Radio & Television News Association

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Candid words from NBC 4's boss at RTNA's State of the News Industry Event

At a Radio and Television News Association panel of news directors last night at UCLA, Bob Long of NBC 4 got most of the laughs — and sounded the most pessimistic about the future of traditional news programs such as his. The Internet has cut deeply into the audience for traditional TV news, he said, adding that stations need to embrace bloggers and news aggregators as partners who can deliver large numbers of eyeballs.

He also argued that celebrity tabloid fare appeals to a relatively small audience, and that higher quality news shows in every market in the country generally get better ratings. "It's a myth," Long said, "that tabloid sells more....Whether you're in Peoria or Los Angeles, the interest in celebrity news is about the same — 8%. It's not what you believe, but it's the fact."
Other quotes:
The traditional television newscast will die with the baby boom generation. I don't think anybody expects that form to continue. Network newscasts are dying faster than local newscasts.

In the waning days of the traditional broadcast, you don't have to serve every audience. We don't have to do it all.

What's happening here scares the spit out of everybody in New York...There is available in Los Angeles, to watch English language news at 5 pm, two rating points. Three of us [stations are] doing it. If one of us got every eyeball watching at that hour, we don't make money. We break even. That's the landscape.

There isn't a single broadcast in prime time in double digits. The market share for television across the board, not just news, has shrunk dramatically...That's all about the Internet.

My son, a junior at Berkeley, will never own a television set. His mother's an anchor, his father's a news director, he doesn't give a spit about television.

You can no longer make them come to sit in your theater or turn you on at 6 o'clock at night and watch your show....if you don't make it easy for them, they'll go somewhere else.
(Comments from RTNA people: So true. Journalists have to be ready to communicate in different media and different formats (blogs, online, ipods, multimedia) if they expect to stay relevant with today's short-attention-span, well-plugged-in audiences. Television news must evolve if it expects to keep, and increase, the number of people watching it. )

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

News Photographers Face Trial In Toledo For Covering Nazi Rally

TOLEDO, OH (September 26, 2007) - Photojournalists Jeffrey Sauger and Jim West are scheduled to go on trial today on charges of criminal trespass and failure to disperse following their arrests in December 2005 while covering a Nazi rally in Toledo.

The two journalists contend they were standing in a designated "media" area on a public street at the time of their arrest, and Sauger says the City of Toledo has refused to drop the charges unless they sign a waiver absolving the city of any wrongdoing.

"This is about more than the inconveniences Jim West and I have had," Sauger said. "This is about the fact that we are professional photojournalists whose constitutionally guaranteed rights have been trampled on by agencies that exist 'to protect and to serve' the public citizen on the backs of the public citizens' tax dollars.

This is about eroding civil rights in a post-9/11 America. This is about not taking the easy way out because this type of case affects the ability of all journalists to do their jobs."

NPPA president Tony Overman says that NPPA has sent a letter to the judge asking that all charges be dismissed, and encourages photojournalists to show up at the courthouse on Wednesday to show their support for Sauger and West.

"The trial will be held before Judge Lynn H. Schaefer. Jury selection will begin Wednesday morning, September 26, in Courtroom 7 of Toledo Municipal Court, 555 North Erie Street in Toledo," Sauger said. "The trial is expected to last two to three days. We're hoping to have fellow photojournalists attend the trial in a show of support."

Sauger, a freelance photojournalist from Royal Oak, MI, and an NPPA member since 1990, told News Photographer magazine shortly after the incident that he was arrested while he was in the “media pit” (an area set aside for journalists) that was within the boundaries of a cordoned off area that police had specifically set up for the rally and counter-protesters.

The photojournalists, including Toledo Journal photographer Jeff Willis, were arrested at the rally “for crossing police lines” according to a story the next day in The Toledo Blade. The day after the rally, the Blade reported that Willis was the first to be arrested, before the rally even started, and then West and Sauger were arrested later.

Willis is not a defendant in the trial; charges against him were dismissed. But a source in Toledo who is familiar with the charges said that they've heard a rumor that the city may try to subpoena Willis to force him to testify in Sauger and West's trial this week.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Media Usage Down for First Time in Decade

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/7/2007 10:26:00 AM

Information and entertainment increasingly provided in shorter bits and bytes is apparently taking a bigger bite out of time spent with the media.

That's according to a new report from private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which found that for the first time since 1997, there was a decline in time spent with various media (0.5%) from the year before. That's still 3.53 hours per year, per person on average.

