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Archives: July 2009

Telling Viewers What They Already Know is Lazy Journalism

I was watching a local newscast this week, a morning news program that had featured a chef preparing gourmet picnic items. One of the items the chef was featuring was a fancy potato salad. After whipping up the delicious looking dish, the anchor turned to the chef and said “Now, with potato salad, do you have to worry about health safety? Letting the mayo and eggs get too warm sitting out in the sun?”

BAM! There it was! The stupid question. Stating the obvious. How many times do you think viewers have heard that lame tip to “keep potato salad chilled if taking it on a picnic?” Viewers have heard this over and over again. In this case, it didn’t make the anchor look very bright, and it perpetuated that general perception from viewers that most of what you learn from newscasts is the same old stuff.

Viewers seek new information they haven’t heard before

Too many newscasts are filled with the obvious. It’s one of the biggest reasons why viewers are rejecting local news. Viewers tune in to learn something they dont know and instead, what they often get is information they already know.

I saw another example this past weekend on one of the network morning newscasts. They were doing a segment on personal safety, showing items you can buy on the cheap that help keep you safe. One of the items was a battery operated doorstop, that you stick under a hotel room door, and alarms if the door is opened. I saw that and said to myself, “That thing has been around for years!” And the next “brilliant” item they featured was a can of shaving cream. But guess what? It wasn’t a shaving cream can after all! Instead of having shaving cream inside, you could twist off the top and use the inside to hide money, keys or valuables.

Lame tips

One of the biggest traps for this problem are in stories with “tips.” Most tips are really lame. Avoid the lame tips!

Tips on saving energy:

Turn off the lights when leaving a room

Install energy saving light bulbs

Use fans instead of air conditioning

Install weather stripping

Save money on gas:

Accelerate gradually

Plan errands so you make less trips in the car

Make sure tires are properly inflated

How to avoid swine flu:

Wash hands often

Don’t touch your mouth or nose with your fingers

Steer clear of others who are sick

Don’t drink out of the same glass as others who are sick

Lazy journalism

Remember the viewer is seeking new information, something they dont know or havent heard before. Telling them what they already know is simply lazy journalism.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at

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Zimbabwe Lifts Reporting Ban on BBC and CNN After Eight Years


BBC, CNN Logos Webster Shamu, Zimbabwe’s minister of media, information and publicity, said the BBC and his government had now “acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually ruinous relationship of the past”.

In a letter to the BBC, he said: “We agreed that whatever communication problems which the BBC and the officials of the Zimbabwe [government] may have had in the past, the Zimbabwe government never banned the BBC from carrying out lawful activities inside Zimbabwe.

“For the purposes of the record, I restate the main points of our meeting. We acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually ruinous relationship of the past.”

The letter added that the BBC had agreed to employ local people at a bureau in Harare, adding that the corporation was free to send crews around Zimbabwe.

BBC reporters have been banned from Zimbabwe since 2001, although corporation journalists, including John Simpson, the world affairs editor, had managed to evade the ban by reporting undercover within the country. More…

Former KWQC General Manager Jim Graham Dead at Age 63

Quad-City Times

Jim Graham When Jim Graham came to KWQC-TV in 1996, he told a Quad-City Times reporter that he wanted to be active in the community.

And was he ever.

In a 2005 survey done by the Quad-City Business Journal, the president emeritus and goodwill ambassador of the NBC affiliate in Davenport was listed as a member of 11 different community boards, more than anyone else in the area. A stroke in January 2006 forced him to cut back–a bit. Still, he recently served as president of Davenport’s Harrison Hilltop Association and was past chairman of the board of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, among other posts.

Graham died Wednesday night, found unresponsive in his Davenport home by his visiting granddaughter. He was 63 years old. More…

WSB’s Sports Director Chuck Dowdle to Retire


Chuck Dowdle
Chuck Dowdle, sports director for Channel 2 Action News, announced his plans to retire in December of this year after 24 years at WSB-TV. Dowdle joined Channel 2 in 1985.

“Setting out on a career, the best you can hope for is to work with professional people,” said Dowdle. “I have really been blessed in that area to sit beside Monica, John, Jovita and Glenn.”

When asked why he pursued sports reporting as a career, Dowdle quickly answered, I have always loved sports. Being an Atlanta native, I really love Atlanta and Georgia sports.”

“I also wanted the opportunity to meet and get to know successful people. Generally speaking, that’s what you run into in the sporting world. And I can honestly say that theres never a day that I dread going to work.”

“To many, Chuck Dowdle means Atlanta Sports,” said Marian Pittman, news director for Channel 2. “No one I know is better connected than Chuck,” she added. “We will really miss his sports knowledge, his sense of humor and dedication to Channel 2 Action News.” More…

ABC News Hires CDC Doctor, Expands Medical Coverage

Associated Press

Dr. Richard Besser ABC News has hired a top government doctor as part of an expansion of its medical coverage.

Dr. Richard Besser, who was acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the swine flu epidemic began earlier this year, will join the network as senior health and medical editor.

