GOOD NEWS & LOCAL JOURNALISM

Award-winning New York anchor Ernie Anastos is here with his insights on a more balanced and less negative media.

To check out some of Ernie Anastos’ “Positively Ernie” segments, click here. 

Aired on March 4, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WATCHING THE NEWS CAN AT TIMES BE NEGATIVE AND EVEN OVERWHELMING, THE OFT HEARD IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS PERMEATES MANY A NEWSROOM WHICH IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO HIGHLIGHT THE GOOD IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND SHARE THOSE STORIES ALONG WITH WHAT ARE GOING TO BE THE NEGATIVE.

EMMY AWARD RES DECENT ERNIE ANASTOS IS DOING JUST THAT, ERNIE HAS COVERED MAJOR STORIES OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES INCLUDING INTERVIEWING WORLD LEADERS, PRESIDENTS, BUT HE ALSO COVERS US, AVERAGE NEW YORKERS, WITH THE SAME ENTHUSIASM AND CURIOSITY.

ERNIE'S MAN ON THE STREET STYLE INTERVIEW ON FOX 5 NEW YORK CALLED POSITIVELY ERNIE SPOTLIGHTS OUR OPINIONS ON A RANGE OF TOPICS BOTH LIGHTHEARTED AND HEAVY AND HE IS HERE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD NEWS AND LOCAL JOURNALISM.

MY GOOD FRIEND, LOCAL NEWS LEGEND ERNIE ANASTOS.

I GOT STARTED --

JACK, WE GO BACK.

YOU AND I GO BACK A LONG TIME.

NO QUESTION.

COMING ON FOR -- STARTING TELEVISION IN THE BEGINNING AND I HAD THE GREAT GOOD FORTUNE OF BEING ABLE TO SIT ACROSS FROM YOU AND YOU INTERVIEW ME.

AND HERE WE ARE REVERSING THE ROLES SHOO WHEN I SAW THIS I SAID I AM TO THRILLED THAT ERNIE IS COMING TO CHAT WITH US.

IT'S SO GREAT TO SEE YOU AND I LOVE YOUR PROGRAM.

THIS DOES SUCH A GREAT SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK CITY.

ABSOLUTELY.

IT'S A WONDERFUL GROUP OF PEOPLE PUTTING THIS TOGETHER.

QUALITY.

WE LIKE TO THINK SO.

COMING FROM YOU, THAT IS QUITE A COMPLIMENT.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

LET ME START OFF WITH A BIGGER PICTURE.

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.

WHENEVER WE SEE POLLS WE SEE, INTERESTINGLY, THAT THE PUBLIC IS LOSING TRUST IN NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA, BUT THEY STILL TRUST LOCAL NEWS MEDIA.

YES.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

THAT'S TRUE.

I THINK THERE'S A CLEAR ANSWER TO THAT.

I THINK WHEN YOU WATCH LOCAL NEWS YOU'RE WATCHING REPORTING, WE'RE COVERING STORIES THAT ARE HAPPENING IN THE COMMUNITY.

WE'RE NOT GIVING OPINION.

YOU DON'T SEE THAT.

I MEAN, IT'S JUST STRAIGHTFORWARD REPORTING.

KIND OF THE LAST BASTION AROUND.

AND I'M VERY PROUD OF THAT IN MANY WAYS.

WHEN YOU TALK TO PEOPLE WHEREVER THEY ARE IN ANY CITY IN THIS COUNTRY, RIGHT, IF THEY'RE CHOOSING THEIR SERVICE ON CABLE OR SATELLITE, WHATEVER, THEY'RE ALWAYS GOING TO CHOOSE THE LOCAL CHANNELS.

PEOPLE WATCH PART OF WHAT'S GOING ON IN OUR COMMUNITY --

PEOPLE CALL YOU BY YOUR FIRST NAME.

FIRST NAME, ABSOLUTELY.

ERNIE.

YEAH.

THEY DON'T SAY ERNIE ANASTOS.

IF THEY SEE YOU, YOU'RE PART OF THE FAMILY.

AND I'M HUMBLED BY THAT.

I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

THAT'S BUILDING A CERTAIN TRUST THAT YOU HAVE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT YOU'RE PART OF THE CITY.

WHEN I FIRST STARTED DOING TELEVISION NEWS BACK WITH YOU AND YOU AND I WOULD SIT AND YOU WOULD INTERVIEW ME ABOUT A SUPREME COURT DECISION OR A CASE THAT'S TAKING PLACE.

YES.

YOU WOULD NEVER ASK ME FOR MY OPINION.

AND I WOULDN'T GIVE IT.

BECAUSE THE NOTION WAS WE ARE SHARING IDEAS PROVIDING AN UNDERSTANDING FOR PEOPLE, BUT NOT TELLING THEM WHAT THEY SHOULD THINK.