The decline was attributed to a new appetite, characterized by the rise of YouTube, for shorter bursts of information.

For example, viewers normally watch TV for 30 minutes at a clip, while they watch video clips online for only few minutes at a time.

Attention, National Cable & Telecommunications Association: The study also found that consumers are shifting away from broadcast and newspapers to cable and video games, spending 6.3% less time with the former and 19.8% more with the latter.

Despite the half-percent drop in time spent with the media, money spent on it was up 6.2% to a record $885.2 billion. The report predicts that spending will grow another 6.4% in 2007 to something north of $941 billion.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

RTNDA Calls for Probe of Police

RTNDA Calls for Probe of Police Treatment of Media at Los Angeles Rally

WASHINGTON -- The Radio-Television News Directors Association is expressing concern about apparent police mistreatment of journalists covering the May 1 immigration demonstration in Los Angeles and calls for an investigation into activities that hindered with the coverage of a news event.

Witnesses gathered at MacArthur Park report seeing members of the Los Angeles Police Department harassing journalists and interfering with the newsgathering process. Published reports indicate officers addressed the media specifically and said they were there illegally and television coverage shows police beating reporters in the crowd.

RTNDA fully supports a statement issued earlier today by the Radio and Television News Association, an organization of radio and television journalists in the Los Angeles area, calling for an immediate and complete investigation.

“Under no circumstances should police interfere with newsgathering when there is no jeopardy to reporters or demonstrators,” says RTNDA president Barbara Cochran. “As a national organization we fully support our colleagues in Los Angeles as they pursue a remedy to yesterday’s events.”

RTNDA endorses training for law enforcement in the role journalists play and the treatment they should receive in covering news events. The association has resources that could be made available for such training.

RTNDA is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTNDA represents local and network news professionals in broadcasting, cable and other electronic media in more than 30 countries.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

SPJ and Press Club letters to Chief Bratton

Open Letter to Chief William Bratton from the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Press Club May 2, 2007

Chief William Bratton
Office of Chief of Police
Los Angeles Police Department
Parker Center
150 N. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90012


Dear Chief Bratton:

As Los Angeles' oldest news media organization, we wish to express our concern about police officers' attacks on news reporters and photographers yesterday during the immigration rally in MacArthur Park. There is no excuse for these attacks which sent several news professionals to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The press pass issued by your department clearly identifies reporters and photographers. It's doubtful that your officers could have mistaken newspeople for protesters. The MacArthur Park attack was not an isolated instance. LAPD officers shot credentialed reporters and photographers with non-lethal projectiles that also caused injuries during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Besides the investigation into the incident that you have already ordered, we urge you to take extra steps to ensure these deplorable actions against the press do not reoccur. We urge you to require that division and bureau commanders order special roll calls to make it clear to every patrol officer and detective that news professionals are impartial observers who are off limits to attack, abuse or arrest as long as they are just doing their jobs. If our organization can be helpful in any regard to policy, please let us know.


Diana Ljungaeus
Executive Director
Los Angeles Press Club for


o - o - o

The Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wishes to express its grave concern over the conduct of LAPD officers toward members of the news media in the course of dispersing demonstrators in MacArthur Park following the day-long political march and rallies in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

Video footage, second-hand reporting and first-person accounts by reporters and crews for several broadcast outlets strongly suggest that officers may have overreacted and assaulted news personnel who were either appropriately attempting to cover a breaking news story, or were attempting to comply with police orders to clear the area.

We note that Mayor Villaraigosa and Chief Bratton have publicly expressed their own concerns about the matter, and that the mayor reportedly has asked the chief to oversee a “complete and comprehensive review of this incident, including deployment, tactics and use of force.”

We applaud the mayor’s and the chief’s commitment, and we urge that this be undertaken as expeditiously as possible, with the full findings to be made public at the earliest opportunity.

Looking beyond this incident, however, we request that Chief Bratton consider convening a working group that would include representatives of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and other leading local journalism organizations to review current LAPD protocols for dealing with media personnel in such situations for possible revisions and improvements to minimize the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.

AFTRA Sees Red Over L.A. Police 'Brutality'

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/9/2007 1:53:00 PM

The American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, the union representing media workers, has issued a list of questions it wants answered and actions taken in the wake of the L.A. police's attacks on media workers during the MacArthur Park May 1 demonstration on immigration.

Those include a public acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the mayor and police, ongoing training for police, and money. The police have conceded it was an overreaction and have reportedly taken some disciplinary steps.

