Articles about "TV News"

Q: Why is Vice on TV? A: Why do people rob banks?

Partway through his interview with Vice News Editor-in-Chief Jason Mojica Friday, City University of New York professor Jeff Jarvis asked why Vice still pumps out content over TV. “You’ve got the fucking Internet!” Jarvis exclaimed. “Why would you even dance with the old models?”

“Why do people rob banks?” Mojica replied. “That’s where the money is.”

That exchange evinced the tension at the heart of Friday’s summit about reinventing TV and video news, held at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism. The conference aimed to fix a medium that in many cases is still making money by the truckload.

Mojica. (Photograph courtesy Vice)

Mojica. (Photograph courtesy Vice)

But you can’t drive that truck far into the future, Jarvis argued in his opening remarks, during which he urged people to get complaints about TV news tropes out of their systems. (His beef: Standups in front of places where nothing is happening.) Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project showed graphs that showed that CNN, for example, is running fewer reported pieces and more opinion, just as people under 29 flee the medium.

Mojica talked about Vice’s remarkable rise as a news source, telling Jarvis he hired people from mainstream TV orgs who “want to get out of it for the right reasons,” and that his target audience is his younger self, a guy who never understood what the Lewinsky scandal was about and only began paying attention to world affairs after 9/11.

Jarvis asked Mojica what he’d do if handed the reins to “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams.” While noting that “A lot of the things that we see as problems with TV news are what it’s been reverse-engineered to achieve,” Mojica said he’d “Go back and rethink every component of it — why is the desk like this? Why are we spending so much time looking at hotel comforters under a black light?”

He’d also increase international coverage and “increase the level of what is written,” Mojica said. He remembered fondly the just-the-facts tone of CBS’ “In the News” features that used to run between Saturday morning cartoons, something he strives to emulate in Vice reports.

“Whenever people decide they’re going to make news for young people,” Mojica said, “it always comes off like older people making TV for young people.” He said he thought writers of shows aimed at young people write them with an idea that kids are innocent. They “don’t realize that they’re in the world experiencing real shit, having sex, doing drugs and talking about important issues.”

After Mitchell, a slate of speakers gave five-minute lightning pitches for improving local news. They ranged from things that sounded like they just might work (Adam Davidson talked about the “Now I Get It” moments the Planet Money podcast shoots for, as well as public radio’s business model; Twitter’s Fred Graver pitched a show that could “embrace the conflict” between journalists’ presentation and the audience’s discussion of news), swipes at the status quo (“I have yet to have anyone in the real world tell me they like packages,” Bloomberg News’ Tom Keene said) and things I didn’t fully understand (“Enjoy the sparkly conversations of a living room” went one pitch).

During the panel’s wrap-up, Jarvis fielded a question about the paucity of women who spoke — he should have done better, he said, noting some women he’d asked to speak had said no — and someone else asked whether anyone under 25 spoke. CUNY Students, though, were everywhere, some holding iPhones on sticks and videoing people in the room.

During a final panel, ESPN senior vice president Rob King said that any media company that looks at metrics has to “accept the hard truths” they offer: You have to deliver what your audience expects. “You’ve got to find the right balance between the transaction that’s expected and the ability to inject into that transaction, wonder,” he said. “Wonder for us is who’s going to win, what’s going to happen next.” Other TV news outlets have to identify their own wonders.

Here’s a Storify of the event that CUNY put together:


TV stations supply less news to other local media


Fewer local TV stations say they supply news content to newspapers, radio stations or other TV stations than in previous years, Bob Papper reports in the latest installment of the RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey.

In the survey three years ago, Papper writes, “I noted that cooperative ventures had been growing during a down or uncertain economy … and that it would be interesting to see how they hold up as the economy improves. Last year’s evidence suggested that they’re shrinking. That trend has continued this year as well.”

