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News Notes

After Another ‘Conan’ Segment, WECT ND Calls Identical Scripts ‘Embarrassing’

Poynter takes a look at the origins of an identical script — about Mike Myers expecting another child — that was read by 29 anchors across the country. The video aired on “Conan,” with Conan O’Brien sarcastically noting, “local news found a really unique way to tell the story.”

WECT news director Scott Saxton said the line came from CNN News Source wire copy as part of a “Hollywood Minute” segment. “It was a bad representation of our station,” Saxton told Poynter. “It’s embarrassing and unacceptable, and we’ve addressed it within the team.”

This isn’t the first time O’Brien has called out local stations for using identical scripts: there was the story about the election, one about Hostess’ bankruptcy, another about Cyber Monday and even one about O’Brien himself.

RTDNA Reminds Newsrooms to Have a Disaster Plan

rtdna logo_304x200Many of us think we can handle anything that comes our way. But as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

With that in mind, RTDNA is offering tips to prepare journalists for action after being metaphorically punched in the mouth by a tornado, hurricane or even earthquake..

Do crisis plans work? Because of advance planning, the radio and television stations of New Orleans were able to continue broadcasting in the wake of the storm, the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota never missed an issue and KBJR-TV in Minnesota didn’t miss a single newscast despite the disaster. A crisis plan is like having a “go bag” for your entire newsroom. It’s time to start packing.

The RTDNA has link to a handy downloadable list of questions to think about when putting together a plan or checking your newsroom’s existing one. Click here to view.

WATCH: It’s Local in North Korea. UK’s Channel 4 Shows North Korean TV News

If you think what’s going on in Washington, D.C. is kookaloo crazy, Britain’s Channel 4 is giving a rare look into everyone’s favorite government-by-cult-of-personality.

The British broadcaster is showing North Korean TV News on its website as part of an ongoing series called “North Korea Uncovered.” The news is accompanied by an English translation.

Check out the site by clicking here and don’t forget to praise the Dear Leader’s grace and kindness while you watch.

Pew: 71% of U.S. Adults Watch Local News

pew tv news viewingA new Pew study finds that 71% of American adults watch the local news over the course of a month, more than the 65% that watch network newscasts and the 38% that watch cable news.

Related, TVNewser: There Are More People Who Watch Both MSNBC and Fox News Than You Think

People who watch local news average about 12.3 minutes a day, compared to 12.4 minutes for network newscasts and 25.3 minutes for cable newscasts. Pew also finds the local news audience is highest during the 11 p.m. newscasts, which draws about 15% more viewers than the 5 to 7 p.m. block. The early-morning newscasts (6 to 7 a.m.) get about 60% of the viewership that the late newscast does.

The study was performed analyzing Nielsen research data from February 2013. Read the entire report here. [h/t Jim Romenesko]

WATCH: Five Things I Didn’t Learn In J-School

Something they don’t always teach in college is that the learning doesn’t really happen until you’re out of school. But by then it’s called “working on your craft” if you’re good and “gaining experience” otherwise. But at least you get paid for it.

Stephanie Tsoflias, New York market TV reporter and Mediabistro instructor gives her list of the top five things she didn’t learn in journalism school.

If you like what you hear, click on this link to sign up for Tsoflias’ “TV News reporting” class or go to mediabistro.com/courses to search for something else you may want to learn.

Should TV News Have On-Air Fact Checkers?

controlroom_304x200On the heels of CBS News and NBC News misidentifying the Navy Yard shooter, USA Today‘s Rem Rieder argues television news should take a cue from ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” and employ on-air fact checkers:

Television has never been very good at pointing out its errors. Newspapers generally have corrections sections. Many news websites will not only correct mistakes in copy, they will also note that the original version was incorrect. But TV news has been a laggard when it comes to setting the record straight.

And the idea of pointing out the mistakes on the program where they took place is perfect for the digital age. While newspapers have to wait until the following day to run their corrections, websites can and should fix mistakes as soon as they’re discovered.

As [ESPN's Tony] Kornheiser says, “If you get something wrong, you ought to correct it right on the spot.” After all, if you don’t, others will. When news outlets make mistakes, particularly on high-profile stories, you can be sure that many readers and viewers will take to Twitter to point them out.

