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Archives: November 2009

Stations Open Up Newsrooms to Viewer Contributions

Broadcasting & Cable

WITI Community Eye
While the typical station story meeting has six or eight people present to pitch ideas, WITI Milwaukee might have 60 or 80 at its daily 1:45 confab. That’s because WITI opens up the editorial meeting to the public through live blogging and a live video stream, along with a Web program that allows users to toss in story ideas while commenting on others.

Launching “Community Eye” earlier this year, WITI implores users to take part in the meeting on the homepage, and uses its Twitter account to do the same for its almost 5,400 followers. “Viewers like to be part of the process,” says WITI VP/General Manager Chuck Steinmetz. “We’re all part of the community, and we’re trying to find stories that are important to the community.”

Steinmetz says several user-generated pitches have made it to air. Community Eye’s popularity comes at a time when the media are increasingly tapping consumers to be part of the newsgathering process. Stations harvest user-generated content (UGC) through initiatives such as Hearst’s “u local,” Broadcast Interactive Media’s YouNews, and the “See It, Snap It, Send It” function at several Raycom stations. Last year, KATV Little Rock trained a Webcam on general-assignment reporter Kristin Fisher and asked viewers for their input on story ideas with “Choose Your News.”More…

Party Crashers Want Big Pay Day for TV Interview

The Wall Street Journal

Salahis, White House Appearance Representatives acting on behalf of the Virginia couple who allegedly crashed a White House state dinner have contacted multiple media outlets to try to sell an interview with the pair, according to people familiar with the matter.

One person said the couple–Tareq and Michaele Salahi–was seeking a fee in the high six figures.

No news outlets contacted said they would pay the Salahis to discuss an event some executives said was likely to die down soon. Several TV organizations said they would be happy to interview the couple without payment.

Mahogany Jones, the Salahis’ publicist, said in an email Sunday, “We are not providing any comments at this time.”

Over the weekend, the couple stayed in the spotlight as some lawmakers expressed concern about the security breach. During a White House dinner Tuesday feting India’s prime minister, the Salahis were able to mingle with high-level guests, including the president, despite not being official guests. More…

Madison Anchor Suffers Seizure During Newscast

Wisconsin State Journal

Sarah Carlson Viewers of WMTV-TV (Ch. 15) were shocked to see anchor Sarah Carlson have a seizure during the morning newscast Wednesday, when she fell into another anchor’s arms before being rushed to the hospital.

“As many of you know, I’ve been very open about the fact that I have epilepsy,” she said in a statement. “Today, I had a seizure that was more intense than usual, and was taken to the hospital. I’ve seen my doctor and he says I appear to be doing well.”

Carlson’s seizure occurred in the middle of the morning show, shortly before 7 a.m. NBC 15 News Director Chris Gegg said co-anchor Christine Bellport was on-screen reading a news story during the incident, but Carlson was sitting off-screen on her right. Viewers reported hearing a noise off-screen then watching as Carlson slumped into Bellport’s arms. The station quickly went to a commercial break.

On Wednesday night, Carlson said she’d been diagnosed with epilepsy about a year ago but previously experienced relatively minor episodes until the grand mal seizure she had during the newscast. More…

In Manhunt, Charges May Be Filed Against KING-TV


Washington Shooting In the wake of the fatal shooting of four police officers at a coffee shop in Washington, a spokesperson for the local sheriff’s office said that the Pierce county prosecutor may press charges against members of KING-TV‘s news team. According to Ed Troyer, a police spokesperson, the KING news helicopter repeatedly interfered with police as they searched for the suspected killer over the weekend.

In a news conference on Sunday afternoon, Troyer said that charges may be filed against KING’s news director and the pilot of the news helicopter. “They’ve hampered the investigation three times today,” Troyer told a group of reporters. “We need the public’s help but we also can’t risk having other people get hurt and having our operations jeopardized by a helicopter, which we’ve had three or four conversations with the news station and they don’t seem to care or understand or acknowledge the issue,” Troyer added.

KING News Director Mark Ginther denies that his station interfered with the police. “We complied with the FAA regulations over the airspace,” he told KIRO, Seattle’s ABC-affiliate.

Since the news conference on Sunday, the prosecutor’s office has made no formal progress in bringing charges of police interference against Ginther and the helicopter pilot. It’s possible that Troyer is using the threat of legal action against KIRO to manage the media swarm that has been surrounding the manhunt. “If that helicopter shows up again, you’re all out of here,” he told reporters on Sunday, “so call them and tell them that.”

Shelly Palmer’s MediaBytes

Video: Amazon & WalMart Drop Prices to Lure Holiday Customers

MediaBytes Video

Carl Kasell Stepping Away from NPR News

Chicago Tribune

Carl Kasell Wait, wait … from NPR News in Washington, Carl Kasell is semi-retiring.

Kasell, who did the first newscast on the first edition of “Morning Edition” for National Public Radio 30 years ago this month, is relinquishing that role, as of Dec. 30.

Fortunately for his fans, however, Kasell, 75, will continue as official judge and scorekeeper of the Chicago Public Radio-produced quiz show, “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” the wry current events program that, his NPR bosses noted in a staff memo Monday, “turned him from a newsman into a rock star.”

