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Archives: June 2009

Brian Williams Keeps Newbie Dylan Ratigan in Line

So, this is D-Day on MSNBC. Debut day for two new dayside shows and the network’s roll-out in HD. It’s a roll-out in that the channel is not yet available in HiDef on all cable systems, including Manhattan’s Time Warner cable. Anyway, the Newscast Studio blog has some screengrabs of the HD look.

This morning also saw the debut of “Morning Meeting” hosted by former CNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan. In the video below, Brian Williams gives some professional advice to Ratigan. And catch how Dylan almost says “CNBC” instead of “MSNBC:”

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

> More: B&C’s Marissa Guthrie has more on MSNBC in HD and the new shows. Says network president Phil Griffin: “We’re changing dayside away from the TelePrompTer headline news to Dylan Ratigan and Dr. Nancy. And we’ll continue to do that less–of people sitting behind a desk, reading TelePrompTers.”

TV News Snapshot – 11:35amET. June 29, 2009

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Reporting times of the Bernard Madoff sentencing:

FBN — 11:32:56
CNBC — 11:32:58
FNC — 11:33:09
MSNBC — 11:33:19
CNN — 11:33:56

Friday Ratings – Michael Jackson Specials

NBC and ABC devoted much of their Friday night schedules to both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. And unlike Thursday night, on Friday NBC came out on top.

8pm:

NBC – “Farrah’s Story” — 3.88M Total Viewers

9pm

NBC – “Farrah’s Story” — 5.37M

ABC – “Michael Jackson: The Man and His Music” — 3.74M

10pm:

NBC – “Michael Jackson: The King of Pop” — 6.64M

ABC – “20/20″ — 6.03M

NBC won primetime averaging 5.30M Total Viewers; CBS was second with drama reruns (4.67M); ABC was third with sitcoms at 8ET and the news programs at 9 and 10 (4.0M).

Bending the Rules to Report the Story

The NYTimes’ Brian Stelter looks at the how the reporting on the Iran crisis is bending most conventional rules of journalism — due in large part because journalists aren’t allowed in the country too cover what’s going on. That includes CNN’s iReports.

In the vetting process, CNN contacts the person who posted the material, asks questions about the content and tries to confirm its veracity. Lila King, the executive in charge of iReport, said the staff members try to “triangulate the details” of an event by corroborating stories with multiple iReport contributors in a given area. Farsi speakers at CNN sometimes listened intently to the sound from the protest videos, discerning the accents of Iranian cities and transcribing the chants and screams.</blockquote

But the iReports are just one way citizen journalists are reporting the story. Cable and broadcast networks are also relying on YouTube and Twitter for information.

Television anchors were frequently put in the same position while covering Iran. Last Wednesday, the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith showed a YouTube video of police officials beating and dragging people. “We do not know when or where this video was from,” Mr. Smith told viewers. “We do not even know if it was staged, although we have no reason to believe that.” All he knew for sure was that it was “recently uploaded to YouTube.” For news organizations that face reporting constraints, that has become a good enough starting point.


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In a CNN iReport video added to the site today, a citizen journalist in Tehran captures what is presumably a member of the Iranian military shooting on crowds below. Click on the image to see the video

Health News Injected with Opinion

Snyderman_6.28.jpgBeginning at NoonET today, MSNBC is devoting an hour every weekday to health news with the new show “Dr. Nancy” anchored by Dr. Nancy Snyderman. The show continues MSNBC’s goal of programming with personality — crafting shows around known names in the TV news world and who come armed with a point of view. Howard Kurtz profiles Snyderman who spent 17 years at ABC News before leaving TV, then returning to NBC.

Feeling she had hit a ceiling at the network, where Diane Sawyer had gotten the “GMA” host’s job she coveted, Snyderman joined Johnson & Johnson for five years, during which she gave up her surgery practice. But she grew bored by the plodding pace of corporate life, and in 2006 NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker lured her to his network. ABC also wanted her back, and “I felt very disloyal not going home,” she says.

By tapping NBC’s chief medical editor, a former pediatrician and cancer surgeon who says she “hounded” her bosses for a cable show, Griffin is getting a highly opinionated woman who delivers her views with a soothing bedside manner — most of the time, at least.

And in addition to giving a health spin to the news of the day (the show could do a Jon & Kate segment asking “‘Is divorce better than separation?,’” says EP Shannon High), expect a lot on health care reform.

She has a view on almost every personal health question — dark chocolate is good for you, no one needs eight glasses of water a day — and is engrossed in the debate over President Obama’s health-care plan, which will be a major focus of “Dr. Nancy.” “We want the best health care in the world, we don’t want to pay for it…It’s easy to bash doctors, until you get sick,” she says.

Dana Milbank vs. Nico Pitney: It’s On.

