships with other conservative media entrepreneurs, including Glenn Beck and David Smith, CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI), which in 2013 bought Washington, D.C.’s ABC affiliate WJLA-TV from Allbritton Communications. “Cable channels are getting between $2 and $8 per subscriber per month in advertising. My view is I need to make 60¢ per subscriber to break even … if I’m paying about 25¢ per subscriber in programming and 35¢ to the distributor. I already have the infrastructure to easily do this.”

The network will remain free on the Web and hopes to be in about 50 million homes through Dish Network, DirecTV and several cable systems. It will be years before NewsmaxTV will be truly competitive with other cable news networks, especially the one it will emulate most, Fox News which has been the most-watched cable news channel for 12 years.  But Ruddy will still try: “If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable.”

Top TV Journalism School Adds Documentary Program

MUJournalismIf you didn’t go there, you probably know someone who did. The University of Missouri’s School of Journalism is one of the top programs in the country. And today the school has announced Stacey Woelfel, an associate professor and news director at KOMU-TV for the last 24 years, has been named the first director of the new Jonathan Murray Documentary Journalism Center.

The Murray Documentary Journalism Center is named for Jonathan Murray, the co-creator of MTV’s The Real World, Road Rules, and the Oxygen’s The Bad Girls Club. Earlier this month, Murray, a 1977 graduate of MU, donated $6.7 million to create the Center.

Woelfel will leave his job as news director of the NBC affiliate in September.

“Getting to know Stacey, I’ve been impressed by his quiet determination to get this documentary journalism program off the ground,” Murray said. “Stacey’s successful track record at the J-School and KOMU-TV, and his appreciation for what goes into making a great documentary, make him uniquely qualified to run the center and I am confident he’s the perfect person to pull together the necessary elements to make this an outstanding program.”

The new program will offer a bachelor of journalism degree beginning in the Fall of 2015, as well as a master of arts degree. The Center will also fund research in the field of documentary journalism. Coursework will focus on the history, business models, advocacy and advanced production of documentary journalism.

Should ABC News Have Revealed Jimmy Kimmel Wolf Video As a Prank?

ABC News was aware that a viral video, showing a wolf purportedly walking through the hallway of the athletes village in Sochi, was staged by Jimmy Kimmel. ABC News was told of the stunt as an off-the-record tip, and didn’t feel it had a responsibility to warn other news organizations.

“The world is seeing these kinds of videos more and more, and every news organization has to do its own reporting and own vetting to decide whether or not they want to print, air or say something,” ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told the AP’s David Bauder. “It is a piece of comedy. We need to keep that in perspective.”

NBC’s “Today” show and CNN aired the video last week, which first appeared on the Twitter feed of American luger Kate Hansen. Willie Geist, who called it “a little bit scary” on Thursday’s show, clarified Friday that they’d been duped by Kimmel. But he says they checked with Hansen before running the item, and she told the show, “it was me.” Bauder talks with news ethicists and purists about the stunt. They conclude that these kinds of incidents add to a growing distrust of the news media.

On Twitter Friday, Kimmel joked the whole thing was an “accident” and “won’t happen again.”

 

CNN Examines Media Coverage of 2013′s Biggest Stories

On “CNN Newsroom” this morning, Carol Costello hosted a panel discussion about media coverage of two of the year’s biggest stories: the George Zimmerman trial and the Boston Marathon bombing.

The panel was made up of CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, Steve Malzberg from the conservative Newsmax and Eric Boehlert from the liberal Media Matters. Although Boehlert mentioned Fox News’ coverage of the Zimmerman trial, the three mostly steered clear of mentioning CNN’s competitors by name. The panel also didn’t address CNN’s coverage of the two stories. Watch:

What do you think of the television news coverage of the Zimmerman trial and the Boston Marathon bombing? Let us know in the comments (but keep it civil, please).

The 10 Biggest TV News Stories of 2013

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How to describe a year in which TV news had more turnovers than Pepperidge Farm? Business as usual.

The dramatic departures and arrivals of A-List talent weren’t the only big story of 2013, of course. Two new networks launched. Fox News made some major changes in its prime-time lineup. Serious health issues affected at least three anchors. And CBS’s venerable ‘Sunday Morning’ continued to kick ass on the Sabbath.

Herewith my choices for TV news’ Top 10, in no particular order:

Open mouth, insert foot.

Hosts Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin both left MSNBC after making what could charitably be called offensive comments.

On his November 15 broadcast, Bashir suggested that someone should defecate in the mouth of ex-vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin because of remarks she had made about slavery. Instead, it was Bashir who was forced to eat doo-doo. He resigned Dec. 4.

Actor-activist Baldwin hit the bricks Nov. 26, two weeks after he was caught on video calling a paparazzi a ‘cocksucking fag.’ His weekly show, ‘Up Late,’ lasted exactly five episodes. Maybe replacing ‘Lockup’ was bad karma.

Lara’s theme.

Ace ’60 Minutes’ correspondent Lara Logan was forced to take a leave of absence after her October 27 piece on the Benghazi attack was discredited. Politico says she’ll return early next month. CBS isn’t talking.

A CBS internal inquiry labeled Logan’s report ‘deficient in several respects.’ Among them: Over a full year’s reporting, she and her team somehow missed the fact that her major source, security contractor Dylan Davies, was a liar. Oops.

In a dubious distinction, Logan’s story led to ‘60’ winning Poynter’s Error of the Year award. If you call that winning.

A pair of newbies.

While other networks endured layoffs, two new cable channels debuted — Al Jazeera America on August 20 and Fusion on October 28.

AJA hired hundreds of journalists and staff – including many from U.S. networks. Among them: CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, its first big-name hire; CNN International’s Joie Chen; MSNBC exile David Shuster and NBC’s John Seigenthaler.

AJA, whose corporate parent is based in Qatar, boasts 12 domestic bureaus and three broadcast centers. It reaches about 48 million homes.

Fusion, a joint production of Disney-ABC and Univision, features news and pop-culture fare targeted at English-speaking millenials. Based outside of Miami, it represents Univision’s first major foray into English-language programming.

Would you like your anchors scrambled or poached?

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