Al Tompkins

Consulting clients: ABC Owned and Operated Stations, Telemundo Television Stations; Meredith Television Stations; Scripps Howard Television, NBC owned and operation stations Promotions Directors; Stations; Hearst Argyle Television Stations; Gannett Television Stations; Griffin Communications; NBC Owned and Operated Stations; New York Times Television Stations; Cox Television; Cox Cable, Cox Washington DC Bureau, RUV TV (Iceland), Belo Television Stations; Freedom Newspapers of Florida, Freedom Newspapers of North Carolina, The Raleigh News & Observer, Shurz Broadcast stations, Radio and Television News Directors Association; RTNDA Canada; Radio and Television News Directors Foundation; The Ford Foundation; Hampton University, Kings University, Belmont University, Western Kentucky University, Middle Tennessee State University Alabama Broadcasters Association; Arkansas Broadcasters Association; Oklahoma Broadcasters Association; Hawaii Association of Broadcasters; Texas Association of Broadcasters; Ohio AP Broadcasters Association; Pennsylvania Broadcasters Association; Illinois Broadcasters Association; Washington State Broadcasters Association; Georgia Broadcasters Association; Tennessee Broadcasters Association; Louisiana Broadcasters Association; New York State Broadcasters Association; West Virginia Broadcasters Association; Missouri Broadcasters Association; Virginia Broadcasters Association; North Carolina Broadcasters Association; South Carolina Association of Broadcasters; Wisconsin Broadcasters Association; Iowa Broadcasters Association;Oregon Broadcasters, North Carolina Press Association, Alaska Broadcasters Association, New Mexico Broadcasters AssociationNational Academy of Television Arts and Sciences -- NATAS (Pennsylvania); NATAS (Washington DC); NATAS (Miami); WMC-TV; WSB-TV; KXAS-TV; KHOU-TV; WNEM-TV; KPHO-TV; WEWS-TV; WPTV-TV; WESH-TV; WKMG-TV; WTVW-TV; WPBF-TV; WHO-TV; KWTV-TV; WZZM-TV; WNEP-TV; WTKR-TV; KTHV-TV; KCTV-TV; WGAL; WTVF; WSBT See discussion of Poynter consulting in Poynter Ethics FAQ.


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9 under-the-radar ONA finalist’s projects you need to see

The Online News Association’s contest finalist list is always a source of inspiration for me. When it arrived in my email Monday I started scouring it to find great projects that I would use in my Poynter teaching.

Some of the more highly publicized projects you may have already seen, but if you haven’t, you should check these out:

I was delighted to find some other magnificent reporting I had not seen before the finalist list came out and wanted to share some of my favorites.… Read more

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Local TV journalists say police encounters are mixed in Ferguson

Local television journalists from St. Louis covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri tell Poynter.org there is a version of the story unfolding that has not been widely told. These journalists say it’s true that some officers have come at them with weapons drawn but others have shown remarkable restraint.

KTVI photojournalist Dave Sharp was hit in the thigh by a rubber bullet Wednesday night. “It’s no big deal,” the 26-year news veteran said. “Look, the police gave everyone a lot of warning to get out of there.” Sharp captured video of a young man tossing a lit firebomb toward police. “He tried to throw it over a building and it landed on a car wash. The car wash caught fire. If it had gone further, the molotov cocktail would have landed on a group of police gathered nearby.… Read more

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Reporting under fire: CNN’s Ivan Watson stays calm

Photo courtesy CNN

In the months ahead, as I show journalists examples of excellent reporting, I will use a story that CNN’s senior international correspondent Ivan Watson filed this week.

Watson and his CNN crew flew in a helicopter with the Iraqi air force and fighters with the Kurdish peshmerga to drop supplies and rescue 20 or so Iraqis from Mount Sinjar, where they had fled attacks from the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“We landed on several short occasions, and that’s where — amid this explosion of dust and chaos — these desperate civilians came racing towards the helicopter, throwing their children on board the aircraft. The crew was just trying to pull up as many people as possible,” Watson said.… Read more

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CBS prepared to play rough with affiliates over money

CBS fired an opening salvo in what could become a disruption for network affiliated television stations.

WISH TV, the LIN Broadcasting owned station in Indianapolis will no longer be the CBS affiliate starting January 1, 2015. CBS is moving from LIN owned WISH-TV to the Tribune owned station WTTV, currently the CW affiliate. Tribune also owns the FOX station in Indy.