AND IT SEEMS THAT LOCAL NEWS, AGAIN, NOT COMPLETELY, AN OPINION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT PART OF JOURNALISM.

IT IS.

WHY HE.

UNDERSTAND THAT.

YES, IN ITS PROPER PLACE.

I THINK THAT WE BOTH DEFEND THE RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH AND UNCENSORED PRESS, BUT I THINK THAT WE HAVE A REAL RESPONSIBILITY.

YOU KNOW, WHEN WE HAVE SO MANY CHANNELS NOW, WHEN WE WERE -- YOU KNOW, OUT THERE, THERE WERE ONLY BASICALLY THREE OR FOUR CHANNELS OR THREE NETWORKS AND NOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A PLETHORA.

YOU HAVE ALL THE CABLE, SATELLITE AND ALL SOCIAL MEDIA AND SO FORTH, BUT THERE IS A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY THAT GOES WITH THAT BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL.

YOU CAN'T PUT RUMOR ON THE AIR, YOU CAN'T PUT, YOU KNOW, INFORMATION THAT'S BEEN NOT CONFIRMED.

WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THE OPINION AND THE VIEWER HAS TO KNOW THAT IF THERE IS AN OPINION, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DARN GOOD AT IT, BUT IF IT IS AN OPINION IT HAS TO BE SORT OF LABELED THAT WAY AND HAS TO BE CLEAR.

LET ME ASK ABOUT YOUR SEGMENTS, POSITIVELY ERNIE SEGMENTS.

YES.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING THAT THOSE SEGMENTS WILL PROVIDE FOR THE VIEWERS?

I'VE BEEN VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE COVERAGE OF NEWS.

I'VE BEEN ON THE AIR SO MANY YEARS AND EVERY NIGHT WHEN YOU GO ON THE AIR AND YOU SAY GOOD EVENING AND THEN YOU PROCEED TO TELL THEM WHY IT'S NOT.

AND I SAID, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, IF WE'RE GOING TO PUT A NEWSCAST TOGETHER AND THEY WERE VERY KIND TO ME AT CHANNEL 5, WE SAT DOWN, TALKED ABOUT OUR 6:00 NEWS AND I SAID, LOOK, IF WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT A PROBLEM, LET'S TALK ABOUT A SOLUTION.

LET'S FIND WAYS THAT WE CAN FIX THE ISSUE.

WALTER CRONKITE WAS A DEAR FRIEND AND A MENTOR IN MANY WAYS AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT NEWS COVERAGE AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, OUR JOB IS TO BE A DOG.

OKAY?

A WATCHDOG.

WE ARE NOT A LAP DOG OR AN ATTACK DOG, WE ARE A WATCHDOG.

WE BARK AND WE LET PEOPLE HEAR WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AND WHAT THE ISSUES ARE AND LET THEM RESPOND.

SO I FELT THAT, YOU KNOW, POSITIVE NEWS WAS VERY IMPORTANT, PARTICULARLY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, BUT I THINK THAT IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO DO THAT AND THE KIDS REALLY WERE A BIG PART OF HELPING ME TO DO THAT.

AND THEN I WROTE A BOOK.

LET ME ASK ABOUT THAT.

I WANT TO COME BACK TO YOUR CONVERSATION BUT TELL ME ABOUT 'ERNIE AND THE BIG NEWS.'

BILL GALLO, THE GREAT COLUMNIST AND ILLUSTRATOR AT THE DAILY NEWS, GOD REST HIS SOUL, DID HE ALL THE ILLUSTRATIONS FOR ME.

AND IT'S A BOOK ABOUT THE ADVENTURES OF A TV REPORTER AND IT PRETTY MUCH FOCUSES ON GOOD STORIES AND HAPPY ENDINGS.

I GO OUT AND WE WORKED WITH A CHARITY, ST. FRANCIS FOOD PANTRIES IN NEW YORK, WE DOUGH MADE ABOUT 500 BOOKS EACH TIME WE GO OUT TO EVERY CHILD AND I GIVE THEM A CARD AND I'M GOING TO GIVE IT TO YOU, TOO, IT'S AN OFFICIAL PRESS CARD, IT'S CALLED ERNIE AND THE BIG NEWS OFFICIAL PRESS CARD, I MADE IT OUT TO YOU, JACK.

THAT MAKES ME OFFICIAL.

YEAH.

THAT DOES.

BUT THE LINE ON THE BOTTOM ABOUT THE REPORTER, IT'S AUTHORIZED TO COVER STORIES WITH ACCURACY, TRUTH AND FAIRNESS.

AND I THINK THAT THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.

