Monday, August 22, 2016

They have bitten off more than they can chew

WGAL-TV of Lancaster, PA, which prefers to be known as "News8," an NBC network affiliate, launched a 4 p.m. newscast now that the TV coverage of the Summer Olympics has come to an end. In its new newscast, the anchors asked for opinions of this new effort. So I am offering mine.

I think they bit off more than they can chew. The format is the same as the other newscasts, the stories are the same, and nothing is new except the time it airs.

Even to the ordinary lay person, the move is an obvious attack against a competing television station which has had a 4 p.m. newscast for several years now. That's all it is.

Here are a few pointers that will probably not make much difference.

First, the formats between the stations' news programs are significantly different. In some ways, "News8" newscasts are more boring.

Second, WGAL-TV is locked in with a network that has "Nightly News" broadcast at 7 p.m.  The other station has no network news program to link with, so it produces a 4 p.m. and a 5 p.m. newscast and moves on to entertainment programming.

In order to stay linked in with NBC, Channel 8 has stretched its local news coverage to 4 p.m., which means they are now producing 2.5 hours of continuous "local" news, until NBC airs its "Nightly News." Before this change, Channel 8 was airing 1.5 hours of "local" news,which was already repeating itself three times, as the old format had "News8 at 5," "News8 at 5:30," and "News8 at 6."

WGAL-TV is dangerously stretching the work schedules of its anchors, not to mention their reporters and producers. The news programs have already showing signs of problems via technical issues and mis-cues, requiring anchors to apologize.  It happened again on the opening evening with the new additional program.

The station had tried to bait viewers watching an earlier news program by saying they would have more details of a story in the next half-hour program. If they think they can bait viewers into sitting in front of a TV set for 2.5 hours, they're going to have serious setback, especially when the segments are nearly identical re-hash of the segment in the earlier program.

I can't see WGAL-TV's ratings increasing at all with this move. I actually expect the ratings to thin out from what they had been.

The station also spends too much time patting itself on the back during its news programs in forms of speech such as "News8 was the only one there when this happened...," and "News8 was the first crew there," and more similar boastings.

One thing you can bet one: If a broadcast station has to remind you how good they are, or how they get something first, or get something exclusive, you can rest assured they need to make you believe that to shadow what they can't do or fail to do. The station should stop talking the talk and walk the walk to prove to its viewers that it is fast, thorough and truthful about the events they cover.

To sum it up, WGAL-TV's latest effort is at best a failure, and a joke. It's coverage is shallow, repetitious, and lack depth or originality.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What about media monopoly?

It was interesting to a super-large corporation, which usually keeps a low profile about all of its holdings, boldly advertising during the Olympic games about its Olympian size.

I am talking about Comcast.  They own NBC. They own Universal. They own Xfinity. In addition to its primary public broadcast network, NBC owns a bunch of cable networks,  All of them were pooled to carry as much Olympic games as possible.  Even MSNBC news channel (I use the term "news" loosely here) was forced from its normal news/political coverage to provide Olympic Games coverage.

The fact that there are so many diversified channels under one umbrella gives you and me the illusion that we are getting diversified news, opinions and entertainment.  That is not the case.

All of the outlets filter into and through NBC and right on up to the governing officers of Comcast. Whichever way the top brass of Comcast want to lean politically, I'll bet the underling channels are saying "yessir."

So, to me, the Comcast commercial which shows fast-moving clips of many of its channels, movies, sports and ending telling you it is all Comcast, is a blatant boast of their power and control over you and me. And I, for one, don't like it one bit.

And you don't think it's a monopoly?  

Comcast has a grip on what you see, how you see it, and when you're going to see it, and attempt to force your thinking to their point of view.

These media giants should be broken apart back into the original individual companies they used to be and let them compete on a fair footing.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Another "journalist" loses credibility

On Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, "Political Director" Chuck Todd referred, during the broadcast of NBC's "Meet The Press" program, to transcripts of tapes made during a meeting by Donald Trump with the editorial board of The New York Times. That act alone destroys any trust you should have in any dealings with this man.

This trust issue of abiding by agreements that something is off the record goes all the way back to The New York Times itself when a meeting between its editorial board and Trump was held and was to be "off the record."  Yet tapes were recorded. That's problem No. 1. Then, later, the tapes were either released or leaked to other members of the press who don't honor agreements either.

You see, when a journalist or group of journalists, editors included, offer "off the record" to a source, it is their word that the information is, as it says, off the record.  Often that is how deep background information is learned as investigations proceed which are "on the record." It sort of helps point writers to sources and what to look for.

