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Posts Tagged ‘Sam Feist’

Networks, Candidates Divided Over Use of Split-Screen Shot During Debate Coverage

As the networks gear up for the second debate of election season, the New York Times shines a spotlight on a common element of debate coverage: the split-screen shot, which has “long bedeviled presidential candidates who — no matter how many times they are reminded — seem to sometimes forget that they are still on camera even when they are not speaking.”

The major networks and cable news outlets — ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News — all say they plan to use split-screen shots regularly throughout the vice-presidential debate. Fox said it was even considering using them more than it did during the presidential debate last week in Denver.

Campaigns have tried with varying degrees of success to limit television networks from using what are known as “reaction shots” of candidates. … But what the candidates demand and what the networks actually televise are often two different things. By now, the split screen has become just another device to keep viewers stimulated, a product of the 24-7 news cycle like the breaking news crawl at the bottom of the screen.

“We want to give our viewers the opportunity to see both candidates as frequently as possible,” said Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief. “In a presidential debate, the image of the candidate who is listening is frequently as interesting as the candidate who is talking.”

Sam Feist: CNN To ‘Use Every Tool At Our Disposal’ To Help Viewers Make Sense Of Debate

Because essentially every network will be showing the same video feed for the debate tonight, it is up to the producers at each channel to figure out what they can do differently.

Pre and post-debate analysis are a given, but CNN is also planning to change things up during the debate too. Taking advantage of the HD screen space, CNN plans to have an audience reaction meter from focus groups at the bottom of the screen, where the “flipper” normally is. CNN had a similar graphical gimmick in 2008. CNN also plans to put the question asked by the moderator on the screen, allowing viewers to see for themselves whether a candidate is dodging the question. Finally, CNN will have a clock displaying the amount of time each candidate speaks for.

“In some debates candidates get more time than in others,” CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist tells TVNewser. “The campaigns track it, journalists track it and this time the viewers will be able to track it, without a stopwatch.”

Of course, CNN is not forgetting the bread and butter of cable news debate coverage: the analysis.

“We will use every tool at our disposal to help our views understand who had a successful debate and who didn’t, who won and who accomplished what they hoped to accomplish.”

CNN Memos on Supreme Court Gaffe: ‘Today we failed to adhere to our own standard’

Executives at CNN and sent memos to staff yesterday, promising investigations into exactly what happened when the network incorrectly reported that the Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate in President Obama’s healthcare bill.

The Washington Post has the memo from CNN DC bureau chief Sam Feist, who told staff:

Today we failed to adhere to our own standard, namely it’s better to be right than to be first. We take mistakes seriously, especially mistakes on such important stories. We are looking into exactly what happened and we will learn from it.

Feist went on to note that the network corrected itself on every platform, and that its coverage after 10:20 was of an extremely high quality.

Poynter has the memo from CNN Digital managing editor and VP Meredith Artley, who said:
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CNN’s New Model: CNBC?

Politico asks a question that has been asked a number of times over the last couple of years: “What’s Wrong at CNN?”

There are a number of familiar refrains, including the fact that MSNBC and Fox News are heavy on primarily partisan politics, which is a more reliable ratings strategy than CNN’s goal of being the place for breaking news. There are also complaints about the network’s editorial strategy, but you see that anytime a network has ratings issues.

Also, the fact that CNN makes $600 million in profits is mentioned, although that includes CNN/US, CNN International, HLN, and every other CNN property, so it isn’t clear how much profit CNN/US generates on its own.

More interesting to me are some comments made by CNN DC bureau chief Sam Feist.

In meetings, Feist has said that people should think of CNN as a premium channel for news, the way CNBC is a premium channel for finance. That thinking benefits CNN because people never judge CNBC based on its ratings, which are very low. But it is also a radical admission for a network that, from its launch in 1980 until 10 years ago, was the leading cable news network on television — and one that the industry may therefore have a hard time taking seriously.

The comparison to CNBC is understandable, but misguided.

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TIME & People Throw WHCA Cocktail Party

The parties are underway in Washington D.C. ahead of the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Last night at the St. Regis, TIME and People threw a cocktail party with drop-ins from a bunch of boldface tvnewsers all enjoying custom flavored custards by Shake Shack.

TIME‘s Managing Editor Rick Stengel (below with Savannah Guthrie) along with and DC bureau chief Michael Duffy, People‘s Managing Editor Larry Hackett, and DC correspondent Sandra Sobieraj Westfall hosted the party.