The change isn’t huge, but Papper notes that all categories went down. Read more


News directors most likely to be named Mike, Jennifer or Kelly

Radio Television Digital News Association

Television stations’ news directors are most likely to be in their mid-40s and have been at their stations for an average of 5.7 years, Hofstra University professor emeritus Bob Papper reports. They’re also likely to be named Mike, Jim or David if they’re men or Jennifer, Kelly or Julie if they’re women, Papper writes, adding, “Apparently I have too much time on my hands.”

Papper is rolling out results from his 20th annual survey of the broadcast news biz for RTDNA. Read more


No-knock policy bars TV station staff from rapping on crime suspects’ doors

A Houston television station is telling its staff not to knock on the doors of crime suspects. The station issued a memo saying it is too big a risk to journalists’ safety, but others see the move as a way for stations to protect themselves legally. And the president of the Society of Professional Journalists says such a broad order may result in weaker journalism that could be unfair to people accused of crimes.

KTRK-TV Houston News Director David Strickland issued the order to his staff after  reporter Demond Fernandez knocked on the door of a man accused of child sex abuse. The man told the TV crew to turn off the camera (which they didn’t) then he produced a gun.

Strickland wrote to his staff:

I know this will come off as opportunistic in the wake of today but I’ll allow my vanity to take the hit.

Since the Demond “knock on the door gun incident” from earlier this year, Don Kobos and I have been discussing the merits of knocking on doors of crime suspects. In short, we just don’t see the need to do it as the risk to reward ratio does not justify it. It’s just a sound-bite.

From this point forward reporters are not to go to a suspect’s house and knock on the door seeking comment. Producers and Managers are prohibited from ordering reporters and photographers from this type of news gathering.

As for other stories not involving a suspect, if the reporter or photographer thinks there is an editorial need to cold call knock on someone’s door they must get a manager’s permission first.

I know there are always circumstances that will frustrate this rule. In those cases, please discuss this with a manager and we will figure it all out.

It’s just not worth getting someone hurt over a sound-bite.

I’m sorry for not sending this out quicker.

Strickland told me he could not comment on the memo but sources have confirmed its authenticity.

This is no small matter. Journalists in newsrooms big and small tell me constantly that the “door-knock” is the part of their job they dread and hate the most. In addition to the danger, they say they feel like vultures.

Attorney Darrell Phillips, a former journalist whose practice includes working with journalists on contract and employment issues, told me in an email exchange that KTRK’s new directive provides important protection for the journalist AND for the station.

“The memo sets a policy that has a clear practical effect,” he wrote. “Reporters at that station are not likely to feel any anxiety about whether they’re going to have to take a risk to impress their employers. More importantly, I think it clearly protects them from a producer who instructs them to ‘go’ when they are not comfortable going.”

But Phillips points out that the memo also could, in theory, limit the station’s liability if a journalist ignores the memo and put himself or herself in harm’s way. (It is important to note that Phillips is not suggesting KTRK is trying to do anything other than keep its staff safe.) Phillips says when a station issues a directive not to do something, and a journalist does it anyway and gets hurt, the station might successfully say it has no liability.

Phillips writes: “Here is what makes this policy interesting, Al. If I work at KTRK and I decide to go anyway, despite the clear mandate from my employer not to knock, then a court is likely to find that I am acting outside the “scope of my employment” and that the employer is not liable for anything that happens to me when I am acting outside the policy.” (Phillips added the underline for emphasis.)

He said, “If they (the journalists) do the work and get hurt, after the issuance of the policy, I think if I were the station’s lawyer I would argue that the station is not liable at all.”

So why wouldn’t more stations adopt this policy? Phillips says nobody wants to be seen as taking a  “non-competitive” position. Bosses might resist sending a signal that they might be willing to take a pass on aggressively going after a big story.

I asked David Cuillier, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, to take a look at the memo. Cuillier told me that broadcast journalists should reconsider how they approach people they want to interview in less than pleasant circumstances.

