Category Archives: TV

Former copyboy, Scott Pelley’s optimism in the face of ‘bad information’

Last week, Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS News made some timely observations about the news business. Which, we should not forget is indeed a business. Pelley was awarded the Walter Cronkite award for Excellence in Journalism by the Cronkite School at ASU.

Now I regularly watch his broadcast, so I admire his candor  when he observed that:

“Never in our history have we had so much bad information.”

Let that sink in, against the other platitudes we hear that ‘never in our history have we had so much information at our fingertips’ etc. In 2013, Pelley warned that the media was getting the Big Stories wrong, over and over again. How prescient, considering most media misread the 2016 electorate. They are, after all our filters, and when their filters get trapped in the same gunk, we lose our faith in them.

At the ASU event he went further to warn, “We’re in our digital citadels, unchallenged by ideas. Biased reporting closes minds. Journalism is meant to open them.” Pelley, kicked off his career at age 15, as a ‘copyboy’ at a newspaper in Lubbock, Texas. If you’ve never heard of the job of ‘copyboy’ this person was, to put it nicely, a delivery boy who was given a sheet of butcher paper (on which stories were then written), to deliver it to the sub-editors’ desk.

Like Kelley, Cronkite was also optimistic about delivering the truth, alluring to the movie Network, when he said:

“We’ve got to throw open our windows and shout out these truths” 

Just for larks, here’s Walter Cronkite, as he signed off on March 6th, 1981.

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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Arizona, ASU, Events, Journalism, Media, Technology, TV


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Vote For iReporter, Gerard Braud

I’ve met Gerard Braud, when I sat in a workshop he conducted some years back. He’s a reporter’s reporter, who knows the ins and outs of working ina  newsroom.

Gerard has been nominated for a CNN iReport award, and I highly recommend him. If you feel inclined, watch this video of his short, succing iReport on Hurricane Isaac. Then, please take a few seconds to cast a vote for him.

Hurricane Isaac iReport – Gerard Braud

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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Citizen Journalism, TV


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Stick them in front of the TV –if you hate them

Whenever I bring up this topic it turns unpopular, for obvious reasons.

It is unpopular to say this, not just as a communicator, but as a parent. Adults have gotten so used to using television as a baby sitter –and as a back seat pacifier in the SUV — that it offends them to hear the contra view. So here are two recent reports that makes you realize that there are better ways to engage our kids.

I had brought this topic up (“TV plus children equals brain damage“) in 2005 on this blog, and it still gets a lot of hits. Now I know why. It’s an evergreen topic, simply because there will always be dissenters who think a screen could do no harm.

There has to be a downside of where we are headed. Think about this one fact: The Kaiser Family report found that young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by one hour and 17 minutes daily –up from 6:21 to 7:38.  That is almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day! TIME magazine did a cover story on this in 2006. A lot has changed since then, obviously.

If you are too busy multitasking to read the report, here’s the podcast!

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Education, TV


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Inane chatter, walkie-talkie reporter and TV News

This is hilarious.

But it is also a sad comment on the formula into which most news has slipped.

For years most of us communicators have been saying that it’s time to break out of the structure of news –how stories are told.

But how could you blame the reporter who has joined an organizations that requires him to do it their way, which conforms with the industry standard, which is really a formula invented about half a century ago? Bucking the trend and attempting to frame a story opposed to the inverted pyramid or the sound-byte sandwich is a good way to be back on the street.

And so we have the evening news full of this.

Yes, we get a few variations of this:

  1. All the news that’s fit to miss – Networks have been losing audiences (1 million a year!) over the past 25 years ( study)
  2. All the news that’s fit to sell –when the market creates the story that a poor talking head pretends to turn into news
  3. All the fluff that’s fit to Tivo/surf away from

So what do we do?

  • How about demanding a new news format for a start?
  • How about hiring reporters who are master storytellers, rather than “award winning” fact-finders?
  • How about blending long features into mix ? (By this I don’t mean “16 horrible health violations in the restaurants you frequent, next!”)

Something has to give. I don’t see these conversations happening in my local TV stations, and few (like Tak Hikich) asking for a different formula.

So until then, we’ll see a lot of the walkie-talkies and statutory shots, I guess.

