Monday, July 30, 2007

Loss and more loss

*Lose the choppers
After the loss of four professionals in Phoenix last Friday when two news helicopters collided, I really can't say it better than Alan Mutter says it on his blog:

Once in a blue moon (after hurricanes, in certainstories), news helicopters are useful. But stations could save money and jobs by renting one from time to time. This ain't the 1970s. You can't impress anyone with Sky8 anymore.

*Snyder dies
Sad news with the death of Tom Snyder, one of the last of the old-style, classic interviewers. The cause of death was leukemia.
Snyder, who hosted interview shows on NBC and CBS, was known for having a cigarette in hand, sitting casually, as he interviewed guests from many walks of life. It really leaves Charlie Rose, who has that excellent show on PBS, as the last of those television interviewers who can talk to someone about Iraq one day and rock music the next. It's too bad. We need to see more of that today, not less.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Money, Bonds and Nick Saban

*Follow the money
The non-profit Public Citizen has this site, where you can track who's giving the gobs of green to the presidential candidates:

"For sale," indeed.....

*Bonds keeps adding to his a miserable human being
Aside from apparently being a cheater in just about every sense of the word, Barry Bonds also doesn't know jack about in Costas, one of baseball's announcers extraordinaire, lifelong fan and astute observer:

When asked about Schilling, according to the Associated Press, Bonds replied "Don't worry. My day will come." Yes it will, Barry....and you'll pay a higher price than you ever imagined.
By the way, Costas had a typically humorous response:

Quote of the day: "When I made those statements, they were true." Former Miami Dolphin Head Coach Nick Saban about his repeated denials last year about becoming the head coach at the University of Alabama. Saban is now - yep - head coach at the University of Alabama.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yes to meetings; no to DNC, Naugle

*It’s who you meet with:

Well, this will go over big (not):

Castro, with his health problems, may be a moot point. Chavez is not, however. Edwards is already facing heat for campaigning with actor Danny Glover, a Chavez buddy. And while the answer won’t affect Obama and Edwards in the rest of the country, it will hurt them in cash-rich South Florida. Let’s see what they have to say the next time they answer that question in these parts.

By the way, Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has an article about the Democratic presidential candidates not wooing the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

It points out that Bill Clinton appealed to them before he annouced his run for the presidency. His wife, who addressed them last year, isn't doing so right now. Let the Democrats remember the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill's words: People like to be asked. And Democrats need the middle to win the White House.

*Go bye-bye, Jim Naugle
Fort Lauderdale residents must be counting the days until the 2009 municipal election for mayor. Incumbent Jim Naugle can't run again, and it's just as well, because he's worn out his welcome by repeatedly insulting others. In the last year, he's managed to insult working-class families, civil servants and gays, all of whom play a major role in the city.
Back in the early 1990s, Fort Lauderdale was the darling of South Florida even though it had another mayor, Bob Cox, who had a tendency to say things he shouldn't have. This time, though, Naugle's mouth is hurting the city. Hopefully, in 2009, Fort Lauderdale voters will elect a mayor with a sharp eye on the city's future.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Journalism and journalism and correcting my boo-boo

*Keys to teen interest in news?
Following a Harvard University study on the low
interest of teenagers in getting hard news in
newspapers and online, my question is: What’s the key
to getting them interested? It may be in two
locations: The home and the classroom. Kids will be
interested in current events if parents are interested
in current events. And they will be engaged in the
classroom if they’re presented details about current
events in an interesting way.
The current standardized-test-heavy curriculums in
many classrooms across the country, including Florida,
don’t lend themselves to a critical study of current
events. That has to change, if Americans want a
brighter future for this country. We have to know
what’s going on in order to have – and elect – the
best and the brightest.