“What sets people off is seeing that TV camera,” Cuillier said. “In the KTRK video, the man said to get the camera away from him. In my journalism career I have knocked on a lot of doors and I have never had anybody go ballistic like that. The camera is really what is setting people off.”

Cuillier said if journalists adopt a “no-knock” policy, they will have to be sure they provide a way for the people that are the subject of their stories to speak if they wish to. “It seems to me the people have a right to comment when it involves them.”

Cuillier says if journalists see the door-knock as “a visual technique to enhance the drama of a story, that it is more about pumping the ratings rather than giving the person the right to respond…then sure, don’t do it anymore. Find other ways to make the story compelling. No need to risk reporters’ lives just to pump ratings. But that’s not what it should be about – it should be about letting the source have a say, a right of rebuttal or explanation.” Read more


News gets less local as station owners get bigger

“Our investment thesis is simple,” Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori told New York Times reporter David Carr last year. “Scale matters.”

For local television stations, 2013 was a year of scale. This year’s State of the News Media report runs down the consolidations and acquisitions that saw almost 300 TV stations change hands: Tribune buying Local TV Holdings. Gannett ending up with more than 40 stations after purchasing Belo. Media General merging with New Young, and just last week buying LIN Media to operate 74 stations. Sinclair agreeing to buy stations from Allbritton (a company I once worked for) and Fisher Communications to end up with 167 stations it will own, operate or provide services to. Nexstar Broadcasting Group closing the year with 108 stations under its auspices. Read more


NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders injured by broken TV light

NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders said in a Twitter post Thursday that he suffered serious eye injuries while covering the Michael Dunn trial in Jacksonville, Fla., in February.


In the post that he attached to his tweet, Sanders explained that the injuries were caused by a malfunctioning HMI TV light that slowly damaged his corneas while he reported live on the Today Show, MSNBC and NBC Nightly News.

Sanders wrote in his post that the light fried the skin on his face and: “Not only could I not see, but my eyes burned in pain as if two hot coals smoldered in my sockets. The darkness lasted a frightening 36-hours. I still see foggy halos and out-of-focus views. The doctors say my eyesight will eventually return to normal.”

Networks and high-end production companies use HMI or hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lights because the lights are color balanced for outdoor use. The light they put out is about the same color as sunlight. But the lights are dangerous if used incorrectly.

Every HMI lamp should have an ultra-violet safety glass covering it. When the UV filter fails, injuries like the ones Sanders suffered can result. Usually HMI lights have a safety switch that shuts off the light globe if the UV filter lens door is broken or open. We don’t know how the filter failed in Sanders’ case. Here is a link to an HMI manufacturer’s website to give you an idea of what the lights look like and how they operate.

Most local TV stations use lower cost tungsten or LED lights and put color gels over the lights to achieve about the same color temperatures as the HMI lights.

Sanders suffers increasing pain

Sanders explains the slow painful onset of his problems that started around 8 p.m. By 2 a.m, he said he was in agony.

“My eyes had swollen shut and I could no longer tough out the escalating pain. I called for a cab. It was 25-minutes away, maybe longer. Desperate, and perhaps with a mind muddled by pain, I grabbed the keys to the rental car. With my finger and thumb I pried open one of my now puffed-shut eyes, I aimed the car to the nearest hospital. Why I didn’t call 911 for ambulance is something I still can’t explain.”

Sanders said when he got to the hospital, doctors told him his corneas were “fried.”

“The anesthetic eye-drops to ease the pain lasted only about 15 minutes and then the agony returned. The biggest problem: those powerful drops could cause permanent injury so I would get only four per eye and no more.”

By morning, Sanders said, he was blind.

As his doctors predicted, his eyesight is returning, slowly. He says he is about 80 percent healed now.

While he has been recovering, he and his siblings made a long planned trip to the Andes to release his mother’s ashes in Peru, where she grew up.

