Friday, July 31, 2009

Cronkite wanted to defer to newspapers

Among various anecdotes about the late CBS-TV anchor Walter Cronkite, who died in July at the age of 92, were stories about his lifelong appreciation of newspapers.

On CNN, Tom Watkins reported that Cronkite did not end his first broadcast at the CBS Evening News with what would become his signature goodbye -- "... that's the way it is."

"The first night up, he ended the show by saying -- I'm paraphrasing -- 'That's the news. Be sure to check your local newspapers tomorrow to get all the details on the headlines we are delivering to you'," according to Sanford "Sandy" Socolow, a CBS colleague who spoke to CNN.

But the comment angered CBS brass, who prohibited the remark in the future, reports Editor and Publisher magazine.

Another Cronkite nod to the detail and resources newspapers bring to communications was a widely distributed essay he wrote for Ogilvy & Mather's 1983 advertising campaign for International Paper: "How to read a Newspaper."

Check out this pdf copy from Newspapers In Education --

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TV's disappointing digital

It's been a month now since the digital conversion of all U.S. television stations, so it's awfully early to be crying, cautiously optimistic or critical of the consequences. However, many stations went digital long enough back that their efforts are creating some consternation after the hype that preceded what some see as a government giveaway of chunks of the broadcast spectrum to appease commercial interests with little regard for the public interest.

Business Week magazine senior writer Tom Lowry did a good roundup piece about the overall disappointing results from local stations' digital spinoffs.

"Most of the country's 1,700 TV stations have created them," he writes. "But only the 10% of U.S. households that receive digital TV over the air can watch the new programming because the cable, phone and satellite companies so far are usually disinclined to carry it."

That ties to disappointing ad sales linked to the new programming, he says.

"Local TV advertising fell 28% in the first quarter from the same period in 2008," Lowry writes. "[So] local broadcasters seem prepared to do an end run around the cable and phone companies. They are pinning their hopes on the next generation of cell phones, which will be able to receive digital TV signals."

(It must have been discomfiting for Lowry to see this published around the same time that Business Week owner McGraw-Hill announced it was losing money on the excellent periodical and would consider a buyer.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

WIU alum covering high-profile murder in Florida

Kris Wernowsky, WIU J grad (2003?), is doing a bang-up job covering the Billings murders in Florida's panhandle.

In fact, he handled CNN host Don Lemon's shallow inquiries effectively Saturday night.

Check it out --

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ex-Clear Channel morning host still connects with people

Connecting with people was generally more important than specific skill sets when Michelle Maloney was coping with getting laid off from hosting a morning radio talk show in Cleveland by media giant Clear Channel, according to a short news feature broadcast on WCPN-FM 90.3 in Cleveland.

The story by the National Public Radio affiliate touches on the experience of three people from TV, a magazine and a daily newspaper -- all now pursuing other opportunities made possible by their talents.

Here's a portion of a transcript dealing with Maloney --

MALONEY: You can’t be worrying about, “Ohmygod, ohmygod, am I going to get fired?" Because that’s no way to live. And then, of course, it happens to you, and you’re blown out of the water. It was hard.

Maloney sent out hundreds of resumes --- to radio stations, ad agencies, public relations firms. Nothing seemed to be working. But, [a Cleveland] Plain Dealer story about her prompted a response that came out of left field. The manager of a local car dealership sent an e-mail, offering her a sales position.

MALONEY: I e-mailed him back and said, “That’s really sweet of you. I appreciate it, but I know nothing about selling cars.” And he said, “That’s okay, you don’t have to, we’ll teach you that. The big thing is connecting with people. And you’ve been doing that for 18 years, in radio”

SOUND : (PA system at Lexus dealership “Bob, pick-up line 7 please.")

The waiting room of the Classic Lexus store in Willoughby Hills looks like the lobby of a posh hotel, with comfortable couches and a big plasma screen playing the afternoon soaps. To the right and left, new model cars glisten in the showroom. This is Michelle Maloney’s new workplace.

MALONEY: My first month I sold five cars, (laughs) which they say, in this economy, isn’t bad.

She says she misses radio, but finds it hard to listen to her old station any more. It’s just not the same. Right now, she’s cautiously optimistic about her new circumstances.

MALONEY: Somebody said, “What are you driving?” And I said, a pick-up truck. And I’m going to drive it into the ground. I make my last payment in August. So…that will be nice to have a little relief for awhile.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ex-J Day speaker wins national award

A Springfield editorial cartoonist who spoke at WIU's Spring 2005 Journalism Day has won the 2008 Sigma Delta Chi national award for editorial cartooning, SPJ announced this week.

Chris Britt, who works out of the State Journal-Register and syndicates his work through GateHouse Media, was described as "fearless" by judges.

"Britt invariably presents points of view that are simultaneously contrarian and obvious," judges said.

Britt commented, "I love my job."

Here's a link to a pdf file of Quill magazine's page 41, showcasaing Britt and his work --

Economy affecting TV as well as print: CNN/NBC vet

Journalists who assume they'll escape anxiety by concentrating on broadcasting instead of newspaper are missing the big picture, according to former CNN and NBC News video editor and camera operator David P. Burns.

The recession and expansion of consumer choices for media is affecting journalists and news companies across the board, Burns writes in the new Quill magazine.

"Studio production crews are getting smaller, forcing technicians to compete for a handful of jobs in a single market," Burns writes in a piece about moving from newsrooms to classrooms.

Susan Kirkwood, a special-projects producer for Baltimore's WMAR-TV until she was laid off, has started teaching part-time at Towson University, where students don't realize the reality of 21st century broadcast journalism.

"They always seem surprised to learn it's not glamorous," she said. "I told them about working overnights, and they couldn't believe that schedule existed."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chicago news legend dies; leaves 'lessons'

Longtime Chicago journalist John Callaway died last week after suffering a heart attack in Racine, Wisc. He was 72.

Besides leaving behind thousands of viewers, listeners and readers and his wife Sandra, the host of WTTW-TV 11's news program Chicago Tonight, originator of WBBM-AM 780 and CBS Radio's all-news format, and former City News Bureau reporter also leaves a legacy embodied in his dedication to journalism, common sense and decency.

NPR's Scott Simon tweeted about Callaway's advice to journalists.
"What I learned from John Callaway about journalism --and life," Simon recalled:
Be persistent.
Be kind.
Be fair.
Be interesting.
Try to do something different.
Call people back.
Give people a break.
Assume nothing.
Remember people's names.
Write thank you notes.
Tip the bartender.
Try to do something every few weeks that scares you at least a little.
Go to the bathroom just before you go on.
Most of all: Remember that it's a blessing to be a Chicagoan, and a privilege to come into people's homes with the news."

The Chicago Tribune 15 years ago wrote, "It has been said that John Callaway, who has won more than 60 awards -- including seven Chicago Emmys -- is the best interviewer on television. He can be tough, like when he told Sen. Paul Simon he hadn't mastered his own campaign material. He can be sensitive, like when he delicately asked director Gordon Parks about the death of his son. He can elicit quotable sound bites. Mike Ditka, when he was Bears coach: 'My motives are right, even if my methods stink.' Rich Daley, when he was state's attorney: 'I could subpoena you overnight if you became my enemy.' He made the Frugal Gourmet cry. When Johnny Carson asked William Buckley who was the best interviewer, Buckley answered, 'That chubby fellow in Chicago.' "