Archive for the Breaking News Category

Driving Audience to Traditional Media

Posted in Breaking News, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production, RTNDA on September 24, 2010 by James Rowe

The cinders outside of Boulder, CO, scene of recent wildfires, have burned out, but lessons to learn remain.  The editor of “Lost Remote,” Steve Safran writes stations and newspapers in Boulder did a good job of covering the fires but their best coverage was not on their websites.

The website editor made a substantial point during breaking coverage of the Colorado fires.  A point many news executives may have missed regarding how to exploit the huge increase this year in the use of social media.  Safran wrote about the wildfires:

“…the real news is on the station’s Facebook and Twitter pages, where moment by moment updates are flying.”

As a reporter, I spent decades in the field covering breaking news; natural disasters and all.  Traditional media has tremendous experience covering developing events.  Social media and user generated content are changing newsroom practices though.

Mainstream media has to break the circle of wagons and use the power of new media to deliver news and drive viewers, readers and listeners to traditional media for long form reporting.  New thinking has to begin in editorial meetings and travel to the assignment desk and into the production process.

Just as news executives plan teases, bumps, graphics, etcetera; they need to plan new media status updates for Facebook, Twitter, and their websites.  Here’s a suggestion from Safran, who wrote for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association blog.

“…whenever there’s a big event in your  community, snap up the Twitter name.  The media outlets should have snapped up and used it as a dedicated feed.  Instead, they put the information on their standard feed.”

He argues the name of the event draws a larger audience.  A station’s website can use a widget to aggregate the stream of topic related tweets.  You can use lists and hashtags as well to gather user generated information readers and viewers will understand is unsubstantiated.  With the station’s branded Twitter account direct the audience to your website, where they’ll collect all sorts of information from users and reporters and learn about your station’s coverage.  “If it’s good enough for social media,’ Safran says, ‘it’s good enough for regular news.”  I second his advice on branding and placing user generated content in context.  Recent studies affirm traditional media is still the most trusted source of information.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC


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New Tools Old Practices

Posted in Breaking News, Internet, Journalism, new media, News Production on September 7, 2010 by James Rowe

In newsroom management, years ago, I stepped up to the task of teaching the entire news staff how to use personal computers; newly introduced as their desktop workstations. One of the memories of the period was brought to my attention over ten years later when an anchor commented among his cherished possessions was the certificate I awarded him for completing a course in newsroom computing.

He was the journalist who stood up in class in anger and exclaimed “I’m 50-years old, why do I have to learn this now?” I asked him to relax and take break and return when he was prepared to resume. He did and he learned. He made me proud these years since because he confirmed my strategy to educate the staff and reward them for growing.

Using new tools is a matter of survival for journalists. I notice radio reporters learn to edit video, television news people edit and print journalists use audio for more than notes. Broadcast Newsroom Computing writes often about the blurring of skills among old divisions of discipline in news production. It is a subject of continuing growth.

The changes are evidenced in the verbose techcrunch report on Adam Penenberg’s new journalism. The New York University professor returned to daily reporting briefly to break a story traditional media overlooked. Fourteen paragraphs deep into the techcrunch post blogger Paul Carr tells how Penenberg used Twitter to bring to public attention a story other media, new and traditional, missed. The professor forced everyone into “scoop recovery” mode.

Carr writes Penenberg may have developed a breaking news procedure for new journalism in the style he tweeted about Ford Motor Company’s $131- (m) million dollar settlement with the family of Brian Cole. Cole was a New York Mets’ prospect killed in the rollover accident of his Ford Explorer.

Penenberg used old wire service procedure for breaking news. He released short blurbs of information; each adding another layer to the story. The educator’s method was the same way wire services released confirmed information until a write thru of facts could be delivered. The practice allowed broadcasters, in particular, to get word out immediately and build suspense in anticipation of a full report.

The urgent bell rings on wire machines are long gone, replaced by beeps and now, beyond wire services, audible Twitter alerts on workstations to announce breaking news from alert journalists.


James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

The Media Rarely Tell Their Story – Mark Sudock Does

Posted in Breaking News, Jobs, Journalism, television on September 9, 2009 by James Rowe

Sudock, a senior editor at KTTV TV in Los Angeles, CA. emailed his open letter to the owner of News Corporation to new media.   Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch has a letter explaining his company holds $6.5 (b) billion dollars in cash.

Sudock’s email to the LA Observed offered this explanation – "By sharing my remarks in ‘open letter’ form as well, my hope is to increase the potential for reaching Mr. Murdoch and, ultimately, to save jobs."