“We stuck to our plan and made our way south. My sister was sort of my seeing eye-dog, and my brother played the pack mule, carrying my luggage.

“More than 7,000 feet up, along the Inca Trail, we found the perfect spot to release her ashes. While there may be a detail or two I couldn’t make out, I could see the stunning beauty my mother always talked about when she would remember her childhood.”

Sanders said the first thing he will look for when he gets back to work at NBC is “those damn HMI lights, in the off position of course. Right now I’m not sure what to look for, but you can be sure I’m going to find out. And if being around camera lights is anywhere in your job description, you should too.”

Other on-air journalists responded to Sander’s tweet saying they too had been injured in HMI accidents.




I asked experienced photojournalist friends how common HMI injuries are. Here are some of the responses I got:

Richard Adkins: WRAL TV

“HMI lights, as with any piece of equipment, if used improperly, set up incorrectly, or poorly maintained, can be dangerous. I know I’m a geek, but I read instruction manuals, and I would encourage everyone to do so. But it all boils down to maintaining the gear, checking the set up, and taking the time to make sure everything is okay.”

Bethany Swain: University of Maryland lecturer, former CNN photojournalist

“I know two CNN reporters who had this happen, both after long days doing live shots outside. But only heard of two in all of my years and all of the thousands of days using them. Neither were with lights I set up, thank goodness.”

“I remember liking to have one of our lighting experts check my lights sometimes so I had another person to double check. The check takes a few seconds. “

Sanders’ injury is a wake-up call not just to photojournalists but to reporters and anchors who stand in front of TV lights. TV stations should use this story as a reminder that TV gear should be used by professionals and professionals need training. Read more

WGAL photo

How WGAL TV kept the newsroom running when the roof collapsed

WGAL-TV (Lancaster, Pa.) News Director Dan O’Donnell was on the other side of the building from the newsroom at 3:20 Friday afternoon when he said he heard “what sounded like a truck backing into the building. Others said it sounded like thunder. Then ceiling tiles came down. The newsroom roof was collapsing.”

Engineers discovered a concrete support beam and slab had shifted and dropped. Luckily, no one was injured.

Snow packed WGAL-TV’s rooftop. A beam shifted forcing the station to evacuate. (Photo from WGAL used with permission)
Lancaster has been buried in snow for the last couple of weeks. “It was snow related,” O’Donnell said, “We covered three or four roof collapses before we had our problems. We had a foot of snow this week, 8 inches fell the week before. So there was a lot of snow up there.”

The WGAL team moved out of the newsroom to a downstairs studio. But when police and fire officials arrived, they ordered everyone out of the building. Everyone.

WGAL staffers stand in the parking lot of their own station to begin work covering the story about themselves. (Photo from WGAL used with permission)

“We went out on the front lawn and set up a newsroom there,” O’Donnell told me. “But with nobody in the station, we could not get a live signal on the air. There was nobody to receive the signal and punch it up on the air.” So the station had to find another way to report not only on itself, but on the storm that had blanketed the community.

“There is no doubt  that we, the television station, were the lead story in our market. But the newsroom knew that we have got to report on more than ourselves. We are a news organization and there is a storm coming through.”

O’Donnell was standing on the snow-covered station lawn when he said something out loud about needing to move the newsroom somewhere else quickly. An assistant fire chief heard him and suggested the station try the nearby city government building.

WGAL plans news coverage from its temporary newsroom inside a city municipal building. (Photo from WGAL used with permission)

Within an hour, newscast producers moved tables in the government office building to construct a make-shift newsroom. But there was still a big problem. No matter what, there still was no way to broadcast the news. “We used our website and Facebook to report,” O’Donnell said.

Once the newsroom was running, the WGAL team started producing streaming content for their website. But it took a lot of innovation. Reporters wanted to file stories, but there was no way to play the stories on the web stream. So they held up their iPads with whatever video they had captured and narrated and showed it on the tablet screen. A photojournalist focused on a screen while a meteorologist narrated information from the radar track.

