Sunday, March 28, 2004

Oh...that assignment

For one of my classes I have to ask certain questions to someone in the field I want to go into...duh, journalism! If any reporters, anchors, producers, etc...have a few minutes for my questions please e-mail me back,

I would greatly appreciate it(as would my GPA),

Jason Matisoff

Morals on KCTV Sex Sting

This is from last week's Broadcasting and Cable

Controversy Surrounds Sex-Predator Sting
Ethical debate over TV's role; men threaten lawsuits

By Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/22/2004

Is it good journalism, or is it going too far? TV stations create chat rooms to lure men into believing they are arranging trysts with teenage girls. The sting operation has a laudable goal: exposing potential pedophiles. It also has some journalists worried about ethics. And at least one of the men nabbed on-camera is suing the station that aired the story.

Meredith Broadcasting's KCTV Kansas City, Mo., and several other stations ran February sweeps pieces working with The Portland, Ore.-based Web site exposes "wannabe pedophiles" by visiting chat rooms and posing as adolescents, enticing adults to make dates. The conversations are extremely explicit. Later, the Web site exposes the would-be offender by posting his name and phone number, which they manage to obtain during their chats.

KCTV and stations in Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and elsewhere joined with to take the deception to the next level. Together, they secured a house where the adult visited, presumably to have sex with a minor. Instead, station cameras were there to tape them. KCTV's sting nabbed 16 alleged sex predators prowling the Internet, but it also resulted in three complaints of defamation and one lawsuit.

KCTV was apparently among the first stations to actually name names and show faces of alleged perpetrators lured to a house where, the station alleges, they expected to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. What the station didn't tell its viewers, says Miriam Rittmaster, attorney for one of the plaintiffs, is that her client terminated his online chat without having a clue where the teen's "house" was located. It was only after he received a phone call from a woman "who was clearly in her 30s or 40s" and expressed in graphic detail how she wanted to pleasure him that his "curiosity got the better of him," says Rittmaster.

The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather aired a clip of the Kansas City sting that focused on Rittmaster's client.

Brian Costello, a Kansas City attorney representing another plaintiff, says his client also received a phone call after an Internet chat that he claims lured him out. "This is 100% entrapment," he says, though his client has since dropped his lawsuit and left the area. "[The station] rode him out of town on a rail, acting as judge and jury," Costello charges.

"Even well-intended grassroots undercover investigators can create more harm than good," Michelle Collins, director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, told the AP. Journalists have problems with it, too.

Former ABC News correspondent Robert Zelnick, chairman of the journalism department at the University of Boston, has "little sympathy for sexual predators." However, he adds, "if you're employing fraudulent techniques to lure people into embarrassing situations, that's crossed the line."

Brant Houston, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 5,000-member group of print and TV journalists nationwide, says deception is a "last resort" in developing news stories. Ideally, he says, investigative work by news organizations ought to come from within.

Most of the recent series—from Post-Newsweek's WDIV Detroit; Journal Broadcast's WTMJ Milwaukee, and Viacom's WCAU Philadelphia—relied on to set up the chats and get the alleged perps to a pre-arranged site.

KCTV is steadfastly standing by its story. Station attorney Bernard Rhodes argues the plaintiffs are desperate to save their tattered reputations. "They said nothing about a call from an older woman when they were confronted at the house," he insists. "Their attorneys said nothing about a call" when they tried to get a stay to stop the story from running. "They knew exactly what they were doing," he says of the plaintiffs.

At WDIV Detroit, News Director Deborah Collura says no lawsuits have been filed by any of the 15 alleged predators she put on the air. As for the deception necessary to expose its targets, she says, "When you see those faces coming through the door and read the chats they had online, you don't give a second thought about going to air."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Sad, sad day

Well, I changed the color of the page for the weekend to black. I do this because Doug and I are in mourning. Why? Because the greatest radio show ever went off the air today.

I don't want to speak for Doug (but I will anyway, he can post his own thoughts of you want) but The Tony Kornheiser Show on ESPN Radio was the smartest, most interesting, and funniest show on radio...hands down. If you never listened to it, which I'm sure most of you didn't, you truely missed one of the best talkers in media history. Mr. Tony will continue to be on TV, but it's just not the same.

So, the page will be black this weekend in memorium and return to it's happy upbeat colors next week.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

This analysis

I have no idea how many of you have read this stuff. It's linked off TV Jobs, but I had never looked at it until the other day.

What I'm talking about is Television and Radio News Research by Mizzou prof. Vernon Stone. It takes a very in-depth look at everything involved in the TV and radio news business through surveys of those in the business. You can link to the main page here.

Of, if you prefer, here's a list of the surveys I find most interesting.

Television Newspeople (who they are, where they are, what they do, etc.)
Television News Salaries
Single in Television News (relationship analysis)
Job Mobility in TV News

Now, I like statistics, and I think these are very telling statistics. What do others think?


Friday, March 19, 2004


Ok, so we at work think this is funny. I'll share.