Spotted at the party: Gayle King (below with Andrea Mitchell), Chris Matthews, Julie Chen and hubby CBS CEO Les Moonves (right with Wolf Blitzer), Greta Van Susteren, Wolf Blitzer, , Thomas Roberts, Kelly O’Donnell, Ed Henry, Willie Geist, Dana Bash, Erica Hill, Chris Wallace, Tamron Hall, Norah O’Donnell, Alex Wagner, Donna Brazile; ABC News president Ben Sherwood, NBC News president Steve Capus, “Meet the Press” EP Betsy Fischer and “Face the Nation” EP Mary Hager also CNN execs Mark Whitaker and Sam Feist.

(Photos: Getty Images)

Iowans Edith and Carolyn go to Washington

Look who just made an impromptu visit to the CNN DC bureau.

Meet Edith and Carolyn of Clinton County, Iowa fame. Edith Pfeffer and Carolyn Tallet famously joined Wolf Blitzer and John King on the phone in the early morning hours — just after 2amET — of Wednesday, Jan. 4, to sort out some unaccounted-for votes from the Iowa Caucuses.

Edith and Carolyn got in touch with the DC bureau last night to say they were in Washington to meet with a congressmen on a highway bill. And so they stopped in this morning to see the bureau and meet some staffers. They also posed for a photo with Blitzer and execs Sam Feist (far left) and Eric Sherling (far right).

Debates Done? Maybe Not

B&C’s Andrea Morabito previews “Super Tuesday,” speaking to CNN’s Sam Feist, NBC’s Chuck Todd and ABC’s Amy Walter (subscription required).

Todd notes that depending on what happens on Super Tuesday, there may be more GOP debates to come:

But those in TV news also are not willing to call it quits on the debates just yet. Just as in 2008, when more debates were added as the Democratic race for the nomination stretched late into the cycle, they are expecting that a split decision this Super Tuesday would mean more debates added to the calendar.

“We’re looking to put a debate together; too many states haven’t voted,” Todd said. “You could make an argument that there ought to be a debate a month between now and June.”

CNN Responds to Criticism Over Catholic Church, Birth Control Mandate Story

CNN SVP and DC bureau chief Sam Feist fired off a letter to Brent Bozell, of the Media Research Center, after Bozell had criticized CNN, and other networks, for the lack of coverage of the Obama administration’s rule requiring religious schools and hospitals to provide employees with access to free birth control.

On Monday Bozell, founder of the conservative MRC wrote, “The broadcast and cable television networks need to report the current, unprecedented assault against freedom of religion in this country,” and singled out ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN as networks that had under-covered the story.

“We would respectfully request that you update your story and credit CNN with being among those that have been out front on this important story,” Feist writes to Bozell. “I would like to draw your attention to your own MRC/Newsbusters piece written by Tim Graham that credited CNN’s Candy Crowley with raising this issue on CNN’s State of the Union Program.”

TVNewser caught up with Bozell as he was catching a flight this afternoon. He’s gotten Feist’s letter and acknowledges, “Candy Crowley did a very good report, but one good report does not good network coverage make.”

“They were some 10 days late in getting into the story on CNN,” says Bozell, adding, “Everyone was minutes from reporting the Komen story. So, CNN could do a better job.”

See Feist’s letter after the jump…

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Lizzie O’Leary leaves Bloomberg TV For CNN

Bloomberg TV Washington DC correspondent Lizzie O’Leary is leaving the business channel for CNN. O’Leary will be CNN’s aviation and regulation corespondent, reporting on all facets of transportation, as well as DC’s regulatory agencies.

“Lizzie brings to the beat everything we’re looking for,” said CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist in a statement. “She is a smart and experienced reporter, and I look forward to Lizzie joining our ranks as we expand reporting out of the Washington bureau.”

More below.

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Rick Perry Qualifies for CNN South Carolina Debate… Barely

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry came extremely close to being excluded from CNN’s upcoming debate in South Carolina. Two weeks ago CNN posted its criteria for inclusion, with a candidate having to achieve one of four criteria in order to participate. Among them: placing in the top four in either Iowa or New Hampshire, or having at least seven percent support in three national or South Carolina polls conducted in January.

According to Talking Points Memo, Perry did not appear to qualify for any of those criteria, but a clarification from CNN DC bureau chief Sam Feist indicates that he did… albeit barely.

Perry was at seven percent in two national polls, but a third poll, from CBS News, asked the same question twice, one of which had him at seven percent, and the other at six percent. Even if it was only six percent, Feist said Perry would have qualified:

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