Saturday, October 25, 2008

PRE$$ PA$$

I'm in the end zone. The crowd erupts. TOUCHDOWN!!!

It's no fantasy. It's really happened. No, I wasn't the one with the ball, but the guy with the camera shooting highlights for the evening news.

One of the perks of being a TV reporter in Nebraska is the access to big time college football. Texas, Oklahoma, USC, and Virginia Tech are just a few of the schools I've seen.

It takes a press pass to get that kind of access. Of course, I'm not always the guy on the sideline or in the end zone. Sometimes I have to go to the photo box on top of the stadium. You have to take stairs up to the roof to get there.

Make no mistake about it, covering a game is work. I've put in 16 hour days, schlepping a camera for hours. You take a play off, and so does the defense. As soon as you turn the camera off, someone scores.

While we don't pay to get in, we do pay to get there, and pay to park.

Big time politics is the same way. From what I understand, it's not unusual for the TV folks to pay to park their satellite trucks. Those on the campaign press planes pay for their travel. Reporters at big campaign stops pay for internet access and phone lines.

But paying just to cover the event? I thought that was unheard of.

Until now.

This year the two presidential campaigns have what amount to a pay-for-play plans for election night.

No media get in free to John McCain's post-election party according to a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times.

Barack Obama has a free option -- if you want to huddle into a tent watching a TV with other journalists. If you want a good seat, be ready to shill out $1000 or more. Main riser? Pay $1870. Don't believe me? Look at Obama's website.

Columnist Lynn Sweet said in this piece about Obama's plans, "This is an outrageous pay to play plan that caters to national elite outlets with deep pockets."

I agree.

Journalists are considered the fourth estate. They play an important role, that frankly shouldn't be restricted by who can afford to pay.

Yeah, it's not a problem for CNN, ABC, or the Washington Post. But is it limiting coverage by alternative voices or smaller market outlets?

Every journalist should be able to cover this historic election freely, unhindered by finances. I think this sets a dangerous precedent.

Even with the TV contracts in big time college football, members of the local media still get in free. But we're not talking sports, we're talking about the next president. Do you want to limit news coverage to those with the deepest pockets?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Snoop Does Cash: Johnny Cash Remixed

I don't know how to describe this. Snoop Dogg does a posthumous duet with Johnny Cash on "I Walk the Line."

Johnny Cash Remixed

Go to this site and listen to the remixes from various folks. Bizarre.

I like Johnny, and I like remixes. This, I'm not sure about.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Behind the War of the Worlds

I was in the newspaper today, because I'm one of several local broadcasters teaming up for a stage remake of the classic radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.

I'm officially Announcer #3, which means I have about 5 lines. But it'll still be fun!

A step back to ‘War’ - Grand Island, NE - Grand Island Independent

The show is next Thursday in Grand Island at the historic Grand Theatre. It's a fundraiser for the Grand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

President and the Media

Pres. George W. Bush, originally uploaded by echobase_2000.

It's been nearly two years since President Bush visited Grand Island, and eight years since Pres. Clinton came to central Nebraska.

Each time I was fortunate to cover the event on the news.

Without fail, when a president, vice-president, or even a big time candidate comes to town, everyone wants to know if I got to meet them, and interview them.

It might surprise you that presidents, and those seeking the office don't give many interviews.

And when they do, they're with the likes of Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, not Steve White of NTV News. Somehow the White House doesn't seem to understand the value of small market TV. Go figure ;)

In this campaign, I know Sarah Palin's done high profile interviews with the news anchors I listed previously. But did you know she's been more available to the press than McCain, Obama, or Biden?

That's what a CBS reporter on the campaign trail says.

For all Palin's jabs at the mainstream media, she's been as accessible as any one as of late. That surprises me. I haven't seen that reflected in the coverage. Could just be that her ticket's down in the polls. But I can tell you reporters following her appreciate it.

Getting back to the point that candidates don't give interviews very often, think about the soundbites you see on the evening news.

Most often they're lines taken from stump speeches. Reporters consider themselves lucky if the candidate stops at a coffee house or ice cream shop. Because then the horde of assembled journalists might be able to ask a couple of questions in a more informal setting.

So when the next president visits Grand Island (and I hope he does!) I'll be there. But don't expect me to score an interview. Even the press corps that follows day in and day out doesn't get that. Sure there's the occasional press conference, but mostly they fly on planes from one speech to the next.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I think I wanna be on McCain's Plane

In his Reporter's Notebook, Dean Reynolds of CBS explains "how the other half lives."

It's a fascinating report behind the scenes of a presidential campaign. I've covered plenty of campaigns, mostly congressional and gubernatorial.

I've run into poorly planned campaigns that can't keep their candidate on schedule. But most of the time campaigns here are easy to cover. There's plenty of access to the candidate for one on one interviews. We don't generally travel with the candidate, although I have. And there are plenty of photo ops, with tours of industrial plants and farms.

Reynolds writes of the Obama campaign, "The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time..."

For as polished as Obama looks, this really surprises me. Even local U.S. Senate campaigns e-mail us daily agendas with media availabilities scheduled.

Reynolds continues, "The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who've been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure"

I guess there's nothing saying candidates have to be nice to the media, but to traverse the country with what seems like no regard for the press corps that's getting your word out -- that's poor.

There's a saying, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."*

Good advice for reporters and candidates alike.

* Luke 6:31

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debt: Reader Pays Off $14,330 In 20 Months

Instead of CNN's approach of telling us how people are resorting to violence (harming themselves others) to handle their financial woes, Consumerist actually gives helpful advice for getting out of debt:

Debt: Reader Pays Off $14,330 In 20 Months With Our Tips

Monday, October 06, 2008

CNN what are you thinking?

I know the economy is rough. But this is your lead story on

Police: Jobless father kills family, self

That's low. Capitalizing on someone's pain?

And what's that say to others contemplating ending their lives, to see that it'll get you attention?

If you're out of work, on a downward spiral, this is not the answer. There's hope. Christ invites those who are weary and heavy-burdened. Remember that.


CNN, what are you thinking?

In my newsroom, we generally follow a no-suicide rule. Rarely does it do any good to report on

Here, CNN is clearly trying to put a face on the economic story. I get it, people are depressed. But to sensationalize that as the lead story on That's too far.