It's captioned: How can you spot a city boy out in the country?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

News & Notes

- Apparently everyone's favorite husband and wife reporting combo is heading for Denver. KMBC's Jeremy Hubbard will reportedly anchor weekends, and report for FOX affiliate KDVR. KSHB's Taunia Hottman, however, will apparently become a new helicopter reporter for Gannett NBC affiliate KUSA. Not a bad jump, if true.

- WIBW-TV General manager Mike Delier resigned this past week.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Pope Response

I can't imagine a news director leaving any job in the middle of sweeps even if it was for a bigger market. My sources say he was forced to resign, and I'm sticking by them. It was also indicated to me that the last book...November, not February, was bad for KSNT. That lends credibility to this hypothesis.


Pope Reaction

So the rumors of Pope's forced retirement are bogus? Who in STL did he con into hiring hiring him? Is Thiboldt finally going to step up and be ND, or are they bringing in someone new to KSNT?

Eric Boedeker

Pope Update

Kevin Pope has left KSNT's News Director post to go to St. Louis.

From: Not tellin, hehe

Monday, March 08, 2004

KC Ratings

For those of you who may or may not be interested. The following appeared in the KC Star today with the included graphic.

The Feb. sweeps: KMBC wins again
by Aaron Barnhart

KCTV, Channel 5, had a huge early lead in the local February news sweeps thanks to its riveting investigation of online sex predators. In the end, however, KMBC, Channel 9, remained on top.

KMBC, Channel 9, once again won every newscast in every time period during the Nielsen ratings sweep that ended Wednesday. KSHB, Channel 41, continued to score impressive gains at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

It wasn’t any one thing that put KMBC back in first place in late news. As Channel 9 officials pointed out this week, the ABC affiliate just brought home the bacon night after night, regardless of how well (or poorly, in ABC’s case) the network was doing.

Channel 9’s average ratings ranged from 11.7 on Thursdays to 13.9 on Wednesdays, while Channel 5’s 10 o’clock news fluctuated from a 14.8 rating on Mondays — when it got a reliable lift from “CSI: Miami” — to 8.2 on Fridays.

Inconsistency cost KCTV its first chance in years to win the 10 p.m. news ratings race. Moreover, KCTV’s weekly averages were all over the map: up when Steve Chamraz’s reports on Internet perverts were airing, down when they weren’t. All three of its competitors, especially WDAF, Channel 4, had much steadier audiences week to week.

So what does this prove? That a heavily hyped news series can artificially pump up viewership during a ratings period? Yes. But KCTV’s rivals ignore another lesson at their peril: People do watch investigative reports.

Station managers know all too well that many viewers will watch whatever news is on. But they sought out Channel 5 when its investigation aired. For four nights, KCTV scored a rare feat: Its audience actually grew after the network signed off at 10 p.m. (KMBC improves on its network lead-in nearly every night.)

Chamraz spends four days in a house and KCTV gets four nights of great ratings. Not bad.

Now imagine what would happen if Kansas City had investigative teams doing real, substantial investigations all the time. KCTV wants to be the area’s leading I-team, but, frankly, there’s not much competition. KMBC staked out its reputation in beat reporting; WDAF and KSHB do consumer news.

Other cities the size of ours have TV stations that devote weeks and months to large investigations. The National Headliner Awards this week honored stations in Nashville and Indianapolis for such work.

KCTV may not dependably deliver the ratings that advertisers want. but it’s shown that it can turn heads. In a 300-channel world, that counts for something.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Another New Look

I continue to play with the new look of this website. Please feel free to drop me a line and comment on such things or you can post them for all to see by clicking the Post New Message link above. I'm trying to make it as easy to read and navigate as possible. Of course, loading time is also a consideration.

Dick's newsletters are now back in the right column. There is also now an official archives section. It includes the postings from the old format. It also will begin to archive current postings by month. So in 6 months if you want to go back and read postings from March, they'll be easy to find.

That's it for me today,

Friday, March 05, 2004

Old Postings Return

How very exciting...the old postings that were lost in the great blog failure of 2004 have been recovered. If you missed anything on this site in the last six months or so, you can read the old postings by going to the archives section at the right of the page and clicking the link. Or, you can just click this link to the old postings.

Also, congrats to Sherwood on being award winning. She also pointed out that the link to post a new message was missing from the top of the page. It's back now. Post early and often.

Have a good weekend,

Thursday, March 04, 2004

She's award winning

I've been trying to get a hold of you. I finally put my bio on the web. I thought that was exciting. Also, another yea for me...a story I wrote won first place for general news in this NPPA quarterly contest. I was excited. We beat out Kansas City and St Louis and it's for general news...sort of a tough category. Anyway, better go for now...Hope you're doing well. How was national single awarness day for you?


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Castro is not dead.

This came from CBS Newspath a few days ago as an urgent message. I laughed...a lot.


The Evening News Graphics which fed on the Newspath feed at 22:13:07 ET
mistakenly included an obit graphic for Fidel Castro. Do not use this
graphic. Castro is not dead.

Newspath NY