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Archives: November 2009

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Truth Becomes the Victim in Tiger Woods’ Car Accident

Miami Herald

Police Cars, Woods' Home The news-gathering landscape has mutated so quickly and so absolutely, at once enhanced and contaminated by the immediacy of everything from texts to Twitter to TMZ, that America’s most famous athlete this weekend went from suffering a serious injury in a car accident… to suffering a minor injury in a car accident… to being “fine,” according to his agent… to reportedly being unfaithful to his wife… to maybe having his face scratched by his angry wife… to being rescued by his helpful wife from his crashed car with a golf club… to having his car smashed up by his betrayed wife and her golf club… to not being any kind of “fine” at all.

Not all of that can be true, obviously, but who cares?

Truth is one of the many things that gets trampled today when boring facts can’t keep up with the media’s need to feed instantly and the public’s appetite to be fed faster than that. Something else that gets lost in all of the subsequent noise is Tiger Woods’ silence. We haven’t heard from him yet, which doesn’t seem to matter one microscopic fraction of one ounce at all.

We get news faster than we ever have. We just can’t trust it to be right. So patience, credibility and fairness are among the casualties here, too, at the intersection of celebrity and scandal More…

Philadelphia TV Icon Al Alberts Dies

Philadelphia Daily News

Al Alberts Al Alberts, a Philadelphia-area icon who hosted a long-running kids’ talent show on Channel 6 and had a successful singing career, died yesterday in Florida. He was 87.

Alberts moved to Port Charlotte, Fla., in 2001 with his wife and producer, Stella, when the “Al Alberts Showcase” finally went off the air.

The pair had been discovering and presenting talent for 30 years, helping to launch the careers of Andrea McArdle, Sister Sledge, Teddy Pendergrass and numerous others.

“We had the biggest extended family in the world, honestly,” Stella Alberts said in a phone interview yesterday. “Today they still write… and it’s just a treasure to hear from them.”

While many in the Delaware Valley knew Alberts from his Saturday-morning TV show, he also had a string of hit records in the ’50s and ’60s as lead singer of the vocal quartet the Four Aces. More…

Emmy-Winning CBS News Producer Dies

CBS News

Birnbaum Former producer Bernard Birnbaum died on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 89.

Birnbaum had been at CBS News since 1951, and was a producer for “Sunday Morning” since 1990.

Throughout his distinguished career at the network, during which he received seven Emmy Awards, Bernie Birnbaum covered many of the most remarkable events of the past several decades, from political campaigns and the assassination of President Kennedy, to Watergate and the Vietnam War.

“Bernie was a mentor to generations of CBS News producers and correspondents,” said CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus. “He always had an encouraging word and was always available to help with a problem. No one who had contact with Bernie can forget his enthusiasm as he would present some little known or forgotten treasure from the CBS News Archives–many of which he had been responsible for filming or taping.”

As a producer, Birnbaum worked with many legendary CBS News correspondents (including Howard K. Smith, Charles Collingwood, Mike Wallace, Eric Sevareid and Morton Dean) More…

Boston’s WGBH Bringing TV Shows to Radio

Boston Globe

Greater Boston WGBH said it plans to air more of its popular TV programs on the radio starting Tuesday as part of its effort to reinvent 89.7 FM as Boston’s next full-time news and information radio station–and set it apart from competitors that dominate the market.

WGBH officials said the station will draw from its catalog of TV programs such as “Beat The Press,” “Nova,” and “The News Hour” and adapt them for 89.7 FM. The station also will give WGBH’s “Greater Boston” TV host Emily Rooney and “Beat the Press” commentator Callie Crossley a midday weekday show to discuss local news. Their untitled show, set to start Jan. 4, will serve as the centerpiece of the new programming lineup that debuts Tuesday.

The moves are part of WGBH’s purchase in September of classical music station WCRB-FM 99.5 for $14 million. That acquisition allowed WGBH to shift its classical music programming to WCRB to preserve that station as Boston’s only full-time classical outlet. It also enabled WGBH to convert 89.7 to an all news and talk station in an attempt to compete with WBZ-AM 1030 and WBUR-FM 90.9. A smaller NPR affiliate, WUMB at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, also offers news and music programming. More…

Comcast-NBCU Would Pose Regulatory Challenges

The Washington Post

NBCU Building Sign One is a giant of the entertainment world — a tangle of television networks, a film studio and a stable of hit shows. The other is a cable colossus, the nation’s largest provider of cable TV and Internet access. Together, the possibilities are endless.