I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE THIS TO EVERYBODY IN OUR BUSINESS.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE SENSE IS THAT THE NEWS, CERTAINLY NATIONAL BUT EVEN LOCAL, CHANGED AND MOVED AWAY FROM THE IDEA OF WOOEFB POSITIVE STORIES INTO THE NEWSCAST?

I KNOW PEOPLE HAVE SAID THEY'RE SO DRIVEN BY RATINGS.

THAT'S THE MAGIC WORD.

AND PEOPLE -- YOU WILL GET MORE EYEBALLS OR MORE CLICKS IF YOU'RE TELLING A STORY THAT'S A TRAGEDY THAN AN UPLIFTING ONE.

DO YOU THINK THAT'S TRUE?

JACK, I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.

YOU MENTIONED THE WORD RATINGS, OKAY?

NOW, THERE WAS A TIME WHEN NEWSCASTS WERE NOT RATED, WHEN THE FCC FIRST STARTED, I MEAN, WE HAD TO PROMISE THE COMMUNITY OF WHAT WE WERE GOING TO DELIVER, A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF NEWS, INFORMATION, WEATHER AND SO FORTH.

AND THEN YOU HAD TO PROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE AT THE END OF YOUR PERIOD TO SHOW THAT YOU WERE SERVING THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY.

AND THAT WAS DRIVEN BY THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY.

NO QUESTION ABOUT IT AND RATINGS WERE NOT A FACTOR.

SO WE WERE MORE OF A PUBLIC SERVICE.

OKAY?

WE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT JUST MAKING SURE THAT WE WERE INFORMING PEOPLE, THAT WE WERE DOING OUR JOB.

RATINGS DID HAVE A MAJOR FACTOR, OKAY?

THEY DID BECOME A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF WHAT WE DO AND AS A RESULT PEOPLE STARTED LOOKING FOR HOW CAN WE GET MORE VIEWERS, HOW CAN WE DO MORE?

I THINK THAT WE'RE VERY FAMILIAR WITH HOW WE TEASE A STORY, HOW WE WANT TO BRING IN THE VIEWERS AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE GOING TO STAY WITH THIS BROADCAST.

I THINK THAT'S AN AREA WHERE WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL.

THE COMPETITION IS SO MEAN OUT THERE, THERE'S SO MUCH OF IT, THAT I THINK MANY ORGANIZATIONS LOOK TO FIND WAYS TO BRING IN THE AUDIENCE AND AS A RESULT YOU BLUR THE LINE.

YOU BLUR THE LINE.

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL.

ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT FOR ALL OF THOSE FACTORS, THE EXPLOSION OF MEDIA OUTLETS OUT THERE, THE COMPETITION, FOR VIEWERS, FOR CLICKS, FOR INTEREST, ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT WE MIGHT BE SEEING LESS OF INVOLVEMENT OF POSITIVE STORIES BECAUSE OF ALL OF THOSE FACTORS THAT YOU MENTIONED?

I'M HOPING THAT IT MIGHT GO THE OTHER WAY.

I TALK TO A LOT OF PEOPLE AS YOU DO, I'M ON THE STREET AND INTERVIEWING PEOPLE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS AND THEY ALWAYS ASK ME ABOUT HOW COME THERE'S SO MUCH NEGATIVE NEWS ON THE AIR AND I LIKE THE FACT YOU'RE PUTTING SOME POSITIVE SORES.

I'M HOPING THAT MAYBE THERE WILL COME A POINT WHERE PEOPLE WILL SAY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, WE NOTE THAT THE HUT LEVEL, HOMES USING TELEVISION DROPS, PARTICULARLY LATE AT NIGHT.

PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THE PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD, THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BETTER.

PEOPLE WATCH OR DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEM FEEL BETTER, ESPECIALLY WHEN GOING TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.

I'M HOPING THAT MAYBE WE WILL STRIKE THE BALANCE, LET'S GIVE THEM THE NEWS, PUT IT IN THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE BUT ALSO GIVE THEM OTHER POSITIVE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT SO WE CAN FEEL THAT THERE IS SOME -- THERE'S A KEYBOARD, HOPE.

HOPE.

IF WE LOSE HOPE WE'VE LOST EVERYTHING.

I WILL SAY ONE LAST THING.

MAYA ANGELOU, SHE WAS WONDERFUL IN TERMS OF WHAT WE DO.

PIMA I NOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID OR WHAT YOU DID BUT THEY WILL REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

SO THIS IS A DELIGHT TO TALK WITH YOU.

YOU BE WELL.

SHACK I MY HAND.

THANK YOU, JACK.

MY PLEASURE.

TO CHECK OUT SOME OF OOERN'S POSITIVELY ERNIE STORIES VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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