WGAL news team hustles to set up a temporary newsroom in a city building, then starts live streaming coverage of a winter storm that hit the area. (Photo from WGAL used with permission)

Then there was the issue of the Olympics. WGAL is an NBC station and without an operation control room, the station had to scramble to find a way to get the network signal on air. Working with WBAL in Baltimore and WCAU in Philadelphia, the station was able to snag the NBC signal and keep the Olympics on the air.

The station also had the help of it’s parent company, Hearst.

Hearst Vice President for News, Candy Altman, told me, “After Hurricane Katrina, we as a company adjusted our broadcast interruption plans and in the WGAL situation, our corporate engineering team led by Marty Faubell jumped in to try and get them up and running as quickly as possible.  In the meantime, our digital content editor Ernie Mourelo got their livestream up on an alternate platform  via yo space so they were livestreaming news by 6pm and their website was being updated by their own web editor and our digital hub. Many stations were either getting ready or were immediately on the way. Our sales and traffic teams worked to adjust logs and our senior management team led by Mike Hayes, legal and programming teams worked with the cable operators.”

Hearst Vice President for News, Barb Maushard added, “The corporate team coordinated  help as we do for any station in an emergency.  We jumped on conference calls to figure out how to best address the unique challenges of the situation.  And then we started calling in stations like WBAL who sent engineers and equipment immediately.  WTAE who took in a satellite signal and routed  it for live streaming so the news could go on. We had five other stations preparing to send people with equipment to help support a remote location and several others volunteering to help.   There is never a shortage of people willing to help and quick to respond to the call.

O’Donnell says he’s already learned a lot of lessons. “What we did was employ our breaking news plan. I have never practiced the what-if-the-roof-collapses drill. The first thing that happened is there is a sense of disbelief that news is happening to you. For a few moments, it was hard to get people going. There was a moment of ‘we really are abandoning ship, we gotta go. We gotta go now.”‘

Cranes arrive Saturday to help inspectors survey damage at WGAL TV in Lancaster, Pa. (Photo permission WGAL)

Saturday morning, a crane arrived. Crews surveyed the wreckage, went inside and installed a steel beam to reinforce the damaged area. Barely 24 hours after the station was ordered evacuated, it was back on the air Saturday evening after inspectors said WGAL staffers could go back inside.

Inspectors allow the news staff to return to its newsroom in time for a 6 p.m. Saturday newscast. (Photo from WGAL used with permission)

The WGAL experience is a strong reminder to journalists of all media to have a plan for what you would do if you had to leave your office right away.

  • How would you continue reporting to your community? In the end that was Dan O’Donnell’s biggest concern. He said he felt WGAL had a duty to continue reporting on the winter weather and not get bogged down covering itself.
  • What will “corporate” folks need to know and how does your relationship with other stations in your group work when you need support for news and engineering?
  • The sales department will be affected by lost ads. Is there new ad opportunity online with increased content being generated for the online site in the short term?
  • Could you build a partnership with a radio stationto carry your online newscasts? 
  • Where could you go to set up an office that has Internet connections and enough space to work?
  • If you had to evacuate your newsroom in the next hour, what kinds of gear would you take with you? What will you leave behind and how would you quickly protect what you leave from damage?
  • What computer backups do you need to have in place if your on-site servers were damaged by something like a roof collapse, fire or flood? Can you access your online servers from off-site?
  • Do you know how to contact your cable carriers quickly?  Could you use the cable company’s facilities?
  • Is your office inventory up to date if you had to make an insurance claim? Where is that inventory list kept? Do you have serial numbers and the photos you would need to make claims?.
  • What does your company’s business interruption insurance cover? Would it help pay for a relocation?
  • Do you have a “go-pack” ready that includes emergency contact information for staff, enough cash to keep things running?
  • Have you considered any kinds of agreements with competitors, contractors or freelancers that could kick in during an emergency? What facilities might a university have that would house a newspaper, TV or radio staff, for example? Who else in your community might have a fully functional studio or a working environment similar to a newspaper office?
  • Could you contact your main equipment and software providers to help replace anything you lost in a disaster? Could those vendors and suppliers help you with loaned or rented gear during your emergency relocation?
  • Have you practiced a “bug out” to see if you could actually pull it off? A couple of years ago when a tropical storm passed through St. Pete, we “bugged out” of Poynter more or less to practice our response in moving a seminar off-site quickly. I learned a lot and have no doubt I could do it quickly if needed now. I highly recommend routine practice runs and hope you will never have to use the knowledge for real.