*Why Jacobson needed to be fired and what did WBBM do?
Another key to gaining the interest of young people in
the news: Make sure reporters act ethically.
Again, Amy Jacobson, fired the other day from
WMAQ-Channel 5 in Chicago, did not act ethically when
she was at the house of the estranged husband of a
missing woman, in her swimsuit and with her children.
Jacobson apparently had a tendency to try to get close
– too close - to her sources to get information. That
crosses the line of impartial, honest and honorable
journalism. I would imagine her personnel file had
included previous reprimands for that sort of thing,
and if it didn’t it should have.
Some have suggested sexism. My problem isn’t that she
was in a swimsuit. My problem is that she was there,
period, and with her kids, yet. The professional
became personal.
Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune writes that
Jacobson is on her “Image Rehab Tour.” Here’s what she
should say: “I violated journalism ethics by going to
the Sebac house with my kids. It crossed the line that
is necessary between reporters and their sources. I
blew it, and I’m sorry.” Then, she should catch up on
what she apparently didn’t learn about journalism
ethics in J-school.
That’s what she should do. However, what she is doing
is the usual celebrity mea culpa-rehabilitation jazz,
which will probably wind up with her doing a tabloid
or reality show someplace. My best hope is that
journalists and journalism students who do care about
being responsible learn from what she did.
(CORRECTION: By the way, I believe I wrote that
Jacobson and her family had been swimming at the Sebac
home. I goofed. Apparently, they were in their
swimsuits on their way to another locale when they went to
the Sebac place. I’m sorry for making that
WBBM, the station that ran the footage of Jacobson,
may not be guiltless, either. There are questions
about how the station obtained the video and its
process in bringing it to air.
Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute writes about the

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mourning Lady Bird

Late word today of the death of former First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, at age 94. "Lady Bird" was an appropriate nickname for her, given her love of the environment. In recent years, the release of tapes LBJ and she made in the White House confirmed how much she advised her husband on various issues. Here is the Associated Press obituary link:

*Chicago reporter in swimsuit fired

*More ethics trouble in Chicago
Amy Jacobson was fired from WMAQ-Channel 5 in Chicago
after showing up in a swimsuit at the backyard pool of
the estranged husband of a woman who disappeared. If
this was an effort to get more information from a
source, it seriously backfired, as a Chicago Tribune
article says today:

Her bosses made the right decision. There are varying degrees of closeness between reporters and sources; this was way too close.

*Hollywood includes television, too
A Washington Post article by Ann Hornaday mentions the
film industry’s slow toe-dipping into movies about the
civil rights movement. It is too slow, but “Hollywood”
doesn’t just include film; it also features
television, and TV was tackling the civil rights
movement when all television sets were still black and
white and reached its peak during the 1970s, with a
number of weekly series, movies and miniseries. The
bad news is that there hasn’t been much on television
since then.

*Marlins should keep it local
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says he’s still
hopeful of getting financing for a new stadium for the
Florida Marlins. Major League Baseball should give up
on the Florida Legislature as a potential source for
funding, though. The Marlins’ annual trek to
Tallahassee has come to resemble Charlie Brown’s
efforts to kick the football Lucy pulls away from him.
In a community of 6 million people (South Florida),
there have to be civic and business leaders with the
minds, hearts and wallets to pull a new stadium
project together.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10: McCain, water and movies

*McCain’s problem is Iraq stance
If any of the advisers who are now gone from Sen. John
McCain’s presidential campaign were the ones who
suggested he support President Bush’s strategy in
Iraq, then that departure is well founded. That stance
and a general deviation from the likable maverick
status McCain had in 2000 has dropped him in the
polls. Considering that the Bush folks have repeatedly
stabbed McCain in the back, I’ve found his support of
Bush puzzling. Other candidates (Mitt Romney in
particular) are proving it’s possible to appeal to the
party’s conservative wing with more grace (and a little bobbing and weaving).

*Turn it off!
A couple of local papers report that water
restrictions in South Florida could be eased with the
return of rain. No, no, a thousand times, no! At least
not right now. People need to learn how to do with
less. That car can stay dusty a little longer. Plants
that need less water and grow well in South Florida
are available. Turn off the water when you brush your
teeth or soap your hands or the dishes.

*Vote for your 100 favorite films
Want a chance to clean up the American Film
Institute’s recent mess? Daily Film Dose is asking for
the public’s top 100 movies:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Media Storms, Storm Center Storms, Baseball Storms and Jack Lord

(Note: Sorry I can't seem to post a title...)

*The new media and the mayor

Interesting column by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times about how the new media has driven the story of the affair of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:,1,3927783.column

He also mentions the issue of what Mirthala Salinas, the Telemundo anchor and reporter involved with the mayor, knew, and what Telemundo knew about this relationship, and when they knew it. That’s a relevant case study for all journalists.

