Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The REAL March Madness: Universities that aren't

There's a major team missing from this year's tournament for a simple reason:  the players so great on the court are pretty lousy in the classroom.   The Huskies of the University of Connecticut have to watch instead of play in the tournament because they didn't meet NCAA academic standards.   And in a piece to USA Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a suggestion:  punish the coaches.

Wrong challenge.   The problem isn't the coach.   It's the university.

Punish the provost.   Punish the university president.

Every university should take this challenge posed by a former university provost, Jon Ericson, the founder of the Drake Group.   The Drake Group is concerned with academic integrity.   The question reporters should be asking their university presidents and provosts is why aren't they?
Both political parties claim university education is crucially important.   So ask your members of Congress if they believe it's good education policy for the highest paid public employee in state after state to be either a football coach or a basketball coach?  Do your members of Congress agree its good education policy for universities to have easy-A courses to keep athletes eligible?    Do they agree with Jon Ericson's challenge?  What's your governor think?   Is the governor truly concerned about education, or is your governor just another pom pom waver who doesn't want to lift the hood on the troubled engine of higher education?

By the way, considering how much time players spend on the road during the season and the tournament, how are they able to miss so many classes and still get good grades?   How many sports reporters have done that story?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Couldn't Believe It

One of my students in my Advanced Broadcast News Reporting class came in with an incredibly sad admission the other day.   He said he didn't often watch the local news.  That's not the sad admission.   The sad admission is what he found when he did watch.   He turned on to watch the news and found no news.

"There was nothing there," he said.  

"They spent 15 minutes on the weather," adding the obvious, "Yes, it's Ohio and it snows in the winter, so what?"

He was amazed there was no news on the newscast.

I asked, "why would you watch?"

"I wouldn't" he replied.

Question:  why don't corporate owners understand that?  There's no reason to watch the news when there is no news on the newscast.  

The student wasn't talking about a small market with no staff, he was talking about Cleveland.

It's not the internet that is killing the local TV news business.   It's management.


Monday, March 18, 2013

To stop losing audience: TRY REPORTING

What a surprise.   As the Pew Research Center reports, fewer people watch local TV news.   Pew finds only 28% of adults under 30 are regular news viewers.

Why should they watch?   To see who got shot?  To get a weather forecast they can get instantly on their iPhone?

Why would anyone go to the news store when there is no news?

A truly disturbing finder in this year's State of the Media Report is how the national press has increasingly turned into human microphone stands.   In examining the presidential campaign, Pew reports that campaign reporters were "acting primarily as megaphones, rather than as investigators."

For local TV the solution is not difficult, but it will take a commitment from management.  

Management must direct its news staff to report, to ask questions, to go after records.  Quality journalism takes time.  You can't build an audience with a live shot.  Management needs to hire first-rate reporters and give them the support to do what they're supposed to do.   In short, management needs to make the decision to put news in a newscast.   That can't be done if your staff consists of human microphone stands instead of journalists.

To build a local news audience, do news that matters not blather that doesn't.  

(Hint for the television station GM:  check the budget and staffing for your computer-assisted reporting unit.)


Saturday, March 2, 2013


Check the job ads on MediaBistro and students can find a fabulous internship possibility.   Some lucky intern has the chance to work with the cheapest schmuck in the country.   This guy wants an intern for 6 months for a minimum of 20 hours a week in New York City.  The pay?   ZERO.   Take a look at what this guy wants:

(You do not need all these skills to qualify but a guy can dream, can't he?)
Do what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it.
You have a great attitude all the time no matter what.
You are a work-a-holic.
You feel like you just need a break.
You are interested in being introduced to important people in the media, business world, literary and publishing world and from time to time celebrities.
You are passionate about marketing, publicity, editing, writing or business.
You need something great on your resume.
You need a letter of recommendation.
You're willing to commit to at least 6 months. You are willing to commit to at least 20 hours a week.
You have access to your own computer and broadband internet.
You are well-versed in Word and/or Excel.
You don't mind doing hours of mindless data entry but are willing to also interact, engage and collaborate.
You have excellent grammar and spelling.
You love to write.
You are interested in meeting literary agents, magazine and newspaper editors.
You know how to edit audio or video.
You are great at answering the phone and have a gift for gab and putting people at ease.
You meet deadlines without any excuses. If I hear how someone cat, dog or grandma died one more time, I think I'm going to throw up.
- See more at:

In addition Mr. Truly Impressed With Himself says, "This is not a free slave internship. This is an opportunity to work with a mentor who is willing and able to teach you all I know."

This man who loves his own talent wants the potential intern to know, "People pay me big bucks to teach them how to do this and you'll get it all for free so that you can take the knowledge with you, whether you are hired as a full-time assistant or you work elsewhere, forever." Do you think this guy gives lessons on how to be cheap?  

Who is this person?   We can only guess.   Here's what the ad says.  "I'm a published author (Warner Books) and media personality who owns a social media and PR firm for authors, experts and celebrities. We have a small virtual staff of 10 but looking to grow. Although the corporation is based in New York, we all work from virtual offices around the country. - See more at: joid=146671&page=1#sthash.mUgPrtXX.dpuf"

Never has going to school been more costly; never have students been graduating with more debt; never have students been under more pressure to find work.   And this published author and media personality can't come up with a few bucks for an intern?   

If anyone knows who this guy is, go throw a pie in his face.