Observations About Media on a Monday

There’s no such thing as bad publicity about a TV station as long as they get the call letters right.”  Those words are from a former news director from WREG during my tenure there.  I’ve thought about what he said on a number of occasions since I first heard the phrase  and I will have to beg to differ on his observation.  I think there IS such a thing as bad publicity.

The most recent case of a local news person finding himself/herself as part of the news came to my attention as I read the Commercial Appeal this Monday morning.  The news article focused on the John Elkington who manages the city owned entertainment district known as Beale Street.  Mr. Elkington is a nice guy, I’ve run into him off and on over the years and even more so since he married Valerie Calhoun, a fixture on WHBQ Fox 13’s Morning show for years now.  Heck, Elkington and I are linked on our Facebook page.  (I’m sure he regrets that now.)  I’ve always thought he was a nice guy and still do.  But the article in the C-A mentions about how he transferred some property to his wife’s name. Again, there is nothing wrong with that.  People do this kind of thing all the time.  Having said that, we all know how much TV newsrooms depend on the local newspapers for facts, background, heck pretty much all of the information from the story.  TV stations tend to just shoot video, pull pictures from websites, maybe get some sound even if it is “no-comment” from the people involved or perhaps some video of someone walking to his or her car to round out the story.  In this particular newspaper story, Ms. Calhoun is mentioned twice.  Now I haven’t seen the coverage among Memphis TV stations but I would pretty much bet that Ms. Calhoun’s purchase of the office building in question for ten bucks plays a big part in the TV coverage.  My questions:  How are the competing stations handling this?  Are they identifying her as “Valerie Calhoun, co-host of the very popular morning show on Fox 13 news” or are they just referring to her as “an on-air personality of a local TV station and she doesn’t work here?” This by the way is the second time WHBQ’s Morning show has had a high profile member in the news.  Remember Ron Meroney, the likeable co-host of the Fox 13 morning show was arrested a couple of years ago on a charge from Maryland for statutory rape of a child under 14.   As I said, there IS such a thing as bad publicity.  Moving on.

“If it weren’t for bad news, we’d have no news at all. ”  I heard that expression once or twice and there is some truth to that.  That’s what seems to be coming from the business sector these days and the ripple effect is really starting to show up at TV stations.  Allbritton is the latest to swing the budget axe and even those stations that haven’t dipped into the old coin purse to cough up some cash for TV stations over the past couple of years are taking it on the chin.  Not many people are buying things these days, advertising is down, therefore income at stations is down and the belt-tightening is serious.  These are the times when you want to really be showing how versatile you are at TV stations.  And while there are some working in the newsrooms who turn their noses up at the One Man Band/Backpack Journalist gig, I think you will see more and more stations using that approach to news coverage.  Granted, there are still times when you need a team to cover something and if you want to really show your I-Team Investigator get into the face of somebody, you need a separate shooter.  The video always plays much better when someone is about to get the bejeezus kicked out of them when it’s being shot by someone other than the kicker or the kickee.  Plus, it can be hard covering hard news in a OMB/BJ situation.  But, people are doing it everyday and I think you will see more people do it as the times get tougher.

Finally, it’s been about a week or so since the big brouhaha broke about the “consultant” for FedEx who got busted after complaining about the city Memphis.  For those of you not quite up to speed on this, in a nutshell, the consultant type person was here in Memphis to bascially bring some folks at FE, which happens to be the city’s largest employer, up to speed on how to use the blogosphere to promote the company.  This consultant then went on his Twitter page to trash the Bluff City.  A FE employee ran across the comment and sent a memo of his/her own  to senior members of FE and senior members of the consultant’s  company and then THE WHOLE THING was leaked to the local newspaper.  Bottom line….be careful what you write.  It could come back to haunt you.  An aside to this whole fracas, one person in Arizona plans to use this incident as an example for his class that he teaches.  I’m sure others will use this example as well.

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3 Comments on “Observations About Media on a Monday”

  1. Brad Says:

    I could not believe that consultant was that stupid. He of all people should have known better. Then, he tried to play it off as an encounter with one person and that he/she was the inspiration for that tweet. I call bs on that. He’s from Atlanta and did what he could to trash our city. Furthermore, no city should be judged by their airport area of town. Of all the cities I’ve flown to, they ALL look like hell around the airport. They’re commercial, distribution areas.

  2. Doug J. Says:

    An OMB in NYC has his own blog to talk about the shifts in the media firmament: http://onemanbandworld.blogspot.com/

  3. the tall tv guy Says:

    It’s funny how you hear of news through the internet email grapevine when you should have received a phone call (or email) earlier.

    I was bitten years ago when I send out an email requesting comp time off after working many extra hours on a project that took 18 months to complete. I had planned to filter it through my boss first but I happened to hit the wrong button. It didn’t matter though…they had made plans to reorganize the department and many of us left when the PTB were not completely honest. Just a few years later, those guys moved on something else.

    When will NDs get it?? I don’t watch the news for drama. If I want drama, I’ll watch CSI!!!

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