Al Tompkins helps lead Poynter’s Producer Project, March 21-April 29. Learn to expand your expertise as a TV producer with new writing, storytelling, coaching and ethical decision-making skills taught online and in person. Read more

Conan O'Brien discusses his life and the art of comedy during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Conan’s comedy bit hints at serious issues for local TV news

Just before the holidays, late-night comedian Conan O’Brien poked a little fun at local TV newscasts. In doing so, he illustrated some serious issues about the compromises journalists make in understaffed newsrooms.

O’Brien strung together clips of two dozen local news anchors reading an identical story – a consumer report about the supposed trend of holiday “self gifting.” The newscasts were broadcast in different cities – from Boise to Ft. Wayne to Dothan, Ala., but each of the anchors introduced the story with the exact same words: “It’s okay; you can admit it if you bought an item or two or ten for yourself.”

O’Brien has aired similar montages in the past, capturing repetition in local stories about such topics as Cyber Monday shopping, restaurants that serve political-themed food, and the news that actor Mike Myers and his wife were expecting a baby. The compilations are popular fodder for Internet discussions, where viewers attributed the homogeneity to “consumerist propaganda,” “controlled brainwashing,” and “corporations spitting out prefabricated copies of fake news.”

The truth is less conspiratorial. Each story O’Brien featured was supplied by a syndication service that distributes scripts, video clips, and fully-produced news packages to local stations. The self gifting story came from CNN Newsource, which claims 800 affiliates. (CNN is part of Time Warner, which also owns the TBS cable channel that airs “Conan.”)

You’re almost certainly watching syndicated content when your local newscast shows video of national or international stories. Stations also rely on Newsource for sports highlights, business and consumer reports, entertainment news, and stories CNN categorizes as “Caught on Camera,” “Animals,” “Kickers,” and “Easy to Tease.”

“Those services give us the ability to run different content in each show,” said Matthew Weesner, the news director at KHGI in Kearney, Neb., one of the stations O’Brien included in the self gifting montage. “We’re doing six and a half hours of live programming a day, and we’ve got a lot of space to fill with a pretty small newsroom.”

Weesner notes the arrangement with Newsource is not unlike the deals news organizations have maintained for decades with wire services such as the Associated Press. Still, Weesner says he wasn’t happy when he saw the O’Brien routine, which revealed that KHGI’s staff was “ripping and reading” syndicated content, a practice he discourages in his newsroom.

“People are supposed to be at least rewriting the lead sentence, and hopefully the entire lead-in to the package,” Weesner said in a phone interview. “As soon as we saw that happen, we said it was time to reevaluate how we do things so that something like that doesn’t happen again.”

“You hope they’ve done their due diligence”

Used appropriately, video syndicators can greatly enhance newscasts, bringing viewers important stories that are obviously beyond the reach of a local station’s reporters. It was through CNN Newsource, for instance, that WMFD in Mansfield, Ohio, broadcast news of this week’s Russian bombings and the website of KRDO in Colorado Springs had access to a report on the South Sudanese violence.