Reporters and columnists have sometimes been friendly with sources. But how friendly and how much it affects coverage is always a concern. Good rule of thumb for journalists: When in doubt, beg out of the story. Make sure someone else covers it.

By the way, I wonder how Hillary Clinton feels about Villaraigosa’s endorsement now. Yikes!

*Make the Internet count

Given the Chicago Tribune’s article today about how people are catching television newscasts online and on Ipod, and given the fact that more people are catching movies on DVD instead of (or in addition to) theaters, it’s time to make the new media count alongside the old. Whoever calculates ratings, box office, etc. should count everything. Take it from a Floridian who knows the importance of counting everything, and the consequences when it’s not….

*Speaking of newscasts….

New York magazine has a story about Katie Couric (still “Katherine” to me after her 1980s Miami stint) and her second thoughts about accepting the CBS Evening News job. People just want to know what’s going on in the world; they don’t want any fancy stepping.

I still don’t know whether she can adjust, and audiences with her, or not….But expect to see her going the Barbara Walters route of newsmagazines and special interviews if she doesn’t make the adjustment within two years.

By the way, I never did comment on Dan Rather’sstatements a few weeks ago. No, he wasn’t being sexist. Yes, he was right about what’s been done to the newscast. And I don’t agree with CBS boss Les Moonves that national audiences aren’t ready for a woman. They’re ready for the right woman. I think Diane Sawyer would have been the right woman. And audiences have had no trouble with weekend and substitute anchors that have included some of the best, including former ABC anchor/reporter Carole Simpson.

By the way, this paragraph in Joe Hagan’s piece hits the nail perfectly:

“The reaction to Couric as anchor has less to do with the fact that she is a woman than it has to do with the type of woman she is—or at least the type she has played on TV. Despite a long list of accomplished interviews with world leaders and politicians, fromTony Blair to President Bush to Kofi Annan, Couric has a hard time shaking the perception that she’s light and girlish, as opposed to serious and mature.”


The article continues:

“She blames it on the later incarnation of the Today show.

'I think the show got increasingly soft during my tenure, during the end of it,' she says, referring to the version of the program run by former executive producer Tom Touchet, with whom she often clashed.'And that’s one of the reasons I wasn’t fulfilled journalistically in the job. Perhaps the most recent memory of me in the eyes of some people is of the softer, fun aspects of the Today show, which I totally enjoyed and I think I did well in, but it wasn’t the whole enchilada for me.'

The algorithm for why a news personality appeals or doesn’t turns out to be much more complicated than gender or reporting chops or whether someone came from morning television. After all, Charlie Gibson—the leader in the ratings—came from Good Morning America. Although, as Couric points out, 'he was more of anavuncular figure on that show. I was encouraged toshow a fun, playful side more.' And Diane Sawyer,Couric’s chief competitor for the mantle of most powerful and respected woman in television news, has done basically the same job as Couric for the last decade, yet no one questions Sawyer’s seriousness and credibility when she bags exclusive interviews or does hard news. Couric suspects that if Sawyer were doing an evening news broadcast, she might have run into the same issues. 'Perhaps.'

But as it stands, Sawyer has exceptionally high favorability ratings, topping a Gallup poll last year measuring viewer opinion on TV news people. Meanwhile, as Couric has shifted away from her flirty, funny, line-flubbing, relatable morning personality to a harder, edgier, and ultimately more humorless evening persona, her Q score—the gold standard of favorability ratings—has declined. (As of last year, she was on par with Dan Rather.) Maybe it’s just growing pains as she moves from one phase of her career to the next. But the worry is that her transformation into Anchor Katie might be obscuring what made many people like her to begin with.”

Here’s the link to the whole article:

*Watch your language, AP

I must question the Associated Press headline that says anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan “threatens” to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Threatens?” By whose standards?

If she’s an American citizen and has her civil rights, she has a right to run. Someone please tell the AP headline writer.

*1977 Yankees: At the library

If you watch (or even if you don’t) the ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning,” about the 1977 NewYork Yankees and based on a 2005 book, you can get even more by looking for a great book written the year after that season: “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” by then-Newsday Yankees beat writer Steve Jacobson. It’s in diary form and an excellent chronicle of that tumultuous season. Jacobson, incidentally, was a consultant for this film.

