Tuesday, December 25, 2018

No, Lester Holt is NOT a news anchor

Walter Cronkite was a true journalist, a real TV anchor, and editor of his nightly news broadcast. So were many others, including Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. But that's not the case anymore.
     An anchor was what the word implied: an anchor, anchored in a newsroom, sometimes in New York and other times in Washington, D.C. They relied on a network of reporters worldwide, who gathered the information, put it together for a piece of the airtime their anchor afforded to it.
     A recent promotional spot aired by NBC (recent to me, it may have been aired many times before and I just didn't see it) the network referred to Lester Holt as their “NBC Nightly News” anchor.
     That made me think about the structure of the broadcast news organizations today.
     Lester Holt is not an anchor in the true sense of the term. I would bet he isn't even the editor-in-charge of the program's content. It shows how distorted and diluted the news has become overall.
     There was a day when the news was presented through the anchor by reporters on the scene, without opinion or slant, and left up to the viewers to make up their own minds about the information they are getting.
It was a direct reflection of the guidelines of earlier newspapers: News presented “without fear or favor, bias or prejudice.”
     Now I must admit the newspapers, even the largest of them, have been constantly violating those principles over the last decade. Even if the stories presented were on facts alone without the interjected opinions, quips and odd looks by the reporters, newspapers and television have slanted their coverage by omitting and ignoring covering some stories.
     It is a sad day for dedicated journalists such as myself. Because, as a retired journalist, I see how stories or ignored, and others skewed to direct the readers/viewers opinions to a pre-determined judgment that may or may not be accurate or true.
     If you don't believe me, record a television newscast, put all the words into writing. The, strike out all the “descriptive” and opinionated words that are not actual facts and see what you have left. The half-hour broadcast would be reduce to less than 10 minutes.
     The rest is opinion terms, sometimes mostly uninformed and inaccurate predictions of what would happen next, and statements how good or bad people should feel about what happened.
     Back to the original focus of this editorial.
     Lester Holt is NOT a news anchor. He IS a corporate showboater. NBC flies him and a crew to the scene of a developing story they think will highlight point of view to be promoted later. Besides the fact that officials have to spend time and support (funded by your tax money of course) to a crew for TV coverage that could have been better spent taking care of the event, it appears to demonstrate to viewers that the network doesn't really believe their local level reporter cannot handle the coverage they are paid to do, or just plain showboating to the public to try to get higher viewer ratings which, in turn, of course, translates to getting more money for commercials.
    Either way, officials should not be cooperating in providing and supporting a “glamorus production” of a broadcast by any network. They should give reporters the facts, of course, but not assisting in a production.
     No, Lester Holt is NOT a new anchor. He IS a showboater. The true facts of the news are buried beneath the haze and sour smell of the show coating.
     If the other news “anchors” and going on scene on the other networks, then they fit into the same category.
     So, a word of advice to you: Do NOT believe everything you are hearing and seeing on the network news shows. It doesn't have the credibility of true factual news content anymore. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

When does "breaking news" become broken???