"The attacks on media workers were despicable and unlawful," said Lawrence Mayberry, AFTRA Los Angeles Director of Broadcast,. "Some media workers -- including an AFTRA member -- were seriously injured, and most, if not all, were terrified by the open display of police brutality. The events in MacArthur Park cast a pall on the entire news media as well as serving up a major black eye to the image of Los Angeles, the so-called "City of Angels".
., he said in a memo to AFTRA members.
Following are AFTRA's demands as outlined to members.

1. There must be open, transparent and independent investigations of the May Day Incident, with appropriate penalties and punishments meted out.

2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton must make public statements acknowledging that the LAPD attacks on media workers was despicable and unlawful behavior and will not be tolerated in Los Angeles; The recent statements by both the Mayor and the Chief are encouraging, as is the reassignment of certain police officers, but so much more is needed by way of concrete steps to change a culture in the LAPD that permits the May Day melee in the first place.

3. There needs to be rapid development and implementation of a LAPD Media Relations training curriculum. Said training to be regular and ongoing. Media workers and their employer stations to be coordinated with and used as trainers.

4. There needs to be a review of ongoing relations/encounters between media workers and LAPD at local news and crime scenes. Media worker access to these sites is imperative. Any recommendations to improve the actual on the ground scenarios should include Media workers and their unions in the deliberation process.

5. We demand an open meeting with the stakeholders in this matter: the unions, the Mayor, the Chief of Police.

6. We demand more funding for the LAPD Labor Detail.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

RTNA Demands Probe of Police Actions

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Radio and Television News Association today demanded a thorough probe into ``the violent treatment of journalists'' by police during disturbances at a pro-immigration rally at MacArthur Park.

``The Radio and Television News Association calls for an immediate and complete investigation of the violent treatment of journalists by Los Angeles Police Department personnel at the conclusion of Tuesday's immigration march,'' said an RTNA statement.

``There is evidence that officers knocked reporters to the ground, used batons on photographers and damaged cameras, possibly motivated by anger over journalists photographing efforts by officers to control the movements of marchers,'' said an RTNA statement.

``We are asking that if any journalists have information regarding this matter, including videotape of encounters between police and reporters, that they notify RTNA immediately by calling (562) 987-4545.''

RTNA President Steve Kindred, the business anchor at KFWB, added in a telephone interview that the organization, which represents Southland broadcasters, would conduct its own investigation into the incidents. That investigation will be spearheaded by the RTNA's legal counsel, Royal Oakes.

``We're disturbed by some of the video we've seen but, like the police department, we'd like to look at it objectively,'' Kindred said.

He said that the RTNA, given its ``ongoing interest in improving relations with the police department,'' wants to ``make sure that we have a full understanding'' of what transpired yesterday.

Police chief William Bratton indicated he is displeased by the conduct of some of his officers in yesterday's disturbances.

``Some of what I've seen as chief of the department does not look appropriate,'' Bratton told KNX this morning. ``There were some scenes there, clearly, based on my years of experience and the years of experience of many of my command staff, did not appear to be (appropriate).''
Television footage shows a crowd, apparently prodded by police, sweeping through a live broadcast by a Telemundo reporter, injuring some employees of the Spanish-language station.
An officer can be seen knocking down a cameraman, then grabbing the camera and tossing it to the ground.

A Telemundo anchor said the police action in response to the behavior of some demonstrators was disproportionate.

One reporter who was at the scene said a police order to clear the park was boomed from a helicopter only after officers on the ground began moving against demonstrators and journalists.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Freelance Videographer Freed From Prison

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A freelance videographer who spent more time behind bars than any other journalist for refusing to testify to a grand jury is expected to be freed after reaching a deal with prosecutors, lawyers said Tuesday.

Joshua Wolf, 24, posted the unaired videotape online that he had refused to give federal authorities, defense lawyer David Greene said. He said Wolf could be freed later Tuesday after doing so.

``Joshua Wolf has complied with the grand jury subpoena,'' prosecutor Jeffrey Finigan said in court papers filed Tuesday.

Wolf spent more than seven months in a federal prison after declining a subpoena to turn over his videotape of a chaotic 2005 San Francisco street protest during the G-8 summit.

The government was investigating how a San Francisco police officer's skull was fractured during the melee and who set a police car on fire.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who had kept Wolf jailed for 226 days as of Tuesday, needs to approve his release, Greene said.

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