ABC also promoted its longtime health commentator, Dr. Timothy Johnson, to chief medical editor. Johnson is a regular on “Good Morning America,” “World News,” Nightline” and “20/20.”

“Over 30 years, Dr. Tim has established himself as the leading on-air authority for all things related to health and medicine,” most recently on health care reform, says a statement from ABC News President David Westin. Besser “proved his mettle as a highly effective communicator of health issues” during swine flu and will be a strong addition, the statement says.

Besser, 49, a pediatrician, plans to report on obesity, flu and other public health issues for multiple programs starting in September. More…

Pittsburgh’s WTAE Drops Weather Channel, Adds Movie Channel

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WTAE Logo At 5 a.m. Monday WTAE will drop its weather/traffic digital subchannel (Channel 4.2) in favor of This-TV Pittsburgh, a free movie channel of films from the MGM, United Artists and Orion vaults. Hearst Television, WTAE’s owner, signed an affiliation agreement to carry This-TV on its stations’ digital subchannels earlier this year. More…

Cablevision to Spin Off Madison Square Garden

Dow Jones Newswire

Madison Square Garden Cablevision Systems Corp.‘s board has approved going ahead with its plan to spin off its Madison Square Garden and related assets by year’s end as the cable-telelvision company looks to focus on core operations.

Meanwhile, second-quarter earnings fell 8.1% on hedging losses, more than offsetting rising sales.

Cablevision also reiterated “it is not considering the sale of MSG, any of MSG’s businesses or any other Cablevision business at this time.”

The company said in May it was reviewing a spinoff of the iconic arena and related busineses, which include its sports teams–the New York Rangers and Knicks–and other entertainment venues in New York City. In subsequently raising Cablevision’s credit ratings, Moody’s Investors Service said the move would simplify the company’s business model and reduce volatility in operations and capital requirements.

Under the proposal, Cablevision holders would get a share of MSG for each share of Cablevision.

James Dolan would become MSG’s chairman and remain Cablevision’s president and chief executive. Hank Ratner would oversee MSG’s day-to-day operations and remain Cablevision’s vice chairman.

Dolan said, “The new MSG will be an attractive combination of sports entertainment and programming properties, while Cablevision will continue to house a portfolio that includes industry-leading telecommunications services and popular programming networks. We believe that the combined value of these assets has not been fully realized.” More…

WWBT Splits Up the Nation’s Longest-Running Anchor Team

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gene Cox For more than 30 years, Gene Cox has been supplying viewers with late-night news from behind the anchor desk.

Starting tomorrow, Cox will no longer be part of WWBT‘s top-rated 11 p.m. newscast with longtime partner Sabrina Squire, but will remain as co-anchor with Squire for the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts on WWBT and solo on the CW’s 6:30 p.m. broadcast.

According to WWBT, Cox and Squire are the nation’s longest-running anchor team, together since 1984.

I think Gene put it best–he wants to go to bed earlier at night,” said Don Richards, general manager of local NBC affiliate WWBT. “Hes going to have some new assignments during the day, and wants to work more dayside and early evening.”

Filling Cox’s 11 p.m. slot will be Curt Autry, who currently co-anchors the 10 p.m. “Fox News at Ten” with Diane Walker. More…

NBC Local Has Launched 10 New City Sites


NBC Local Websites In the next step of NBC Local Media‘s hyperlocal brand strategy, NBC Local Integrated Media officially launched Wednesday (July 29) the commercial versions of its 10 city Web sites, powered by the company’s 10 owned-and-operated NBC stations in the nation’s top markets. In beta since October 2008, the city Web sites were conceived as an alternative to the typical TV Web site that serves as an extension of the on-air TV brand.

The approach seemed to work. Unique visits to the city Web sites increased from 5 million last October to 20 million in June 2009.

Offering lifestyle, entertainment and news, the redesigned and enhanced city Web sites have only an oblique reference to their NBC affiliation in the upper lefthand corner of the home page, though “NBC” still leads off the Web address, i.e., and As part of the official launch, city sites invite visitors to interact and engage with the site by contributing content and registering their emotions about particular stories and events. Content can be shared easily on Twitter and Facebook.

“This is an exciting step in the ‘Locals Only’ brand strategy,” said Brian Buchwald, senior vp of NBC Local Integrated Media, the digital division of the NBC Local Media Group. More…

Co-Anchor Is One of Three Laid Off at WCMH in Columbus

The Columbus Dispatch

Amy Basista Three staff members have lost their jobs at WCMH-TV (Channel 4), including Amy Basista, co-anchor of “NBC 4 Today” and “The NBC 4 Midday Update.”

Channel 4 management would not comment on the layoffs.

Basista said she hopes to stay in Columbus and in television. “I wish the station the best of luck,” she said. “There are a lot of very talented people there.”

A week ago, station owner Media General, which has been cutting operating costs, reported a profitable second quarter despite drooping ad revenue. In May 2008, Channel 4 laid off seven people, including a midday co-anchor, a meteorologist and five off-camera employees, as part of a companywide reduction in work force by Media General. More…