31 July 2008

A Tale of Two Videos

I want to point you toward a couple of videos today. Here's the latest advertisement by the John McCain campaign. It's not for McCain as much as it is against Barack Obama.


The conventions are still ahead and they're already bringing out the guns. Bombs. Howitzers. But the McCain campaign isn't alone in the war zone. This next video is from Progressive Accountability and surprise! It features one of the same big names.


I want to point out that last night, I watched a network newscast that skewered John McCain for his advertisement, attacking Obama. (To be clear, the report didn't particularly dispute the negatives for Obama, ie global celebrity status, arugula-consuming, autograph signing style. It did Obama no favors.)

But since I know for a fact that the network I was watching had received a news release spotlighting the Progressive Accountability online video posting, I was surprised that it didn't get mentioned. At all.

I'm sure the networks would offer an explanation such as "well, one was an advertisement. The other was just a group posting an online video."

But this is not the 1980's. Nor even the 1990's. This is Campaign 2008, where many Americans get their information online and the term "viral video" is one that makes advertisers and campaigners salivate.

I'm seriously puzzling over this one today. I don't like the obvious answer that many would offer. So maybe you have an answer?

30 July 2008

"Why Don't They All Just Move?"

Fires. Earthquakes. Fires. Mudslides. White-Hot actors driving drunk. Paris Hilton. South L.A. Fires. More fires. Killer bees. Killer real estate prices. Why don't Californians leave? Why don't we just move somewhere more safe, stable, and affordable?

Someone asked me that a couple of years ago. At the time, I said "When you live in California, you accept the fact that at some point, something bad is going to happen." And that's very true.

So the earth shook for about 20 seconds on Tuesday. It was interesting. Apparently, my "immortality complex" is still working overtime. All I did was walk to the phone and call my favorite network employers who kindly offered to take me in for a lucrative day. Or two.

What can I say? Some of us are meant to shake. Others to shakedown. Have a great day!

28 July 2008

"A Gift from the World to Us in so many Ways!"

Are you one of those poor down-trodden right-thinking Americans who believes the candidates aren't being covered equally? Turns out you're right. At least according to Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News. But it turns out, there's a reason why.

Williams says that newscasters in the United States are giving more airtime to the Democratic candidate because of the historic significance of his campaign, and because he was a new face in comparison to Mr McCain.

(The difference in coverage has prompted the McCain campaign to put together a video entitled "Obama Love", which pokes fun at the media's "bizarre fascination with Barack Obama."

Here it is, just in case you missed this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6CSix3Dy04. Doesn't it sorta remind you of something the MRC would put together?)

Williams said: "He (Obama) is the newcomer. His uniqueness in several areas, beyond just the physical, is obvious. So....as the young fresh-to-the-scene candidate, as a man who would be revolutionary in terms of our past presidents, he is getting the lion's share of the coverage.

"Senator McCain has run before and is a well-known figure to Americans, and in name and recognition terms is far and away in front of Obama."

I thought as journalists, we were supposed to rise above the "newness factor" in favor of fairness, particularly in election years. In fact, I would have sworn there were laws requiring us to do exactly that. Sure, we have a little ADHD, but couldn't we hide it better during working hours.

And historic significance? Uniqueness? I bet Hillary Clinton is locked in a closet somewhere screaming with her head spinning 360 degrees every .5 seconds.
Are you one of those poor down-trodden right-thinking Americans who believes the candidates aren't being covered equally?

(Editor's Note: Someday, when I learn to properly work with this site, I will be able to give photographic equal time to candidates. Until then, it's one photo per posting. Apologies to any offended.)

27 July 2008

A Spot of Semantics...

"The financial markets were roiling today..."

"Car sales numbers roiled the markets today."

Do you know what the word 'roil' means? As in to roil someone beyond their ability to tolerate? It's one of those words you almost never hear except when the economy is in trouble or the markets are being rocketed up or down by some particular news or event.

Roil:–verb (used with object)
1. to render (water, wine, etc.) turbid by stirring up sediment.
2. to disturb or disquiet; irritate; vex: to be roiled by a delay. –verb (used without object)
3. to move or proceed turbulently.
4. when a nearby member of the British House of Winsor sneezes on you. You can accurately then describe yourself as having been roiled.

Didn't we all learn about such words in journalism class? I took Journalism 101 for Broadcast majors where we learned that "yes, those words are available for use." But we were also told that the big words, the "$40 words," were best left for the folks in print. The reason for that of course, is because in a newscast the viewer (usually) can't go back and re-listen to the information. It's a one-time offering on our stories, therefore the information must be easily understood instead of full of sticking points.

Or snobbery. Who talks like that? People who went to schools where their education cost half the operating budget of a small Third World country and they rightfully want to make sure everyone around them knows it.