But the self gifting story — which can be seen in its entirety here and here — exhibits some of the pitfalls of syndicated content. Even if viewers don’t detect the canned intro, they might notice that the rest of the story has a generic feel, featuring non-descript video of an unnamed mall and, in some versions, interviews with unnamed shoppers.

Some stations also edited key facts out of the story or presented it in ways that overhyped its premise. The original CNN report was largely based on a survey from the National Retail Federation, which annually asks people “if they plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make additional non-gift purchases.” The survey concluded that self gifting has increased over the past decade, but consumers planned to slightly cut back on the practice this year.

KTNV in Las Vegas missed that subtlety when it called self gifting “a trend that’s exploded.” Meanwhile, KGUN in Tucson aired the story without attributing the data to the National Retail Federation or mentioning any source for the statistics at all. That’s not a small omission, as retailers have a vested interest in promoting self gifting to help drive holiday sales.

It’s likely that a local journalist, given time to report the story in his or her own community, could have produced a more informed, more original, and certainly more local examination of consumers’ holiday spending. But many newsrooms don’t have enough reporters to assign one to that story.

Perhaps more troublesome, they also may lack the resources to scrutinize or fact-check syndicated stories before they broadcast them verbatim.

“That’s a concern,” said News Content Manager Kevin Wuzzardo at WWAY in Wilmington, N.C., a station that’s appeared in several O’Brien montages. “That’s why you rely on established, credible sources like the Associated Press and the networks and CNN.”

“You hope that they’ve done their due diligence,” Wuzzardo said in a phone interview.

‘Rip and read’ is common, but do viewers care?

A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment directly on O’Brien’s parody, but noted in an emailed statement that ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox provide similar news content for their local affiliates.

Indeed, the use of national feeds has increased as stations expand the number of hours they devote to local news while paradoxically cutting news staff and budgets.

“This is a sad state of affairs, but the TV equivalent of ‘rip-and-read’ content is prevalent in all markets,” said University of Hawaii Communications Professor Ann Auman, who used to work as a newspaper and television journalist. “Many of these stations are now owned by national corporate owners who have little interest in investing in news reporting in the local market.”

In an email, Auman noted that overreliance on syndicated stories results in local newscasts that are homogenized and lack local content and diverse voices. That not only makes the newscasts fodder for O’Brien’s recurring comedy routines, but also helps fuel viewer cynicism. And it encourages the Internet memes that cast TV news as a cog in a coordinated propaganda campaign.

“It doesn’t make us look very good,” said Weesner, the news director in Kearney, Neb. “To the average viewer who doesn’t fully understand how a newsroom works, that can be a problem.”

Related: Why local newscasters said ‘Yeah, baby’ about Mike Myers news Read more


Nashville rallies behind TV reporter’s winter hat

Suburban Turmoil

Lindsay Ferrier says she used to hate the fuzzy hat her husband, WSMV-TV reporter Dennis Ferrier made a point of wearing during winter weather in Nashville.

But “it looks like that hat is here to stay,” she writes. Dennis Ferrier’s employer asked viewers to sound off on whether they liked his ushanka:

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Why local newscasters said ‘Yeah, baby’ about Mike Myers news

Last Thursday, actor Mike Myers announced he’s expecting another child with wife Kelly Tisdale. Considering that Myers is still associated with his role as zany British detective Austin Powers in the three-part series, national news outlets were quick to make such a reference in delivering the news.

Groovy, baby — again!” People magazine gushed. “Yeah, baby!” the Huffington Post exclaimed. But how was the news playing on local newscasts? Well, on Thursday night, Conan O’Brien’s show “Conan” decided to compile videos of local news anchors breaking the story.

“Local news found a really unique way to tell the story,” O’Brien said, setting viewers up for the punch line.

The segment showed 29 separate local newscasters using the exact same line — “Mike Myers says ‘yeah, baby’” — in reporting the news. While some anchors nailed Myers’ signature catchphrase from the film, others sounded more Australian than English.

Read more