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.