Memphis Will Soon Only Have Only One “Eye In the Sky”, The Commercial Appeal Fights Back, I Discover “Me” On Animal Planet, and A Former Co-worker has passed

I leave town for a week for work in Baltimore and I discover that I really am out of the loop.  I see that News Chopper 3 aka The Red Chopper won’t be gracing the skies of Memphis much longer.  According to a blurb in the Commercial Appeal, NC3 won’t be re-upping on the lease agreement for the helicopter after this ratings period ends.  It basically came down to costs and anyone who has dealings with an aircraft knows they are not inexpensive to fly.  When it comes to helicopters or “palm trees having a coniption” as some mechanics call them, the costs really soar.  Of course this is probably making the neighbors of WREG quite happy since the area on the bluff has really been built up with single family homes in the past four to five years, Add to that the fact that WREG built a helipad just outside the station and  those living around will probably appreciate the peace and quiet.  I know the fact that WMC had a news chopper for years and WREG didn’t really stuck in the craw of those DOTR.  I would imagine that WMC will really promote the heck out of their chopper now and there will be a mad scramble to get access to whatever local aircraft is available when news breaks.  Moving on…

The Commercial Appeal (the paper of record here in the MidSouth) finally came out with the guns a-blazing this past Sunday following a story written by  former reporter Bill Dries.  The article,  written by none other than Chris Peck, Big Kahuna at the paper took Dries to task in a big way.  The commentary on the editorial page follows a lengthy article by Dries written for The Memphis News  entitled Deadline:What it’s really like inside the city’s big daily.  , (and by the way a story I initially ran across while reading the Mediaverse blog).  First let me say this: There are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth.  Having said that, I have always had a great deal of respect for Bill Dries from the time I first met him on the streets of Memphis as he covered news for radio.  Back then, I put him at the top of the reporters covering news for the electronic media and would venture a guess that he is still in fine form.  Also, having talked to the rank and file over the years at the C-A,  I remember after reading Dries’ article that I was thinking that I really wasn’t surprised at what he shared.  I’ve heard for years that the C-A was extremely middle management heavy and that it wasn’t necessarily how well you did your job rather it was how well you kissed up to the managers on whether or not you did well or got a promotion.   Yes, I’m sure all that has changed since the new managers took over a couple of years ago.  By the way, the Hernando Desoto bridge is for sale….any takers.  I’m letting it go for a song…  Moving on

I was in the process of drifting off to sleep last night and for some reason the only clear channel that came through the cable system was Animal Planet.  There was some show about dangerous/destructive animals and they were doing their countdown to the worst of the worst.  I was just about to click off the tube when video of the Asian carp infestation on the nation’s waterways came on.  I was watching video of these fish jumping everywhere when all of a sudden I saw some familiar looking video.  It was stuff that was shot for the old News Channel 3/Midsouth outdoors show.  How did I know this?  Because I was in it as was former Outdoor co-host/producer Jeff Woods.  Then the video cut to action of my father and me sitting in his boat where a fish jumped in and smacked me in the chest.  Interestingly enough, I could not see our faces because the video had been altered so that our faces were “ghosted” or blurred.  I guess they liked the video that Dan Patton shot that day but (and I can only speculate) since they didn’t have clearance to use it or didn’t want to run into legal issues they opted to NOT identify those in the video.  Can anyone tell me if news video can be used for entertainment purposes without permission?  Moving on.

Finally, I ran across some information that just about left me numb while reading the blog of former co-worker Doug Johnson.  He posted about the passing of a former co-worker of ours, Susan Browning.  I met Susan when I first went to work for WREG.  She was the medical reporter and was truly a lovely person both inside and out.  That’s almost a rare thing in the TV news business anymore.  She was always willing to offer advice when needed and it was much appreciated by those trying to find their way around the newsroom and the city.  She was married to one of the videographers at WREG and she and Don made a good looking couple.  Eventually Don left WREG and it wasn’t too much longer after that Susan left to work for ST. Jude.  Susan died on her 48th birthday.  I’m told that she had battled skin cancer. I’m sure the cancer and the treatment were hard on her.  As I write this though, I am remembering Susan as the brunette, brown eyed beauty who first greeted me in the newsroom.  Her obit in the Orlando Sentinel included this line: In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Youth Department of the First United Methodist Church of Oviedo, 263 King Street, Oviedo FL 32765. Yes, that’s typical of  Susan, always thinking of others.  My heart goes out to your family. I’m truly a better person for having known you.

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4 Comments on “Memphis Will Soon Only Have Only One “Eye In the Sky”, The Commercial Appeal Fights Back, I Discover “Me” On Animal Planet, and A Former Co-worker has passed”

  1. The GM Says:

    Bill Dries is a great reporter.

    Rather than reiterating all the challenges facing traditional media, particularly print; I’ll just say just because one is a manager doesn’t mean he is a leader.

    The GM

  2. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    Joe,
    Re: Susan Browning. I was stunned to hear of her passing. Like you, I thought she was one of the sweetest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. I remember when Don and I were talking about his decision to ask her to marry him. “She’s perfect for me!” he proclaimed with a grin. My heart goes out to him and their children.

  3. Doug Johnson Says:

    Bill D’s a class guy. I’m leaning towards his interpretation of what’s up at the CA. Media managers always seem to start out as regular folk, but something happens as they rise… that, coupled with the problems newspapers are having everywhere seem to add up to trouble.

    As for the Animal Planet video, be glad it wasn’t one of those “party” videos with your face blacked out. Kidding. Although, I’d think if it was identifiable, it would be actionable. But if NC3 doesn’t want to pay for a chopper, they probably don’t want to pay for a lawyer either.

    Susan was just too young for something like this to happen. “Nice” always comes to mind when I think of her. Don always came across to me as a nice person to me too. So sad.

  4. Doc Pepper Says:

    Separation from a job or spouse can be ugly! No matter how true Bill is or was in the article. There is a built in “disgruntled” title that is connected to the man’s name that will be used as a way to kill the comment.

    No doubt Bill Dries has more truth than the CA will admit to.

    The CA indicated it had problems (1) when it separated operational titles and (2) when hired an editor outside of the Scripps corporate culture.

    I hate to say it but the Desoto Appeal wasn’t that innovative. The Cincinnati post did the same thing with the Kentucky Post, and the Evansville Courier Press did the same thing by buying the (Henderson KY) Gleaner.

    It is apparent the paper makes money. Otherwise Like Birmingham, Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, Washington, and other papers S-H has shuttered, it would be closed. The issue is the amount of profit is way down.

    The paper is still too top heavy and over-paid at the top. But chiefs never kill chiefs, but slaughter indians (workers).

    What the CA has to do is put together a paper that compels people to buy. This might mean free classifieds, cut the news-stand price, have information the TV news doesn’t give, and/or present cutting edge investigative reporting.

    The easiest (and cheapest) option is the free classified ads. Internet has killed the classified ad. This brings information that people want. In a depressed economy this attracts readers. Once readers return, so will the paid business ads. Then having information and investigative reporting will hold them.

    Synergies with other media (TV-RADIO-Internet must be established. A Drake and Zeke music column, A Handy Andy Wise column, weather reports from TV weather men, and news from TV reporters.


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