Friday, October 30, 2015

10 TIPS for Moderators to Improve Political Debates

1.  Ask a direct question about a specific issue.

     Example:  Should there be mandatory prison time for corporate executives who 
     knowingly approve for sale products with potentially lethal safety defects?  Why or why

     Example:   What specific steps need to be taken to solve the student debt crisis?

2.  Ask every candidate the same question.  It might be called a debate, but it's not possible with ten candidates on stage to have a debate.   So at least get each candidate to address specific issues.  

3.  When the candidate ignores the question and talks about something totally different as John Kasich did with his first question, cut him off.  His time to answer is done.  When candidates know they can't talk when refusing to answer a question, behavior will hopefully change.  This is an easy rule for candidates to understand.   If the candidate doesn't immediately address the question asked, the candidate's mic will be cut.    Currently, candidates know they can ignore the question and make any political speech they choose.   It's not surprising that's what they do.  The loser is the voting public. 

4.  When asked a specific question about a specific issue, and the candidate talks in generalities, ask for specifics.  Ask for evidence.

5.  Do not ask the candidate about another candidate.  Do not ask the candidate about what he said about another candidate.   

6.  Ask no questions about polls.   They have nothing to do with a candidate's position on a specific issue.  

7.  Remember the two-fold goal.   It's to get the candidate's specific position on specific issues, and to hold the candidate accountable for those positions be the issue the budget or climate change or Syria or the Iran Nuclear Deal.   If the candidate has no facts and no evidence to support his or her position, that should become apparent when the moderator asks for specifics and evidence and there isn't any. 

8.  Remember, a candidate debate is NOT about you the moderator.   You're not the star. The star is the direct question requiring a specific answer.   Ask direct questions.

9.  Invite someone from the BBC's HARDtalk to come to your network to give a seminar on how to ask questions. 

10.  For levity, if any candidate mentions the liberal media, LAUGH.   We have a status quo media, and we have a highly profitable propaganda network those who don't require facts or rational thought like to watch.  Liberal media?   Nope. 


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jeb Bush

Jeb Schlub!

Enough said.

Ah, time to update this.   Saturday Night Live got it right.   Jebra.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Two Questions for Two Stories

Watch University Presidents Tackle Football's Future and ask yourself two questions that
can both lead to excellent stories for any news organization.  

1.  Where are the reporters?

2.  In this day of record student debt, why is there no transparency on the student bill?

Parents and students should demand transparency.   At many universities the highest fee the student pays goes to fund the athletic department.   The academic students take out loans and incur debt, and then they pay to fund the athletes who go to college for free.  Most college athletic departments lose millions of dollars every year.  

Are ethics important at a university? Is it ethical to send a bill that doesn't provide line-item detail?  

Try calling your university; call the bursar's office.   Ask for a line-item breakdown of student fees. Both parents and reporters can do this.  Good luck.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

College Sports Reporting: Time to Put Down the Pom Poms

There's no other sport like college football.   It causes brain damage, poses a high risk of litigation, it's about the only area of the university where the instructors are given free cars, and it's a sport that at most universities loses millions of dollars at a time of record student debt.  In other words, it's a sport that provides any reporter serious stories to pursue and provides serious challenges for any university president. 

That's why we asked every Division I university president "what's the future of football at your university?"   The result is a project Bobby Makar, Bob Baumann and I produced with Brave New Films:   University Presidents Tackle Football's Future

What is far more distressing than the response from the presidents is what we discovered about the nation's news organizations.

In producing this project, we wanted to know what university presidents had already said about the issues surrounding college football.   We asked a first-rate researcher to find every single news article where a reporter was questioning a university president about college football.   Guess what the researcher found?


That's right, nothing.

Not a single article, not from a sports reporter, not from a medical reporter, not from an education reporter, not from a business reporter, not from a media reporter.   NOTHING!

That total lack of reporting reminds me of the ESPN-MAC contract.   This is a 13 year multimillion dollar sports production deal involving every university in the Mid-American Conference and the MAC Commissioner confirms a copy of the contract was never sent to any of the universities, each of which approved the deal.   How does a public university agree to a multimillion dollar business deal without having a copy of the contract?   How do news organizations fail to question university presidents about doing business like that?

It's time for sports reporters to put down their pom poms and pick up their pens.   It's time for news organizations to hire sports reporters, not cheerleaders.  

When journalism fails, bad things happen.