The stories behind the stories: May 2013
Social media dominates Boston Marathon reporting
The Boston Marathon bombing was easily the most covered story of the month. In the aftermath of the bombing, traditional media outlets – struggling with a lack of immediately available information – could not keep up with Americans’ insatiable appetite for new information. In fact, at one point CNN even contradicted itself on its website.
Social media ruled the reporting of the incident. Some posts were by reporters who were able to use the immediate format to provide up-to-the-second updates on the hunt for bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But others were from citizen journalists. Reddit, a social news website administered exclusively by users, played a large role updating people. Many of the updates were provided by a Boston resident who was posting information from a police scanner.
TV stations working together to save money
By nature, local TV stations are very competitive with each other. While individual personalities within the stations typically get along well, there is still a cutthroat atmosphere because of the never-ending battle for ratings. That’s why we were surprised to learn that three of the local TV stations here in Minnesota are playing nice with each other in an effort to save money.
If there is a breaking news event on a late weekend night or early weekend morning, KARE-11, FOX-9 and WCCO will take turns sending a photographer to the scene. That “pool cam” video is then shared with the other two stations. In addition to sharing video on weekend overnights, the three stations also now share one chopper. So if you see aerial footage of a news event on one of those stations, you will likely see the exact same video on the other two. This is another example of newsrooms making adjustments to help make ends meet.
Exhaustive coverage of Schaffhausen trial
One of the most horrifying recent local stories has been Aaron Schaffhausen’s brutal killing of his three daughters in River Falls, WI, last July. Anyone who owns a TV in Minnesota probably noticed the in-depth daily courtroom coverage of Schaffhausen’s trial last month. Courtroom coverage is not something we’re used to seeing in Minnesota because cameras are not allowed in Minnesota courtrooms (reporters are allowed, cameras are not). So Minnesota media outlets take every opportunity to cover court cases across the border because they can use pictures to tell the story (not just court documents and sketches). Minnesota is one of 14 states that do not allow cameras in courtrooms.
The road less traveled from Bismarck to Hollywood
When A.J. Clemente cursed on the air just fifteen seconds into his first newscast as an anchor at KFYR, the NBC station in Bismarck, North Dakota, he apparently didn’t know he was live on the air. He was rightfully fired for his outburst, but had no time to feel sorry for himself because he became an immediate media darling. His national media tour included interviews on Late Night with David Letterman, Live with Kelly & Michael, the Today Show, and many other national outlets. In fact, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan even offered Clemente a job interviewing celebrities on the red carpet at a recent movie premiere.
Now that he’s gotten a taste of stardom, Clemente said he wants to move to Hollywood and try to prolong his 15-second dance with fame. It is interesting how in today’s viral world, someone can become an overnight celebrity by making a foolish mistake on the local TV airwaves.
April saw several big moves in the Twin Cities media industry.
- KSTP reporter Mark Saxenmeyer was fired after inappropriate comments that he inserted into a story as a joke weren’t edited out before the report was published online.
- KSTP morning anchor Vineeta Sawkar was let go from the station after nearly 18 years. She opened up to the Pioneer Press about what’s next for her, which includes sleeping past her usual 3:30 a.m. wakeup call.
- Pioneer Press reporter Les Suzukamo retired after nearly 29 years in the business. Over the last three decades, he has covered minority affairs, public safety, health and wellness, immigration, Internet issues, energy, and local media.
- Twin Cities Live welcomed its new host Chris Egert, who joined Elizabeth Ries on the air on April 29.
Lynda Chilstrom Celebrates 25 Years with Goff Public
The day was April 22, 1988. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was the number one song in America. Ronald Reagan was in the final year of his Presidency. And Lynda Chilstrom, fresh out of college, arrived at Goff Public (Goff Wilkie & Associates at the time) for her first day of work as a word processor (data entry position). She thought Goff would be a temporary place of employment for her, but boy was she wrong! We sat down with Goff Public’s longest-tenured employee to talk about her 25 years with the company.
What has changed most about the communications industry since you started?
Instantaneous communication and the need to be available 24/7. The faster technology allows us to communicate, the more the expectation changes. It can be overwhelming at times, but for the most part technology has made my job easier. Whenever a new tool becomes available, I want to learn about it, figure out if it can help me or our clients, and if I can put it into practice, I will. For example, I started using Pinterest last year to help me organize important websites for a multi-state legislative effort I manage.
What is a typical work day like for you in 2013 vs. 1988?
In 1988 I was responsible for all written communication entry at the company. So when I arrived at the office I would go straight to my inbox – a physical inbox filled with the work that I needed to complete that day. Each project had a slip of paper attached that listed the deadline and job number. I would prioritize the contents of the basket, complete the work, and return it to whichever person assigned it to me. I was busy most of the time, but a different kind of busy.