*Williamsburg Five-O?

The answer to last week's question about the longest-running movie ever: "Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot," shown in Colonial Williamsburg every day for the last 50 years. Hmmm....50.....Appropriate, then, that its star, playing fictional planter John Fry, is Jack Lord, who would later go on to play Steve McGarrett in the long-running CBS series "Hawaii Five-O." Lord, who died in 1998, seemed to have a thing for records: "Hawaii Five-O" is still the longest-running police drama in television history ("Law and Order" topped it as the longest running crime drama, but "Five-O" had mostly cops, rarely courtroom.).

Anyway, here's more from the Colonial Williamsburg site on the film:

And here's an article about the film....I love the title:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

OK, Top 50 and movie trivia question

Well, I'm cheating a bit....I'm posting a top 50, since the criteria are films I've seen, and I haven't seen 'em all......

1. Casablanca
2.The Wizard of Oz
3. Singin’ in the Rain
4. The Best Years of Our Lives
5. The Sound of Music
6. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
7. Gentleman’s Agreement
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
9. The Ten Commandments
10. Judgment at Nuremberg
11. Mrs. Miniver
12. Gone With the Wind
13. Adam’s Rib
14. Rear Window
15. The Big Sleep
16. All the President’s Men
17. The Maltese Falcon
18. Charade
19. The King and I
20. The African Queen
21. Miracle on 34th Street
22. Roman Holiday
23. Meet Me in St. Louis
24. Woman of the Year
25. North By Northwest
26. Father of the Bride (1950)
27. The Band Wagon
28. Anastasia
29. An American In Paris
30. State of the Union
31. To Have and Have Not
32. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
33. The Thin Man
34. It Happened One Night
35. Suspicion
36. In the Heat of the Night
37. Gaslight
38. 12 Angry Men
39. The Candidate
40. Mary Poppins
41. Easter Parade
42. Field of Dreams
43. Yankee Doodle Dandy
44. How the West Was Won
45. Lilies of the Field
46. Dances With Wolves
47. My Fair Lady
48. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
49. The Court Jester
50. The Great Escape

Can you tell I like old movies? And as you can see, there are quite a few the AFI poobahs forgot.....

Movie Trivia Quiz
In honor of our national holiday, name the longest-running movie in continuous play. Hint: Its star is part of another record, on television.

Happy 4th!!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

July 2: Commution, Cheney and communication

Commution commotion
Terrible, terrible decision by President Bush to commute Scooter Libby's prison sentence, but sadly, not surprising. It is sad and tragic for this country, indeed, the entire world, to see a president who is so blinded by his own view that he can't see the other side. It is a presidential trait to be stubborn, but to be blindly stubborn, as Bush is, is a major fault. In addition to the blind stubbornness is a moral vacuum that is the biggest at least since Richard Nixon was in the White House.
The Washington Post recently did a series about Dick Cheney's actions as vice president and his penchant for secrecy. A reader from Olney, Md. sent a post to Post columnist David Broder, saying, "We, as citizens, need to know this stuff far sooner than the eighth inning of the Bush ball game. As each administration comes to town, we need to learn-- as soon and as clearly as possible -- who is pulling the strings and how."
Broder basically responded that it was difficult to dig up. Come on, Mr. Broder. Almost as soon as Bush and Cheney had moved in, we knew they had a liking for secrecy, so the press, indeed, should have been more diligent. That's our job.

Economic integration?
In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling essentially cancelling out race as a major factor in determining school assignments, school districts are wondering how to make their populations more diverse. One possible way is economic integration. There is no question that schools in certain parts of town have a tendency to have more resources than other schools. I saw evidence of this years ago, when I took a tour of a school district and saw the shiny, new school on the west side versus the run-down facilities on the east side.
Kids have a right to the best, anywhere. And oh, yes, minorities and immigrants still get the short end of the stick with regard to school assignments and resources. With one brand of equality comes another.

Note about movie list
I know I owe my picks for 100 movies. That will come tomorrow, I hope, along with a movie trivia quiz. Sorry for the delay.