Here’s Sudock’s letter as he wrote it.

Mr. Murdoch, I am one of many proud members of the KTTV news team. As one who has been aboard since Fox acquired KTTV Los Angeles from MetroMedia, I have been gratified to participate in the growth of this news organization.

As you know, sir, KTTV has been an impressive flagship station in the Fox Station Group. Year after year, we stay number one with both network and local product. Mornings, we deliver a full five and a half hours of live television. We do it with style and we do it with class. We then catch our breath and from the mid-day through the late night hours, we competently deliver another three and a half hours of original programming over the air and on the web.

Today our product and our staff is the gold standard. We who work for you hear this constantly. The envy is palpable.

Now, Mr. Murdoch, I am appealing to you personally, as approximately one-hundred and seventeen dedicated workers face layoffs beginning on September 10th.

We all get it, sir. Times are tight. Ad revenues are down and business is business. As this reality trickles-down to the local station level, the impact is severe.

Sir, I edit documentaries and investigative news pieces at KTTV. I’m one of a facility full of specialists (maintenance people, videographers, writers, air talent and so many more) who have honed their skills over a lifetime. We cover train wrecks, wildfires, earthquakes and the like with skill and panache. We serve the city competently… and the city responds by trusting that we’ll be there when there is need. Chances are very real that our reputation and our legacy is at risk.

The best of the best are being furloughed. Those who survive will no longer be practicing their craft. Those who survive will be working outside their skill set; immersed in on-the-job training crash courses; attempting to keep the product as clean and presentable as they can.

The cuts are so severe that virtually no one remains on-site to technically maintain the facility. The cuts are so deep that our ability to cover the news as we did this past week (with pursuits, brush fires and the Michael Jackson funeral happening simultaneously) is in absolute jeopardy.

Sir, if we believe the rumors, this station or the station group needs to save ten million dollars. These layoffs appear to be the solution. Please, Mr. Murdoch, see a bigger picture.

In these harsh times for the country, your loyal and talented employees, many with decades of dedicated service, are being thrust into a market place where few if any jobs exist. Homes are being lost, surgeries postponed and the most basic needs of thriving “Fox” families are threatened. On behalf of my co-workers, I am pleading for the kind of intervention that can only come from you.

Mr. Murdoch, we are told that the economic downturn is cyclical and temporary. Yet, long after this storm passes, these fast-approaching layoffs will continue to impact employee lives.

Is their no alternative by which your dedicated workforce can be empowered to weather this economic slowdown? Might I even be bold enough to ask if it is not possible for those in the executive wing to support their co-workers by passing on their corporate bonuses, if for only one year? Could that compensate for the shortfall? There must be someway to balance the books without severely impacting the security of the very people who make Fox Television great.

With respect, sir, this is where the rubber hits the road. If necessary, those in control of this successful corporation must burn the midnight oil. Please, please do everything possible to keep what the media has accurately described as the Fox11 bloodbath from being realized.

Mr. Murdoch, please intervene.

Most respectfully,

Mark Sudock
Senior Editor-Features
KTTV Fox11 News

That’s got to be the longest quote ever.

As promised the next post will have some  big product buzz from IBC, which gets underway this week.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

Breaking News – Another Vendor Pulls Out of NAB

Posted in Breaking News, Economy, Events, Management, NAB on February 11, 2009 by James Rowe

FilmLight is skipping the big Las Vegas event in April.  "With many of our customers having already indicated that they may not be attending NAB, we have decided to concentrate on taking our technology directly to them. Recent key orders in the US, Asia, Middle East, and Europe validate this decision to be the right one for this year," said Mike Grieve, FilmLight’s sales director.  The “Broadcast Now” article reports Apple, Quantel, and Red Digital Cinema have removed the world’s largest convention of broadcasters from their 2009 budgets.

I find it ironic NAB is also planning an early event at Pebble Beach, California called the NAB Futures Summit.  For three days, March 22-24, the National Association of Broadcasters and a number of supporting vendors are asking television executives to come to Southern California to discuss and learn how to position themselves for success in this economy.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company

Breaking News – Local TV Ad Revenue Drops Significantly

Posted in Breaking News, Management, Revenue, television on February 10, 2009 by James Rowe

I am posting a “Breaking News” headline, what a shock to me.  However when I received notice of the free article on Wall Street Journal Online on the future of local TV stations I had to pass it on.

The interactive storytelling of course fascinated me and the graphic on the recent business history of local television is interesting.

Check it out and get a good idea of the landscape for forecasting your business this year.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company