The Man Who Helped Shape the Look of Modern TV News Passes and The Legacy of College Basketball in Memphis and Using Social Media to Promote Your Station

Yes, I know I’m late on posting on the passing of legendary newsman Don Hewitt but I just look at it as better late than never.  I won’t go into his many accomplishments but I will say that innovations he introduced changed the look of local TV as everybody strived to look “like the big boys” at network.  As I understand it, he introduced cue cards for anchors so they were looking at the camera instead of the news copy on their desk.  That move paved the way to the creation of teleprompters that allowed just about anyone who could read to sit in front of a camera and regurgitate the news of the day.  In the early says, the anchor/s may have written most of what was being read.  Later, that changed (in many cases) where the anchors just showed up, put on make-up, read the news and then spent the rest of the time surfing the internet, talking to friends on the phone about how hard they worked and making appointments to get their hair/nails done.  (That may no longer be the case with the budget crunch at TV stations since most operations are having to do more with less).   Hewitt is credited (I’m told) with introducing “word supers” on the screen along with some graphic information.  All of this eventually morphed into what we see today as the face of TV.   I can honestly say it was his simple approach at the then ground-breaking news magazine show “60-Minutes” that helped inspire me to want to go into TV news.  His idea was basically “tell them a story”.   I watched 60 Minutes early on and was inspired by the mix of hard news and features.  I found out later when I went off to college that the folks on 60-Minutes made it look easy when in fact it was not.  They also had resources/budgets  that many local TV stations just did not have, although a number of them tried with various levels of success.  Any news organization that worked with a weekly P.M. Magazine, monthly feature show or weekly Outdoor show can trace their beginnings back to D-H, IMHO.   I don’t think Hewitt’s original idea was to make a lot of money with 60-Minutes but its popularity soon caught the attention of those who managed the money at TV operations across the country.  Imagine, putting news resources to work and the results can make you money.  Wow, what a concept.  I will raise an adult beverage in your honor Mr. Hewitt.  I doubt we will see the likes of you again and you will be missed, at least by old farts like me.

I was out of town on family business earlier this week in Western Kentucky and since some of my family members who still live in the Bluegrass State are big Kentucky Wildcast basketball fans, the topic of John Calipari came up.  For those of you not up to speed, Calipara left the University of Memphis to take over the coaching post at the University of Kentucky.  They’re still basically rubbing their hands with glee that they landed Calipari and I applaud them for it.  Hey, I’m still a Big Blue fan.  Having said that,  I’m reminded of the old adage “Be careful what you wish for”, especially after seeing the Thursday edition of the Commercial Appeal.  The headline was that the U of M will have to forfeit their season which helped land Calipari his job at Kentucky.  It seems the NCAA frowns on some of the stuff that took place (somebody else taking an athlete’s SAT exam for example) during Coach Cal’s reign.  That means for a second time, the great strides made by Calipari with a basketball program (remember UMass) have been stricken from the books because of “issues” that violate NCAA rules.  Knowing what I know about UK fans and their need to win, some don’t care what has to be done to win a national championship.  But if that title is ever taken away, Calipari will be gone faster than a mint julep on Derby Day.

Finally, I see a growing number of folks in the TV news business are using “social media” to get the word out about what is going on at their stations.  Hey, I applaud them.  While I’m signed up for Facebook, I still only manage to check in about once every three weeks to see what’s going on.  I know some people check in and write every hour or so.  It’s a great way to share information and keep your “peeps” in the loop of what’s going on.  I just haven’t been able to get into the swing of it and I can tell you Twitter is NOT in my future at all.  In fact, it’s all I can do to blog.  Having said that, I ran into an article in TVSpy/Shoptalk that I found to be interesting.  If you have time, check out “Using Social Media to Recruit Viewers, Six Rules You Should Never Break”.  I’m not saying that anyone has broken these rules, I’m just sharing the rules that were posted.  I’d be curious as to what others think about those rules.

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