I'm for everybody knowing who bought what in a college education and all, but... isn't the use of such words also a bit divisive? It drives a wedge between the people in the Ivory Towers and the people in the plain states. And the Plains States, for that matter.

How can we wonder why the viewers are leaving us behind if we're not talking to them, but instead intentionally talking over their heads? If we direct our stories at the lofty few who understand what we're saying, can we really be surprised when the rest of the people get up and leave the room?

I'm not suggesting we need to talk down to viewers, but since most people (including the well-educated among us) don't use the R-word in every day conversation, should we be using it at all when communicating on television? I always heard that good manners were best defined as 'the art of making others feel comfortable.' Since we've always used the metaphor of being invited into someone's living room to describe the evening newscast, perhaps we need to remember our manners?

If we want to advertise the impressiveness of our education, we should stick to annoying, er, informing those in our immediate circle and perhaps post it somewhere on the Internet. That would allow our fans easy access to such information and at the same time, give others the opportunity to understand what the devil we are talking about.

By the way, I attended a small private university in the West. I graduated with 5 cents to my name and no debt. And yes, I do know how to use roiled in a sentence. (See definition #4 above. And see "Sucking Viewers In:" over under my picture on the left.)

"I went to London a few years back, but didn't see any opportunities to get roiled."

26 July 2008

"Forest, Meet Trees. Trees, this Is Forest."

I like to read what they're saying about the United States around the world sometimes. I like to think it gives me a little perspective. At the times when we've been attacked as a country and people around the world say and do things that let us know they despise us, I think back to my personal travels and sorta nod. But on smaller issues, internet newspaper sites can provide such an interesting dose of reality.

For instance, Barack Obama is in Europe today. During this trip abroad, he's met with Israeli leaders. He's met with the Palestinians. He's met with both the current and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He's explaining why he didn't go to meet with those poor, injured American troops in Germany. But he's definitely made his bones on this trip. And clearly, he's well-received and if elected would suffer from no un-likability factor.

But aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves? Our chariot may be galloping ahead of a large pack of horses. The papers in London seem to think so. Here's their analysis:


I'm not going to go off on this any further. It's pretty well laid-out in the Daily Telegraph. You can read it for yourself.

And sometimes, I think it's nice to stand back and admire both the forest and the trees. A little perspective can be a helpful thing.

25 July 2008

Life's Little Lessons

Larry Mendte. Now there's a name that we'll remember for awhile. He was a man who seemed to have everything going for him. A huge, public profile and adoring public. An extremely lucrative job. A loving wife and kids. Tons of awards and accolades.

You would think all that would be enough, wouldn't you? I mean, how much more could he want? Need? Expect out of life? Apparently, it was not enough. Larry Mendte became obsessed with taking his co-anchor down.

Mendte is the Philadelphia television anchor who hacked into his co-anchor's email to read her personal and professional communications. He then used the correspondence as fodder for local television and gossip writers. The co-anchor/target of his obsession, Alycia Lane, already appeared to be in a downward spiral, but Mendte hastened it all, jumping up and down as hard as he could on her grave.

When the FBI served a search warrant on his office and home, confiscating his computer and hard drives, it was a shock to most in the business. I sorta laughed when one reporter wrote, "Mendte never thought he'd get caught." Ya think?

Still it's sad when people who should depend on each other can't. Even sadder at a difficult time for our business and our country's economy when we are more focused on tearing each other down than building each other up. Mendte forgot the cardinal lesson of an anchor team: you sink or swim together.
But maybe he's learned a new lesson that he'll remember a long time. After all, he could have a full six months to contemplate very little else.

24 July 2008

How much is enough?

We've been treated to a week of wall-to-wall coverage of Barack Obama's whirlwind trip to the Mideast. The Democratic Presidential Candidate visited some troups. And Obama met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He went on to Europe.

Meanwhile John McCain draws out one lonely print reporter at a stop in New England and today rides a golf cart.

It seems like as media, we're awfully defensive about our coverage. It seems like we're making ourselves hoarse denying that Obama is unfairly being given more airtime. Does anybody else think we might be protesting just a little too much?

And would someone please ask the question I want to hear: Does a week's tour of diplomatic hotspots fully prepare you to set foreign policy as the Leader of the Free World?

Of course, maybe McCain was merely being Presidential, riding around in his cart. Maybe he was being very-extra-special-Presidential. Afterall, do you have any idea how many these pictures of President George W. Bush in a golf cart are available on the web these days?

It's all just something I was thinking about.

23 July 2008

Here I am...

It's the middle of the week and I'm looking for excitement! There's a hurricane in Texas. A convention in Chicago. A fire... well, dozens of fires all over the state of California. I've got personal chores galore (who doesn't, right?) and a little writing work to do. I've been to the gym, gotten the car "smogged" and discovered it's a beautiful day outside in LA. What could be more right with the world?

I hope you have something fun to look forward to, too!