Radio & Television News Association

Friday, February 24, 2006

Anchors' Desks Rate Foulest On Germ Test

Anchors' Desks Rate Foulest On Germ Test

It wasn't nearly as gross as "Hidden Hotel Horrors," Dave Savini's infamous black-light investigation of hotel bed sheets, but WBBM did a little undercover germ snooping around its own newsroom last week. Of all the surfaces tested by medical editor Mary Ann Childers, the highest bacteria counts were found on the desks of Diann Burns and Antonio Mora, top news anchors at the CBS-owned station.

But that's no cause for alarm, according to the University of Arizona professor of environmental microbiology who analyzed the samples for Childers' sweeps piece.

"Even though Antonio and Diann had the highest numbers of bacteria in the studio, they were still low compared to most professions," said Dr. Charles Gerba, whose research showed the work environments of teachers, accountants and bankers as the worst germ-wise. "They [Mora and Burns] were on the real low end for most TV studios, so they should congratulate themselves. . . . Generally, in the studio in Chicago, we found low numbers of bacteria all around."

The cleanest spot in the WBBM newsroom, Childers reported, was the assignment desk.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's good to be a Tribune executive

from Crain's Business Weekly:

A committee of Tribune Co.’s board approved raises in the 2006 base salaries for top company executives.

Dennis FitzSimons, chairman, president and chief executive officer, will receive a 3.1 percent increase, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Feb. 14, the company’s compensation and organization committee approved setting FitzSimon’s 2006 base salary at $985,000. His 2005 base salary was $955,000. A Tribune spokesman declined to comment.

Tribune executives have come under fire stemming from a 2004 circulation scandal at its New York Newsday publication to declining revenue at its newspaper and broadcasting business units. Scott Smith, who was promoted to president of Tribune Publishing Co. in January 2005, received a 9.5 percent pay bump. His 2006 salary was set at $575,000, up from $525,000 in 2005.

Donald Grenesko, a senior vice president, will receive $570,000 in 2006 base pay. That’s an 8.5 percent increase from his $527,000 base salary the previous year. John Reardon, president of Tribune Broadcasting Co., did not receive a raise for 2006 since he was promoted in November.

In addition to the increases in base pay, the committee approved bonuses for 2005. FitzSimons will receive a bonus of $250,000, down from $260,000 the previous year. Smith will receive a $154,000 bonus compared to $235,000 in 2004. Grenesko’s 2005 bonus is $102,800 compared to $125,000 the previous year.

Tribune Co. stock closed Tuesday at $30.60 a share. It is down 27 percent since the start of 2005.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Could CW Lead to a CBS, CNN Union?

from Media Week:
Anthony Crupi
JANUARY 30, 2006 -

A successful launch of CW could very well presage a momentous transformation in how co-parents Time Warner and CBS Corp. gather and disseminate news. According to sources in both camps, CNN and CBS have never quite closed the door on the idea of merging their news operations, although the last formal talks were dissolved in 2003, thanks in large part to the financial distractions posed by Time Warner’s struggling AOL.

Now that the companies have sidled closer to each other, many observers expect merger talks to resume. “Some kind of combination is inevitable,” said Hal Vogel, principal of Vogel Capital Management. “The cost of having far-flung bureaus is way too high for any one organization to take on alone.”

Financial considerations aside, the affinities between CNN and CBS are inarguable. CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein served more than 20 years at CBS News before joining the cable news net in November 2004, so he knows the operation inside and out.

And like CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves, Klein has been searching for the formula that will propel his news organization into first place. “CBS clearly has been looking for a cable presence for awhile,” said Prof. Robert Thompson, director, Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. “If the evening news does finally die, it would hasten a lot of things…but I don’t think it will happen in the short term.” Vogel said Moonves’ impatience with CBS News could hasten a deal. “Whether it’s CBS and CNN or some other outlet, I can foresee a deal being made within 12-18 months.”“

It’s a good fit, but there’s still a lot of pride at stake,” said media analyst and author Jeff Alan. “CBS is going to give it one more go to make the news division profitable again…but in the long run, a news share is a better fix than simply putting Katie [Couric] or Diane [Sawyer] in the anchor chair.”