Media Briefing for Monday, November 20, 2006

November 20th, 2006

Thirteen/WNET New York earned great praise for the series Nature, which it produces, and which celebrates its 25th anniversary this season. Both the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Mississippi and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pass along these accolades in a column from the Biloxi paper which was also printed in the Post-Gazette.

Keeping Score, the PBS show which engages viewers in classical music, continues to win praise across the nation. Two South Florida papers are the latest – the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale and the Miami Herald.

?Rain In A Dry Land? is a documentary focusing on a family that moved from Kenya to Georgia in the U.S. South. The Atlanta Constitution reports on the cultural shock for the family, including American society’s norms on child rearing. This documentary will be featured on PBS’s Point Of View next year.>

Copyright limitations were what kept the acclaimed Eyes On The Prize series off the air from the mid 1990s until this fall. The Washington Post reports.>

Can the quality of the New York Times be maintained as the Times goes on-line. This means reporters are expected to file stories immediately, and update them. This is very different from the old days of simply having one dateline to worry about, before the paper went ‘to bed.” The New York Times explains that reporters may have less time to perfect stories, and will have the distraction of having to file them quickly and then update them.

Are ad buyers focusing simply on declining circulations in making ad decisions for newspapers? Media Life Magazine says many buyers are recognizing that newspapers are rich with content and are the originators of the vast majority of news stories. Meanwhile, as Wall Street sours on newspaper stocks, big chains are planning to sell them to local owners. The Boston Globe reports that while the pressure of meeting quarterly Wall Street demands will be off, local owners might be more tempted to violate editorial independence. The Globe discusses ‘the return of the press barons.” Department stores once dominated cities in America, and have virtually disappeared. The Baltimore Sun asks whether newspapers will share the same fate. And Yahoo has formed a partnership with 176 newspapers to cooperate on classified ads, general advertising, content, and technology. The New York Times says the newspaper industry is increasingly willing to shake hands with technology companies it once saw as a threat.>

Baby boomers have been used to being in the center of the spotlight in American culture. Now, as they age, TV is focusing on younger demographics. Associated Press reports baby boomers think most network TV shows do not relate to them, and they are unhappy.>

Unlike Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation/Fox and Sumner Redstone of Viacom/CBS, NBC’s Bob Wright is simply an employee, and he will have to retire in the next few years. Plans for changes are already underway, reports the New York Times.

Charles Gibson has been at the helm of ABC World News Tonight for 6 months now. The Houston Chronicle asks in its interview of Gibson, whether his time as evening news anchor will be limited.>

Movies often featured people smoking cigarettes, with swirling smoke on screen. Now, in a new twist, Philip Morris is asking that its brands not be included in motion pictures. Associated Press reports it is doing so in full page ads in trade publications such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.>

The Boston Globe has a major expose on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. This online resource has multiple researchers and authors, according to the Globe. Meanwhile, China is limiting access to Wikipedia. The Boston Globe also reports on the Chinese censorship.>

A new television service opens soon. Channel Vision will cover everything about France. The Globe and Mail of Toronto reports Channel Vision will be available starting December 6 on some cable systems in major cities in the U.S. and the U.K. and also on streaming video online.>

With satellite and online radio offering a wide assortment of formats, another service known as High Definition or HD radio has been introduced. Local FM stations are offering as many as 5 additional channels of music. The Boston Globe reports special new radio receivers are needed to hear these broadcasts, and sales are gaining momentum.> Meanwhile, radio listeners who live in areas with weak signals and fuzzy reception, have a new alternative. The Seattle Times reports computer DSL can bring in quality reception of these radio signals.>

Earlier this year the Miami Herald reported on 10 journalists for various newspapers and news organizations who were being paid to appear on TV Marti, the U.S. government run station aimed at Cuba with anti-Castro news and information. Now, The Miami Herald examines its own coverage of that story and the repercussions, and says there were several flaws.>Separately, an executive with TV Marti has been indicted. The Miami Herald reports.> The New York Times takes a close look at last week’s Illinois jury decision to find a newspaper guilty of defamation against a judge. The Times examines the impact this will have on news reporting and a possible chilling effect.>

Email messages convey only 7% of their meaning. Surprisingly, words only capture a sliver of meaning, while voice tone and body language convey the majority of meaning. Tribune Media Services explains. Meanwhile, computer companies are finding the large number of icons on screens is confusing some people, especially those new to the internet. The Seattle Times says the computer companies will cut down on desktop clutter. Meanwhile there are two reports on how big computer companies are coping with the ever-changing landscape. The Seattle Times reports on how Microsoft is dealing with declining stock prices. And the sunny and gloomy signs at the web crossroads of Yahoo are examined. The New York Times has this report.

As in many states, a large amount of money was spent in Colorado on independent TV attack ads. Some $17 million was spent in Colorado alone. The Rocky Mountain News reports. Attempts to place limits on attack ads have proved elusive, the Rocky Mountain News says. The Rocky Mountain News gives some vivid examples from this past election cycle.> In Virginia, a veterans group targeted incumbent Republican U.S. Senator George Allen. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the ads targeted Allen for not supporting body armor for the troops in Iraq. Meanwhile a new University of Wisconsin study shows the attack ads themselves got more coverage on TV news, than the actual issues. Broadcasting & Cable has the story.

Denver, Colorado conservative columnist Dave Kopel says the media crossed the line in outing evangelical leader Ted Haggart as gay, just before the election. Kopel even criticizes his own newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News. Gay groups defend outing if it involves a gay person being destructive toward gays, and note that Haggart compared gay rights parades to a parade for murderers.

Satirical humor on television aimed at the Vatican has struck a nerve. The New York Times examines this major on-going controversy in Italy.

The U.K. is banning TV ads aimed at children for foods high in sugar, salt and fat. Broadcasting & Cable reports.> In the U.S., plans announced last week by some major food companies to self-regulate their advertising aimed at children have been labeled as junk. Media Daily News says the Center For Science In The Public Interest says the companies? plan is ?pathetic.”

The cable networks are picking up the slack from the commercial broadcast networks in airing documentaries, according to USA Today. Meanwhile MSBC is reported to be finding its voice. Washington Post TV columnist Howard Kurtz says MSNBC’s voice is political.

Telephone companies in Europe and Asia are now offering what is known as IPTV, Intenet Protocol Television. AP reports IPTV is sent over telephone lines by phone companies.

A Towson, Maryland student operates a major blog about television industry news. The New York Times reports the blog, TV Newser, is widely read by industry executives, producers and publicists.

Sometimes flying birds slam into broadcast and communications towers. The Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on whether it should implement rules on this problem.> With the FCC and the Congress enacting rules imposing huge $325,000 fines on broadcast stations for indecency and sexual language, one listener wants to know why some words are allowed, and others, which are widely used by youngsters, are not. In a letter to the editor of The Los Angeles Times the listener says he is puzzled.

Boston’s 50,000-watt radio station WRKO 680 has fired its entire news department. The Boston Herald reports the station did so to make way for a new talk format.