This morning on CNN’s Reliable Sources, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank and Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney faced off over Pitney’s question last week at Pres. Obama’s news conference.

Milbank’s point: “I believe that whether it’s Nico Pitney, with ‘The Huffington Post,’ or whether it’s Carl Cameron, with Fox News, the White House should not be calling somebody the night before saying, we are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular subject asked in a certain way.”

Pitney held his own trying to explain the White House involvement, but then the conversation turned to Milbank’s reporting during the Bush administration.

At one point, host Howard Kurtz said, “You two are going to have to take this outside.” A CNN edited version of the segment below:

Embedded video from CNN Video

TV Pitchman Billy Mays Found Dead in His Tampa Home

Mays_6.28.jpgEven as infomercials he hosted aired on local stations across the country this morning, the cable news channels were reporting on the death of pitchman Billy Mays.

50-year-old Mays was found unresponsive by his wife in his Tampa home this morning. Mays was on board a US Airways flight yesterday that made an emergency landing in Tampa after its front tires blew out. It is unsure whether Mays’ death was related to the incident.

MSNBC and Fox News reported Mays’ death at 11:43amET. At the same time, on stations including WTKR in Norfolk and WPIX in New York, a paid advertisement hosted by Mays for the Omni Dual Saw was airing. CNN first reported the news at 2:12pmET.

Mays also co-hosted the program “Pitchmen” which debuted just two months ago on Discovery Channel.

MSNBC Buys the Rights to “Living with Michael Jackson”

MSNBC_6.27.jpgMSNBC has bought the rights to “Living with Michael Jackson.” First aired in the U.S. on ABC, British journalist Martin Bashir, who now works for ABC News as an anchor of “Nightline,” spent eight months with Jackson in 2002-’03. It is one of the most intimate looks at Jackson’s life; as the pop star goes on a lavish Las Vegas spending spree, climbing his “giving tree” at Neverland Ranch, and taking part in an interview that would lead to his arrest, trial and acquittal for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy.

ABC News has been using portions of the special over the last few days. It’s not known if they will have to cease using the clips now that MSNBC has the rights to the special.

“Living with Michael Jackson” aired Saturday night and will air again tonight at 7pET, 8pET and 11pET.

MSNBC Tests New Graphics Look Ahead of Monday’s HD Debut

This morning, MSNBC’s live programming is using the new HD-ready graphics look, which is very different than what the network had been using. I’m not a graphics expert so indulge me — they are using a brighter cream-colored background and have added an upper bar with the networks’ “The Place for Politics” branding, followed by the live bug, and date, and then the MSNBC logo, upper right. The lower third banners are more compact. The ticker remains, as a scroll, unlike CNN’s “Flipper.” It’s a cleaner more modern look. And moving the logo upper right is a departure from most channels which keep them lower left or right. What do you think?

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Monday is also the debut of three new hours of programming between 9amET and 1pmET. Giving Dylan Ratigan two hours in the morning, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman the NoonET hour has meant MSNBC’s president Phil Griffin has had to shuffle other anchors. Contessa Brewer will anchor the 2pmET hour with rotating co-anchors including colleagues from CNBC. MSNBC Chief Washington correspondent Norah O’Donnell will fill in anchor and will ramp up her reporting for the Today show and news anchor duties on Weekend Today.

• After the jump a clip from 8amPT as MSNBC debuted the new look, music and sound effects…

Read more

Is “Fusion” a Stretch or the New Metric?

DailyFinance’s Jeff Bercovici takes an alternative look at the second quarter cable news ratings race which ends tomorrow. The idea? There’s more than one screen on which to consume a network’s news.

“We used to be a television business,” Jack Wakshlag, head of research for Turner Broadcasting tells Bercovici, whose site is run by AOL, about to be spun off from CNN’s parent, Time Warner. “We see our future in terms of being a multi-platform media company.”

As it happens, Nielsen, the ratings firm, recently started tracking such a metric. It’s called Nielsen Fusion, and it combines viewership and online usage data. The Fusion rankings for April show CNN with a commanding lead over both MSNBC and Fox News when it comes to reach among all viewers. (That’s looking at the full day, not just primetime.) CNN reached 125.3 million people in April, versus 105.5 milllion for MSNBC and 104.3 million for Fox.

That’s not really a surprise. CNN has always beaten Fox and MSNBC in reach, or cumulative audience. (Fox and MSNBC counter that advertisers make their buys based on ratings, not cumulative reach, which doesn’t reflect duration of viewership.)

And FNC’s response, “Apparently the sheer embarrassment of getting beat by both Headline News and MSNBC along with the continued implosion of Campbell Brown and Anderson Cooper has led CNN to its latest act of desperation,” a Fox News spokesman tells Bercovici. “We wish Jack well in continuing to defend their battle for fourth place.”

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