The move will cost WISH about half of its revenue, according to one media analyst, who added it will serve as a warning to other network affiliated stations. CBS is sending a signal that it is prepared to play rough when it comes to the percentage of revenue that local stations pass along from the retransmission fees that cable companies pay the local stations. In TV terms, the money that an affiliate pays a network is “network compensation” often called “net-comp.” Side note: A couple of decades ago, networks sent compensation to local stations and it is now the other way around.… Read more

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How to cover the Robin Williams story responsibly

The suspected suicide of comedian Robin Williams is an opportunity for journalists to give more coverage to a topic that deserves it. Suicide rates in the United States rose between 2000 and 2007.

But screaming headlines, speculation and images of crying fans could do a lot of harm. Journalists have to cover such high-profile deaths — the key question is how.

The CDC reported last year that in 2009, more people died from suicide than from car accidents. It also found “substantial increases in suicide rates among middle-aged adults in the United States.”

Baby Boomers “who have faced years of economic worry and easy access to prescription painkillers may be particularly vulnerable to self-inflicted harm,” Tara Parker-Pope wrote in a New York Times article about the CDC’s findings.… Read more

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High school journalists produce documentary despite protests

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Why don’t more photojournalists become news directors?

Michaelsen

Sinclair Broadcasting Group named Lane Michaelsen its new corporate news director, Rick Gevers reported Aug. 3. Sinclair, the biggest local television ownership group in the U.S., now has three former photojournalists in top news division leadership positions.

Michaelsen became a national award-winning photojournalist at WSMV (where I worked with him) and at KARE-11 in Minneapolis. After a one-year residency at The Poynter Institute, he rose to news director in Little Rock, D.C., Tampa, Miami, Cincinnati and Atlanta.

Photojournalist Stan Heist is Sinclair’s news talent manager and in 2006 was the National Press Photographers Association national TV Photographer of the Year. He started his career as a news photographer and a live truck operator at WKEF-TV in Dayton, Ohio. Scott Livingston is the group’s vice president of news.… Read more

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Former NBC Journalist/Executive Paula Madison Finds the Story of Her Life

Paula Madison shocked her colleagues when she walked away from television in October, 2011. She was 58 and an executive vice president at NBC.

“I wanted to find my family,” she told me. “I knew that everything I had done, from majoring in black studies at Vassar College to studying the Caribbean and China, then being a reporter and developing my world view, all of this, I realize was getting me ready for something.”

It was getting her ready to report the greatest story of her life.  Her own.

Paula Madison (Photo Courtesy Madison Media Management)

Paula Williams Madison and her brothers Elrick and Howard grew up in Harlem, raised by their immigrant single mother Nell Vera Lowe.  There was a time when they depended on welfare to get by.… Read more

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Local TV Stations Investigate Football Helmet Safety: Get Results

One of the benefits of my job is that as I travel around the country working with TV stations, I see story ideas that spread like kudzu from one market to the next. One station in one city finds some success with the story, others hear about it, copy the idea and localize it.  I find most of these cut and paste ideas pop up around “sweeps” months and most are awful.  Here’s one that isn’t.  It is worth looking at where you are and it may keep some kid from getting hurt.

In May, WDIV in Detroit began investigating high school football helmet safety. The station found that local high schools routinely issued players helmets that helmet safety experts said didn’t provide enough protection.

They used information from a rating system developed at Virginia Tech that assesses the safety of different football helmets.… Read more

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EW SCRIPPS HEADQUARTERS

Scripps and Journal is just the latest in a series of mega broadcast mergers

There is an underlying fact that makes the Scripps and Journal deal make sense: Broadcasting is still profitable. Second quarter earnings have been strong and topped last year’s numbers.

Wall Street loves broadcasting, and bigger broadcast companies do better than smaller ones these days. Bigger companies have more leverage to negotiate retransmission deals with cable companies. Once this deal is approved, Scripps will be the powerhouse owner of ABC stations, which gives the company leverage to influence the network. Scripps stock hit five-year highs Thursday in response to the news that the company was spinning off its newspapers from the broadcast and online properties.

Wednesday’s  deal is part of a mosaic of mega-media mergers that have produced super-sized broadcast owners that are more than twice the size of what they were only a decade ago.… Read more

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