Al Jazeera America Announces Correspondents for Regional Bureaus

Al Jazeera America is adding five more correspondents from the local news landscape to its ranks. The network has announced the hires of Ash-har Quraishi, Heidi Zhou-Castro, Bisi Onile-EreNatasha Ghoneim and Jonathan Martin.

The three hires were revealed as the network, which is slated to launch next month, announced plans to open bureaus in 12 cities across the United States:  Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. With the exception of Zhou-Castro and Ghoneim, each of the correspondents will stay in the same market as they join Al Jazeera.

Quraishi, who will be Al Jazeera America’s Chicago correspondent, joins the network from WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago, where he was a reporter for the nightly newscast “Chicago Tonight” and a contributor to PBS “NewsHour.”

Zhou Castro joins Al Jazeera from YNN Austin, where she was the evening and weekend news anchor. She will be based in the network’s Dallas bureau.

Onile-Ere will be based in Detroit for Al Jazeera. She comes from WDIV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit.  Read more

RTDNA Study: TV News Staffing Up, But Number of Newsrooms Down

The latest installment of the RTDNA/Hofstra University annual study finds that total television staffing in 2012 totaled 27,605 people, down just 48 people from the previous year. The average staff size per newsroom grew, but the number of newsrooms decreased from 725 to 712 in 2012:

The number of stations originating local news peaked in 2005 at 778.  It’s been steadily down since then.  Some of those were marginal operations to begin with, but quite a few TV newsrooms have been subsumed in some sort of consolidation or shared services agreement.  We’re now losing TV newsrooms at the fairly steady rate of eight per year.  Until this year, the number of stations getting news from one of those originating stations has been growing.  This is the first year that list has gotten smaller.

As for individual newsrooms: the RTDNA study finds the average station hired 5.6 replacements and .9 new, additional positions in 2012. Top replacement hires were reporters, producers and photographers, while top new hires were reporters and producers. The average local news staff is 38.5 people.

Tribune Co. Plans Split of Broadcasting, Publishing Divisions

Tribune Co. intends to split its broadcasting and publishing divisions into separate companies, the Chicago Tribune reports. The announcement comes just a week after Tribune announced an expansion of its broadcast division with a $2.7 billion purchase of Local TV’s 19 stations.

In a statement, CEO Peter Ligouri said the separation is “designed to allow each company to maximize its flexibility and competitiveness in a rapidly changing media environment.”

“Moving to separate our publishing and broadcasting assets into two distinct companies will bring single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers, while also enabling us to take advantage of the operational and strategic opportunities created by the significant scale we are building in broadcasting,” Ligouri said.

The Chicago Tribune, Tribune’s flagship publication, reports a detailed plan for the split will be developed over the next year. Only the newspapers and publishing assets would move to the new company, Tribune Publishing Co. The company’s 42 television stations, as well as its radio properties, would be retained by Tribune Co.

Pat O’Brien on Recovering From Scandal: ‘Own Up to it Like I Did’

“Fox Sports Primetime” host Pat O’Brien is the subject of Mediabistro’s latest “So What Do You Do?” interview. O’Brien — who has worked at stations in Chicago and Los Angeles as well as at CBS Sports, “Access Hollywood” and “The Insider” — recalls his battle with alcoholism as he advises broadcasters how to handle scandal:

If a reporter gets caught up in some sort of public scandal, what would your advice be about the best way to handle it and take responsibility?

I say this all the time: the best way to handle if you did something is to admit it. Cover-ups always worsen the crime. And we’re talking about low-level scandals here, obviously, not murder or anything. I always say the three A’s: admit, apologize, advance.

In other words, if you did something wrong, own up to it like I did. Be a man about it. I really didn’t need to apologize to anyone but my family, but I did. And it worked out in a really great way. I took a couple of years off, got myself together. I’ve never felt better; my career is completely on track. I never really lost much career-wise and I’m still here. I talk to a lot of people in trouble — politicians, celebrities — they will call me and ask what to do. And that’s what I tell them. Get in front of the first camera you can find and admit it if you did it. And apologize to somebody and move on.

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