And that prospect has caught regulators’ attention.

With Philadelphia-based cable operator Comcast apparently hoping to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric, federal regulators are realizing that they may be thrust into a new era. A combination of the two would create the prospect of a single company controlling how customers access information–through cable and online — and what they watch there.

Comcast, for instance, could consider same-day releases of Universal movies for its cable customers. With control over more news and entertainment content, it would have greater flexibility to explore online business models, perhaps offering cable subscribers free online access to certain content, such as the show “30 Rock” or CNBC or USA Network programming. Comcast already is the nation’s second-largest provider of Internet access, and NBC owns a large stake in Hulu.com, where television shows can be accessed through any broadband connection.

Such are the makings of a complicated regulatory challenge. More…

Justin Farmer Taking Over 5pm Newscast at Atlanta’s WSB

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Justin Farmer Justin Farmer is taking over for John Pruitt co-anchoring the 5 p.m. news on WSB-TV. starting Jan. 4, 2010.

He has been effectively anointed the heir apparent to Pruitt, much like his future 5 p.m. co-anchor Jovita Moore has been Monica Pearson‘s likely replacement for years.

Atlanta native Justin Farmer is the son of Don Farmer, a former veteran newscaster in Atlanta who worked with Pearson many years ago. He arrived in Atlanta in June 2008, coming from Dallas.

General Manager Bill Hoffman praised Farmer for his journalistic experience and his love for Atlanta. “He’s well rounded,” Hoffman said. “He’s a great writer and a quick study. He’s most importantly a great collaborator and team player. He’s a leader. He’s constantly bringing in story ideas and he’s delivered high quality reporting. He was the choice and he’s ready.” More…

Stressing the Web, ‘NewsHour’ Begins an Overhaul

The New York Times

NewsHour Editorial Meeting Until recently, the employees who worked on the Web site of “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” on PBS were based in a building a brisk five-minute walk through city traffic from their on-air colleagues. The Web and television staffs interacted only at Mr. Lehrers annual holiday party. “They were all the recognizably young ones,” said Linda Winslow, the shows executive producer.

But in early November, the staffs were merged into a single 20-person bullpen, with four adjacent digital editing bays carved from what had been the correspondent Gwen Ifill‘s office.

Four days after the move, a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 43 others in a rampage at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. As word spread, the digital employees were silent, to the bafflement of some of the TV producers, who had jumped for the telephones.

It turned out they were exchanging Twitter messages with the Army and a member of Congress. “We learned so much just having them in the room,” Ms. Winslow said.More…

‘Leno’ Losing Audience to DVRs

Associated Press

Jay Leno, Headlines Much of the prime-time audience lost to NBC when Jay Leno moved into prime-time has gone not to its rivals but the digital video recorder.

Rival network executives seemed almost giddy at the possibilities last spring after NBC announced Leno would do a comedy show five nights a week at 10 p.m. There will be more viewers available “for people who put on great dramas,” said Leslie Moonves, CBS chief executive, “and that’s what we do.”

It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

NBC’s audience at that hour is down sharply, as many predicted. CBS is up 6 percent over last season, primarily because it moved the hit series “The Mentalist” into that slot; on three of the five nights, its audience is down. ABC is also down slightly at that hour, and it wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with hits last year, either.

With one-third of American TV households now equipped with DVRs like TiVo, the 10 p.m. hour is emerging as a popular time for people to catch up on what they missed earlier in the evening, or earlier in the week. More…

After 17 Years, Anchor Leaving Baltimore’s WMAR

The Baltimore Sun

Terry Owens WMAR After 17 years of covering city government and anchoring the news at WMAR-TV, Terry Owens is leaving the station, he said Thursday.

Owens, who along with Mary Beth Marsden is the second high-visibility anchor to take a buyout offer in recent days, said his last day at Channel 2 will be Dec. 4.

“They’ve had the buyout offer on the table, and the date to accept is fast approaching,” Owens said Thursday. “So after much soul searching, prayer and talking with my family, I have decided to look at other possibilities.”

For the last two years, Owens has been the anchor of the 5:30 p.m. nightly newscast and a reporter for the 11 p.m. broadcast. For almost a decade before that, he specialized in covering City Hall and Baltimore City government.

For the last 14 years, Owens has been host of “2 The Point,” the longest running public affiars show on Baltimore TV. More…

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