And, to fully take advantage of that “rock star” status, NPR plans to deploy Kasell as an ambassador of sorts, sending him to stations for fundraising and other causes as needed.

“So I don’t know that I’m going to be cutting (the workload) a heck of a lot,” Kasell said by phone with the same perfectly understated delivery that’s treasured by “Wait Wait” contestants who vie to win a recording by him for their “answering machines.” More…

Dobbs’ Staff Must Re-Apply for Jobs at CNN

New York Post

Kitty Pilgrim, Lou Dobbs Tonight The axe is starting to fall on the staff of more than 20 producers and reporters that Lou Dobbs left behind when he abruptly left CNN two weeks ago.

Late Friday, the CNNers were told that they could start applying for new jobs at the all-news network — with the clear implication that their old jobs were going to end shortly.

In his years at CNN, Dobbs amassed the largest single staff at the network, according to insiders, operating independently from the rest of the network in a closed-off area of the network’s new headquarters in the Time Warner building on Columbus Circle.

Many of the long-time “Lou Dobbs Tonight” staffers, including on-air reporters Kitty Pilgrim and Bill Tucker, are facing unemployment unless they can find spots elsewhere on CNN. More…

Where Will ‘Oprah’ Syndie Dollars Go Now?


Oprah “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was a big deal for syndication — especially for national advertisers — pulling in nearly $160 million per year. Where will Oprah advertising dollars go after she leaves the air in September 2011?

Some analysts believe the show could remain in syndication with other similar TV talk shows. Others believe it could head to cable.

With the overall national syndication marketplace at $4.2 billion in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence, Oprah Winfrey‘s piece of the market amounted to around 4.0% of all syndication national money.

This came from the three minutes of national advertising time in the daily one-hour show sold by CBS Television Distribution. (Her show was double run in many top markets, which added to her total gross rating points for national advertisers).

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” took in $158.8 million in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The year before, the show had $158.9 million in ad revenues. More… Taking Over @BreakingNews Twitter Feed


Breaking News logo BNO News, of the popular @BreakingNews Twitter feed and the BNO iPhone app, is launching its business syndication venture, called BNO News Wire, and has signed on as the first client. Along with that, will take over the management of the @BreakingNews Twitter feed starting next month, while BNO and its 20-year old Dutch founder Michael van Poppel will now focus on developing its subscription-based wire service to sell to news companies.

BNOs new wire-service headlines will now be fed into the Twitter feed, along with the usual third-party headlines that it aggregates. The wire service will formally launch in January and will build on some of the original stories that BNO has started doing of late, such as this and this. The BNO premium subscription-based iPhone app is not part of the deal; some wire-service stories will go on the iPhone app but the ull slate will only be for the paid news media clients.

Details of the financial arrangement were not disclosed, but I confirmed from that it doesnt involve an investment or equity stake in BNO News. Instead, MSNBC will be a paying client of the service. More…

Trying to Stay Positive Four Weeks in a Row

This month–in the spirit of the upcoming holidays–I committed to posting a series of positive blogs about the traditional network powers. To be honest, it was pretty easy to be positive for one day, but a whole month has been a different matter. Luckily, this is the last in the series – a bow to NBC–which takes a lot of abuse for being #4–or as Tina Fey joked last week, “actually, we’re in ninth place if you count the couple radio stations that are ahead of us right now.” I’ve been stalling on this traditional network all month, hoping that the Comcast deal would be announced by now, but alas, not as of this writing–though perhaps it will have been announced by the time you read this:

1) A New Parent – after more than two decades, the kids have figured out a way to divorce their parents. No, it’s not a new sitcom; it’s Jeff Zucker’s brilliant maneuver to swap GE for Comcast. GE’s corporate strategies didn’t always lend themselves to optimal conditions for a broadcast company and Comcast should provide more flexibility and creative support even though it isn’t a pure media company either. And though nothing has been formally announced, all the reporting on the new, Comcast-controlled entity indicates that Zucker will run it and report to Steve Burke and Brian Roberts. Not that Comcast doesn’t have its challenges, but it will be good for NBC to be away from GE.

2) Football Night America/Sunday Night Football – Zucker and Dick Ebersol have been playing beautiful music together for a long time and the deal to partner with the NFL is no exception. Jeff and Dick’s work with the NFL and GE to get the contract – and Dick’s execution of the programming and scheduling – have to led to higher ratings and more success than anyone predicted.

3) Today, Nightly, and Meet the Press – these three programs routinely clobber the competition and show no signs of slowing down. And these aren’t flashes in the pan. All of undergone serious transitions in the past five years (the departures of Couric, Brokaw and Russert) and yet the competition continues to flail.

4) 30 Rock & The Office – for sophisticated viewers, especially those of us in media, this is the best hour of comedy on television. For people who work at NBC, and those of us who used to, it’s roll-around-on-the-floor funny–except maybe when we see a little of ourselves in some of the characters.

Now, finally, it’s Thanksgiving–and next week, I can return to my more Grinch-like tendencies.

Erik Sorenson is chief executive officer of, Inc. He oversees the strategic direction of the global, New York-based media company, including ShopTalk & TVSPY. If you would like to comment on Remote Control, or want to reach Erik, email remotecontrol@tvspy.