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Posted by on February 1, 2010 in Journalism, New Media, TV



Quotes for the week ending 23 Jan, 2010

“We’ve got the Internet here at Signal, and it’s been a miracle that we’ve been able to stay on air … “Don’t ask me how we’ve managed to do that.”

Mario Viau, station director at SignalFM, in Port-au-Prince, which has been on the air and online since the earthquake struck..

“Because this is just a dirge. I’m ready to shut it off. And I’m sure there’s plenty other about to do the same.

Anonymous commenter on the Rolling Stone blog that live blogged the Hope For Haiti Now telethon. He went on to say that Live Aid “existed to raise money for a terrible epidemic. But the performances were more like a giant party. People were interested, and it was a huge success. This sad telethon will be immediately forgotten. And that’s a shame. Wasted opportunity.”

“Good attitude Mr. Anonymous. With a mindset like that nothing will ever happen.”

Someone going by the name of Jeff, responding to the above poster.

“We are experiencing an outage due to an extremely high number of whales.”

Message on the Twitter web site, supposedly after Haiti suffered aftershocks on Wednesday.

“It puts into the public domain every bit of information collected by public bodies that is not personal or sensitive, from alcohol-attributable mortality to years of life lost through TB. Happily, not all the data sets deal with death.”

Editorial in the Guardian, on the launch of new website,, which Tim Berners Lee ( and professor Nigel Shadbolt) served as advisors, on the request of Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

“News Corp. needs Google more than Google needs News Corp.”

Greg Patterson, attorney at Espresso Pundit, in Mike Sunnucks’s story on the battle eating up over the Fair Use Doctrine

“Yet, honest Abe and HAL9000, both had one thing in common. They conveniently applied a Heuristic theory as they were, in fact, the only one calling the shots.”

Steven Lowell, PR Manager, Voice 123, on why failure, and the ‘Heuristic Algorithm’ is a bad long-term solution.


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Can you really block my voice?

Q: What  might Tehran and Southwest Airlines have in common?

(No, it’s not another ‘peanuts’ joke.)

A: An intolerance with passengers text-chatting online.

Dan York, a tech strategist, author and blogger discovered to his dismay that while Southwest had begun a WiFi Zone on board some of its flights, (and is big on, and well known for using Twitter,) it cut out Skype chat.

But blocking speech at 30,000 feet is the least of our worries in a world that is increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices. It took on a new dimension in Iran this week, in the aftermath of the highly contested elections.  The Associated Press reports that the government has stepped up its Internet filtering and Iranians are unable to send text messages from their phones. The Guardian had this to say:

“Mobile phone text messages were jammed, and news and social networking websites – including the Guardian, the BBC and Facebook – as well as pro-Mousavi websites were blocked or difficult to access.”

But can a government really ‘block’ people’s voices in this age of leaky media. While Twitter  is being blocked in Iran, some tweets that get through publish the addresses of proxy servers that can be accessed undetected.

Someone uploaded —to Flickr! — this screen capture (left) of tweets found using the hash tag #iranelection.

And then the opposition candidate MirHossein Mousavi has been tweeting, as we know.

Despite all this other forms of technology –including jamming –are being used to circumvent the government clampdown.

Even Arab satellite TV news station Al-Arabiya was shut down.

I don’t think we will see an end to governments trying to curb dissent using intimidation and technology, but these events are unwittingly providing those who favor democratic processes good examples of how best to adapt to the next clampdown, the next autocrat, the next crisis.


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Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich: media magnet

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “You  have handled this ordeal with a lot of political skill—so far.”

Yeah right!

Watching Rod Blagojevich self destruct on the public airways made me wonder if the former governor of Illinois was master of  the cottage industry -selling sound bites to the hungry media.

If you switched between channels on Tuesday it was wall-to-wall Blagojevich. From Larry King to NBC’s Nightline, to CNBC. He even managed to say the same things to the hosts, who alternated between inquisitor, cheerleader and mesmerized host.

So here’s my question. Does the media sometimes lose its journalistic compass and get sucked in by the bad guy (the old case of OJ comes to mind, doesn’t it?) or is this an instance of masterly media handling by Blagojevic?

Speaking of the cottage industry, check who else other than the TV hosts is making hay while the ex-governor heads to Crowbar Hotel.

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Posted by on January 29, 2009 in Buzz, Hype, Media, TV