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.


What journalists should know about the Greek banking crisis

Greece’s debt crisis most likely touched your retirement and investment accounts today as markets tumble on news that Greece will likely default on a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Greek banks are closed and the country of 11 million people has become a global focal point, again.

What’s the Problem?

Greece has a big payment due Tuesday. The country owes the IMF 1.54 billion euros. The fear, of course, is that Greece will default on the loan. The payment is due at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday. Greece asked for an extension, and Eurozone finance ministers said no, they also limited future emergency funding. The European Commission said Monday it has no plans to issue new reforms for Greece. The standoff is set. Read more


What Brian Williams said and what he should have said

Screen capture from the  Today Show.

Screen capture from the Today Show.

Brian Williams’ attempt to explain himself to the Today Show’s Matt Lauer didn’t explain anything.  And one reason his mea culpa rang hollow is because Williams did what children and criminals do; he used passive verbs when he should have used active verbs.

Williams said:

I would like to take this opportunity to say that what has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed. Has been dealt with. And going forward there are going to be different rules of the road.

He does not say WHAT has been identified or WHAT has happened. He does not say HOW those mistakes have been fixed and he does not say what the new rules of the road will be.  Read more


Will Meerkat and become the next big journalism apps?

Streaming video to your social followers may be the next big thing and journalists are already buzzing about the Meerkat app, and an even newer app called

Meerkat launched a few weeks ago and is currently only available for iPhones and iPads. It makes it easy to stream live video and audio to your Twitter feed. Just a touch of a button and you are live. Or you can schedule a feed and it will turn on automatically.

Don’t think of this like YouTube. Think of it as a live video source. Like SnapChat, the Meerkat videos disappear rather than sit on a server. It is easy to comment on the video feed during the broadcast. It is not the first in this app category. Read more


Journalism Diversity Champion Dori Maynard died Tuesday

Dori J. Maynard

Dori J. Maynard

She was only 56 years old, but it seems as if Dori Maynard has been teaching, preaching, fighting and encouraging news organizations to embrace diverse thinking for so much longer.

Her Institute’s website reported this morning, “The president of the Robert C. Maynard institute for Journalism Education and longtime champion of diversity in journalism and civic life, died Tues., Feb. 24, at her West Oakland home.” She died of lung cancer.

Her father Robert C. Maynard, was the former owner and publisher of the Oakland Tribune and wrote a twice weekly syndicated column about race and diversity and he was a regular on national news talk shows.  In 1992, Dori J. Maynard became the first woman to follow her father to Harvard as a Nieman scholar. Read more


7 things to know ahead of the FCC’s net neutrality vote

Protesters demonstrate across the street from the Comcast Center Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Philadelphia. Demonstrators called for further Federal Communications Commission regulation of Internet traffic to support "net neutrality," advocates who want strong government protections for the open Internet. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Protesters demonstrate across the street from the Comcast Center Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Philadelphia. Demonstrators called for further Federal Communications Commission regulation of Internet traffic to support “net neutrality,” advocates who want strong government protections for the open Internet. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

After years of hearings, lawsuits and bickering, you would think there is nothing left to say about the concept known as “net-neutrality.” But this is the time to pay attention.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on the plan Thursday, the written detailed plan has not been made public and won’t be until after the Thursday vote.

Tom Wheeler

Tom Wheeler

Wednesday, one day before the FCC votes on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Net Neutrality proposal, a Congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing that will be a last gasp effort to derail the President and Chairman’s plan. Read more

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What the FAA’s newly proposed drone rules mean to journalists

logoFAAIt will months, maybe years, before journalists can legally fly unmanned drone aircraft to capture video and photos.  But Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took another step toward issuing new rules that allow for legal commercial drone use.

The FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation propose that drone operators will not have to hold a pilot’s license. That was a suggestion by some who wanted drone operators to understand air safety as well as an airplane pilot. There may be different licenses for people flying aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds.

The proposed new rule would require unmanned aircraft operators to register their aircraft with the FAA, obtain an “unmanned operator certificate” and also have to undergo a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) background check. Read more


CBS’s Bob Simon Killed in Car Crash

Bio-Photo-Simon-60-xlargeOne of CBS News’ most honored journalists, Bob Simon, died in a car accident in New York City Wednesday night. Simon was 73.

Simon’s career spanned five decades from covering the Vietnam War to filing a story last Sunday for 60 Minutes about the movie “Selma.” He is the recipient of what is believed to be an unequaled 27 Emmy Awards for field reporting.

CBS said:

Simon recently reported on the persecution of Coptic Christians caught up in Egypt’s political turmoil and the situation in Fukushima, Japan, three years after it endured the triple tragedy of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. His 2012 story from Central Africa on the world’s only all-black symphony won him his fourth Peabody award and an Emmy. Another story about an orchestra in Paraguay, one whose poor members constructed their instruments from trash, won him his 27th Emmy.

Read more

Here’s why NBC didn’t fire Brian Williams

NBC President Deborah Turness announced Tuesday she is suspending Brian Williams for six months with no pay.

That could be a multi-million dollar penalty: In December, Williams signed a new five-year deal which Variety reported could be worth up to $10 million per year.

But why not fire him, as the pitchfork-bearing critics have demanded?

A suspension gives the network time to assess the damage Williams has done to his credibility. It also gives the network time to see if possible successors, like Lester Holt, can attract enough viewers to keep NBC from slipping out of first place in the evening news race. If not, NBC can rotate in other temporary replacements until they find a good fit.

Then, in mid-August, when TV news viewership is at its lowest, Williams could come back to work. Read more


Photos show Brian Williams’ New Orleans hotel was surrounded by water

This story will not prove that Brian Williams saw a body floating in the New Orleans’ floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina, but found and confirmed photographs that show the NBC Anchormans’ recollection is not as out of the question as some have claimed.

Williams is on a self-imposed time out from anchoring while his network looks into exaggerations about how close to danger he was while reporting in Iraq.

After Williams apologized for “misremembering” what happened in Iraq in March 2003, journalists began turning over stones to see if they could find other examples of exaggeration.

Over the weekend, the website GotNews flagged an interview in which Williams said, “When you look out your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down…” and round two of Williams’ nightmare began. Read more


Brian Williams and the culture of ‘I, we and us’

If he had stuck to telling stories about others and not himself, NBC anchorman Brian Williams would not be in the mess he is in this week.

Pay attention to the words highlighted in bold.

On March 26, 2003 when Tom Brokaw introduced Williams’ report on Dateline saying, “Our colleague Brian Williams is back in Kuwait City tonight after a close call over the skies in Iraq. Brian tell us what you got yourself into.” Williams reported, “In the end, Tom, it did give us a glimpse of the war as few have seen it. We asked the U.S. Army to take us on an air mission with them and they accepted. We knew there was risk involved, we knew we would be flying over Iraq, we discussed it, we weren’t cavalier about it. Read more

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