Watching local television news the past year or more, I noticed that there's been a lot of "breaking news" stories.
    The usual red colored title slide, the bold words "Breaking News," and the audio swish, whoosh or drum, and then the anchor says "here's breaking news, just out of ....(naming a town).." and so on.
    But as you watch the different regular and ad-slot updates continuing through the day, that "breaking news"  is repeated over and over again. Sometimes it continues to be repeated in the evening newscasts.
    Anyone with any kind of sense of normality realizes that a news story only "breaks" one time.  From then on, it's either a repeat  or an update. It can't break every half hour through the day.
    Once it breaks, it has been broken.
    Usually a story "breaks" with few details. But it doesn't "break" again because of new details.  It is an "update."
    Your local TV channels are trying to razzle-dazzle you that they are "first," or "the best" with the news, by conning you into thinking a new story just broke when it's really old and just as a new update.
    It becoming entertainment and no longer really news. They want to keep you on their channel, and not to drift to another station, so everything has to appear new, or fresh, with music, sound effects and visual effects -- sometimes the visual effects or video clips shown over narration are so out of touch it looks like an outright joke to others in the business of journalism.
    We have become the consumers of information that, not our fault, doesn't even match up to the criteria of true journalism.
    It used to be you should meet the basic questions of journalism: who, what, where, how, when ... and possibly why.  The who, what, where, how and when used to be the basic criteria to let a story run and give you that information.  It may take a later update ... sometimes days later ... to explain a "why."
    Now, so a TV broadcaster can create an impression that it knows everything going on before anyone else, you'll be fed a "what" and nothing else, or possible coupled with a vague "where."
    Newspapers always know it as fast as a TV or radio newscaster, but since there are deadlines for printing a paper, they have time to gather answers to most of the "w" questions before dishing it out to you.
    Unfortunately, with no deadline looming for Web site publication, newspapers now are also starting to drift into the land of "don't know much yet" journalism.
    Channel 8 in Lancaster is an example of the outlandish. It has 2.5 hours straight of newscasts in late afternoon and early evening, usually divided into half-hour segments although they claim it's 3 separate newscasts. one at 4, one at 5, and one at 6. The only difference is the so-called celebrity anchors are changed around to make things appear different.
    But the same stories are repeated and repeated again, If they label one "breaking," it's "breaking news" several times and again in later broadcasts.
    The cruelest thing they do to you is deliberately leave out some information on a story for one program and add it to the next program -- and say so by saying something like "there's more details in the 6 o'clock news" -- to force you to spend another hour of sitting and watching only to find out the extra details which probably were minimal at best.
    They need the ratings and that's how they con you into watching repeating stories. The higher ratings, the more commercial sponsors they can get and the higher price they can charge for commercials to make money. Lots of money.
    If the TV broadcasters took journalism serious, you'd have one "breaking story" ID only for a particular story and follow-ups or up-dates from then on. So when you see the fiery-red "Breaking Story" on your screen, you truly are getting something new just occurring.
     Only then you can trust your TV news hacks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Their "investigative reporting" is "top-notch"????

There's "who, what, when, where, and why" basic questions in journalism. I have to ask "why" the so-called investigative reporters at Lancaster's WGAL-TV avoided answering the basic "who" question on a local important topic. 

They report the state and City of Harrisburg have filed a suit against "a number of companies" over the botched rebuilding and the botched building a new incinerator plant. 

The station NEVER mentioned who the subjects of the suit are. If the suit was filed, then the defendants are public record. What kind of intelligent and responsible journalism is this? Has the news really gotten this bad? 

And they advertise they have the best investigative team? 


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Network news picks and chooses

March  28, 2018 -- NBC Nightly News, take note: One day you featured a New York City firefighter who was killed fighting a fire and few days later the funeral procession, while in the very same basic time period, TWO York, PA firefighters were killed in a firefighting event, and you didn't mention it then and later didn't mention the public service for them today which firefighters from California to Canada and many other states attended. Why is one firefighter in NYC more special than others elsewhere? Perhaps NYC was easy to cover and you are too lazy to find the news elsewhere, or are you spoon-fed issues to report??? You pick and choose, which causes a slanted, biased presentation of the news.

The local TV affiliate, WGAL, did present extended coverage of their news broadcast in honor of the fallen firefighters.  But the affiliate did fall short by not committing broadcast time for the actual service eith on the primary broadcast channel 8.1, or their side channel, 8.2. Instead, they streamed it on the Internet. Not everyone in the subsidiary's coverage area is network or Internet savvy.

Monday, September 25, 2017

NBC News adds to Puerto Rico misery

Crews for "NBC Nightly News" packed up their equipment...lights, cameras, production equipment, power source equipment...and staff and flew to Puerto Rico for Monday evening's broadcast ... on a military cargo plane meant to deliver much-needed supplies to the Puerto Ricans.

The purpose? Showboating, really. To make it look like its anchor, Lester Holt, knows everything, feels everything and can go anywhere in the world.  Not for the story.  They have so-called journalists in the country already with their own, but smaller and more mobile, crews.