Remember the infamous Watergate, and the source only know as "Deep Throat" remained anonymous until he died, an agreement kept by Woodward and Bernstein, the reporters. Now there were honorable journalists.

Every time you speak with a journalist or editor of any form of news media, you must always assume it is "on the record," unless you and the media members agree BEFOREHAND that what you are going to say is "off the record."

When the tapes came out, they were identified as an "off the record" meeting. So, this is where the dishonor begins...first with the New York Times, and then with every journalist and its media employer dishonoring their trustworthiness as soon as they repeated portions -- or all -- of the meeting's contents, because they reported and acknowledged it was an off-the-record meeting.

And, of course, Todd jumps on the bandwagon and bases his comments and assumptions on the off-the-record tapes.  Anyone wanting to protect themselves as a source, can, from this point on, NEVER trust Todd to listen to anything you have to say even if you insist -- and he agrees -- it is off the record.

That's the state of your modern news media outlets, who think they are now so powerful and arrogant that they themselves, and choose what should be on the record or off the record.

Any journalist or news media outlet that refuses to report on the off-the-record taped meeting are true to their word and are the only ones that you may be able to trust.

Remember, there is no honor among thieves.  Don't be one and don't trust others.


Monday, February 1, 2016

What's Fox News Channel up to?

I watched Fox News Channel's "MediaBuzz" program Sunday morning, a program that "analyzes"  how various media outlets treated certain subjects for the past week.

It is a one-hour program.

What I found intriguing is that the participants and moderator in the show spent 40 minutes on their own presentation and coverage of the recent FNC-Google-GOP debate which was boycotted by the top candidate, Donald J. Trump.

It was thought that Trump boycotted because of his issues of how he was being treated by FNC anchor Megan Kelly. But what finally clinched his decision to boycott is when the publicity department of Fox News issued a childish -- supposed-to-be-funny --news release taunting Trump, including stating that if elected Trump would appoint his Twitter followers as members of the cabinet.

That release alone was enough to but Fox News as part of the news instead of being a "fair" reporter of the news, a critical component of the ethics of any true news gathering organization.

 On Sunday's program, during the 40-minute bit on Fox and the Trump boycott, I watched as the panel and moderator turned into a "spin room" explaining why this, and why they did that, and pity-party for Megan Kelly (who they all agreed --and I agree -- took the high road and could shake off the treatment the public was giving her, being she was a lawyer).

The spin was being spun so deep that if brought a new question to mind: Why is Fix trying to plead a case here?  The obvious answer is, like any other spin project, is to deflect from something more deep.

Could it be Fix wanted Trump to boycott, maybe to bring a higher rating because people want to see the result of such a skewed debate -- which, incidentally, brings higher financial benefit to Fox in terms of ad dollars?

Surely there was a reason for issuing such an asinine, childish bullying news release from what is supposed to be an ethical, "fair and balanced," news organization?

Kudos to Trump for boycotting.  I think he's the winner of this event, even though Fox's ratings were up for the debate, their image of responsibility certainly was not.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Breaking news is broken

It's been going on for a long time, but now seems to be getting worse.  Fox News Channel started it and continues to use it: "Breaking News" flags with heavy music blast to emphasize its importance.  The use of "Breaking News" is now used by regular television broadcast stations.

News does break.  But, once it breaks, it is broken and is a continuing story.  It doesn't become "breaking news" over and over again throughout the day.

As an example, a local television station on its morning news program show displays --- and the reporter says --- "breaking news" and presents the story, and continues to repeat the same story and identify it as breaking news an hour and two hours later.

This is a blatant example of how to try to magnify, or accentuate the presentation to create the impression that is fresh, previously unknown and of great importance when the story is not.  It makes it appear their reporters and staff are working feverishly to develop the story when, in reality, they are doing nothing but making a phone call or visit to the scene or authority source at a later time to see if there are any updates.

The use of "breaking news" statement is also used to emphasize the more newness of the report as compared to the other recorded stories that have been repeated for at least 24 hours through several news programs before dropping off the revolving production table.

An update to a story is not "breaking news," but rather an update.

The "Breaking News" is so over-used now that it gets passed off by many viewers.  It is a self-promotion gimmick, just like when news "reporters" give live or pre-recorded reports that claim "exclusive to our channel" as part of the rhetoric to present the story.

Some day someone who is really responsible and dedicated to presenting the full and truthful story of an incident, without any opinions or conjectures, will really present facts without the use of the audio-visual gimmicks and I, as a viewer, will appreciate and recognize it as an honest news report.

So, when you see a television channel use the comments or visuals that say "Breaking News" about the same story several times, or says the story is exclusive, have a good laugh, because they're just trying to impress you by patting themselves on the back.  Those terms mean nothing.