Now I have e-mails coming in at all hours of the day. Prioritizing and shifting from project to project is necessary several times a day. We rarely have handwritten requests for work; it is almost all e-mail or verbal. When I started I was doing data entry all day long, and now I have a very diverse job description, which includes account management, client communications, research, drafting legislation, and lobbying.
What has been the most meaningful project you have worked on in your career at Goff Public?
My most energizing work has been managing a large-scale, multistate public affairs campaign for Polaris Industries in recent years. Whether it’s passing a committee hearing or actually getting a signature from a governor, every single milestone is exciting.
Why have you stayed with Goff Public for 25 years?
When I started 25 years ago, I never expected that I would be with the company this long. I expected that it would be an entry-level position for me, and that five years from that point I would be somewhere else, maybe even in a different industry. I really enjoy working with the people who I work with. I have had the opportunity to grow in my career. After starting as a word processor, my job evolved into being the office manager in our San Francisco office, the office manager in Saint Paul, and now account work. I have been managing accounts for the last 18 years, starting really small and growing into larger accounts.
What is your favorite Bob-ism? (Bob Goff, our company founder, has a way with words.)
“Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.” That accurately describes my day-to-day workload.
The stories behind the stories: March 2013
Check your ticket and your radio dial
The Twin Cities radio scene experienced another format change this week. What was once Rev 105, X105, Zone 105, V105, Drive 105, and most recently Love 105 is now 105 FM The Ticket. The station joins KFAN and AM1500 as the third sports radio station in the Twin Cities, which is one of the smallest radio markets for like-sized cities in the country.
For now, the station will only air syndicated programs and there have not been any talks to create locally produced shows. The question remains, with two other sports radio stations, is there enough talent – and desire for sports talk – to fill a third station?
For the media geeks out there, here is the history of the WGVX-call number, which has been home to nearly every radio format.
Just ask the question!
One of the biggest local headlines of the month was the University of Minnesota’s decision to fire its men’s basketball coach, Tubby Smith. At the press conference, Star Tribune sports writer Sid Hartman reminded us in his not-so-subtle way that he’s a columnist with an opinion, not a reporter. The legendary journalist grumbled multiple long-winded remarks at athletic director Norwood Teague, referring to Williams Arena as a “dump” and speculating that the Gophers would not be able to attract a quality coach for the job. While many on social media initially lashed out against Sid for his behavior at the event, we might look back and say he was right – the Gophers had already been turned down by several of their top coaching candidates before settling on Richard Pitino on Wednesday.
Local producer punks California reporter
1500 ESPN producer Dana Wessel makes a lot of jokes on Twitter (@DanaWessel), and Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury News probably wishes he had been aware of that before he took one of Dana’s joke tweets as fact and wrote an article about it. His tweet (below) cites an Obama quote which was never spoken.
- Obama to Landon Donovan: “You wanna take Air Force One to Mexico City? We can still make it. Just say the word.”
(Landon Donovan is a soccer player for the Los Angeles Galaxy. His team visited the White House to celebrate their Major League Soccer championship.)
While rummaging through the Twittersphere for quotes from the event, reporter Elliott Almond stumbled upon the above tweet and wrote an article about it without verifying his source (the article has since been removed from the Mercury News website). Elliott probably assumed that since the tweet came from a media person, it had to be true. It was in fact, a complete joke.
Patch joins forces with a local TV station
As local television stations struggle to fill news holes with original local content, one Wisconsin station is taking a unique measure. Viewers of WISN-TV in Milwaukee might have noticed a growing number of attributions to Patch in recent weeks. That’s because WISN and Patch have an agreement to share news and information with each other, as long as they mention where the story came from. Interestingly, the arrangement is simply a gentlemen’s agreement and does not involve money. With 25 Patch sites now in the Twin Cities, I wonder if any of the TV stations here will follow Milwaukee’s lead.
Media grab bag
- KARE-11 received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism for its “Minnesota Marriage Debate” series, which was produced in partnership with Minnesota Public Radio. The five-part series highlighted how the conflict over the marriage amendment was playing out in communities across the state.
- In March, Jeff Coolman resigned as general manager of ECM-Sun Newspapers, a position he had held for more than a decade. ECM acquired Sun newspapers in January 2012 and now owns 51 community newspapers in Minnesota.
- KQRS Morning Show Host Tom Barnard announced at the end of March that he was seeking treatment for substance abuse. Barnard will remain on the air while he is going through rehab. Last summer Barnard made headlines when he started hosting a free one-hour podcast on weekdays. His contract with KQRS goes through the summer of 2016.