So it places an added burden on Puerto Rico to host and help these slickers, who did not need to be there anyway, just what the local authorities needed, right?

I am not sure what they think they are proving to their viewers. I, as a viewer now and then,  wonder why the hell they were there when they could have anchored in New York and fed in the video and information from their so-called journalists in the field. Hell, Holt was back-and-forth to New York throughout the program anyway.

It all looks like a fake Hollywood glamour call and some of the real information that did manage to get through the airwaves is probably lost as the viewer figures out why Holt is there just standing amidst rubble and rubbish that is repeated in the scenes from their mobile so-called journalists.

What a waste of time and money, And I hope the cost of shipping their equipment and staff for a brief stand on the "scene" isn't being paid by you and me, the taxpayers, since they were on a military, not corporate, plane.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to neutralize your opposition

Megyn Kelly, last year, was the bright, bright star of Fox News Channel and a spokesperson for conservative views. Aside from Bill O'Reilly, she was most likely the top rated journalist/commentator for the network.

In a bold move, NBC lured her away from Fox with a lucrative contract and, in its effort, dimmed her conservative views and saddled her with human interest stories, personality interviews and puff pieces.

NBC was successful in extinquishing this light of political sanity.

There has been no one, so far, to fill Kelly's shoes with her former ability to fairly point out anyone with hidden agendas.

In one high-price move, the NBC network, with its no-longer-hidden liberaL bias, successfully neutralized one of the better opponents of its views.

Got to give the liberal media a point for that maneuver.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kudos to Dish Network for holding out

Kudos to Dish Network for continuing a stand-off with Hearst Television, owners of the local WGAL, Channel 8 television station, about paying a higher fee to carry Hearst television stations' programming.

The Hearst stations continue to "explain" that the impasse continues and Dish is not carrying the Hearst stations as a result. Hearst - at least WGAL - tries to make Dish look like the bad guy by telling Dish viewers they should be getting a reduced rate since the network is not carrying the Hearst stations' contents.

But let's take a closer look at this.  It is Hearst that is demanding Dish to pay a higher fee to carry its content. Not the other way around.  DirecTV already caved to Hearst after not carrying Hearst's content for a few days.

Here's the basic problem for you, the viewer, to consider. The Hearst stations are granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to broadcast its programming to the public for free. If you have an antenna, and the TV station's signal reaches you, you can see their content for free. The television station raises its money to operate by charging sponsors who prepare and carry commercials to you to get you to buy their wares.

If you subscribe to a cable or satellite network system, you pay a fee to get that content.  By all fairness, the only fee you should have to pay to see the commercial broadcast stations that are on the public airwaves, should be the fee that covers that cable system's equipment and operating expense to pick up that commercial channel to send it to you.

But that's what is NOT happening. The television stations are charging the cable systems a fee for the "privilege" of carrying their content .... which of course is absolutely free over the airwaves.

That's what Hearst and other commercial television stations are doing. But it is YOU that will have to pay for the extra fee to the cable system which in turn forwards the extra money to the stations --- whose content is supposed to be free to the public.

Private cable channels, of which they are now many, should have the right to charge you for their content because it is private and they do not broadcast on public airwaves.

For Hearst and other commercial TV outlets, they should NOT have the right to charge you money for their free content.  But that's what they are doing.

So, as long as WGAL and all other Hearst Television outlets as well as other commercial stations claim the problem is with Dish or other cable/satellite systems, it is actually the TV station itself trying to charge YOU more for what was to be free content.

The only way this inside-out method of fleecing you will ever be solved is for lawmakers and the FCC to outlaw the television stations from charging for programming that is meant to be provided for free.

I'll bet you don't like paying a fee to watch a channel that shoves commercial after commercial down your throat.

It's ironic because the commercial television stations using the public airwaves are losing audiences and desperately need to keep as many viewers as they can. Perhaps if they paid as much attention to the quality of programming they provide as they do to trying to fleece you, they may be more popular than they are.