The Stories Behind the Stories: August 2012
Twin Cities takes bronze in Olympics viewing
Athletes were not the only ones breaking records during the 2012 Olympics. The games this year set several broadcasting records, including the largest amount of aired television coverage, and were heavily touted as “the first social games,” which refers to the fact that social media platforms played a significant role in the Olympics experience. The time difference and high level of social media participation led to a number of online spoilers for Olympics viewers, but that didn’t stop the Twin Cities from watching the television programming night after night. In fact, if prime-time Olympics viewing was a sport, Twin Cities viewers would have claimed the bronze medal behind Denver and Atlanta for the most-watched prime-time hours in the 25- to 55-year-olds category.
(Fun fact: The Twin Cities heavily bid for the 1996 Olympic Games and came in second to Atlanta. Maybe this will help Minneapolis’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games?)
Olive Garden aficionada receives national journalism award
Social media has the power to make anyone a celebrity – and Marilyn Hagerty is proof. Earlier this year Marilyn, the beloved 86-year-old food critic, became an online celebrity after her satisfactory review of a new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, North Dakota, went viral.
Now the veteran journalist and grandmother of eight will travel to her alma mater, the University of South Dakota, on October 4 to receive the 2012 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. The lifetime achievement award honors journalists who are dedicated to serving the local community through consistently fair, truthful and relevant coverage. No doubt her sincere, enthusiastic recount of her Olive Garden experience is a good illustration of this dedication.
How to handle a secret when the media is chasing you
Finishing second at anything is never easy; but in politics, it’s even harder, especially when you can’t tell anyone the truth. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty showed the right way to manage this tough situation when he was notified that he had not been selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate five days prior to Romney’s public announcement.
Reporters had spent much of the summer following Pawlenty around the country and staking out his home in Eagan. As the Vice President selection process moved forward, it was widely believed that Pawlenty was among the finalists. Instead of leaking the news, Pawlenty went on in a business-as-usual fashion for five days before Romney’s selection was made public. In that time, Pawlenty focused on his political duties and continued to campaign for Romney, all while being stalked by hungry reporters who wanted to be the first to get the scoop.
An ABC News reporter who spent time following Pawlenty shared an insider’s view as to what it was like up until the announcement. From offering her a beer to asking to help her with a stalled car, Pawlenty maintained business as usual, long after knowing Paul Ryan was the choice. This strategy will definitely serve Pawlenty well in the future.
Duluth news director’s social media blunder
We are always surprised when people in the media don’t fully understand the impact of what the media can do; just ask former Duluth news director Jason Vincent. After posting a thoughtless comment on his personal Facebook profile comparing “drunk Native Americans” to animals, Vincent was heavily targeted by the media and several Native American interest groups for his public insult, which he managed to remove shortly after posting (though not quickly enough). Likely facing resignation or termination, Vincent coincidently received a job offer the day after his post and accepted immediately. Vincent will anchor for the KGAN-TV morning show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has since apologized repeatedly for his error in judgment, and has been asked to join the Native American Journalists Association, which advocates for sensitivity in news coverage of Native communities and the hiring of Native journalists. We hope he will think before posting anything to Facebook going forward.
Twins radio switches from AM to FM
This has been another long, hard season for the Minnesota Twins. It’s been even harder for Hubbard Broadcasting. In 2010 AM-1500 changed formats to sports and signed an affiliation agreement with ESPN as part of a deal to be the flagship radio broadcast partner for the Twins. Things were great at the beginning when the Twins were winning the American League Central division title. But things don’t look as good for AM-1500 now that the Twins face a second straight nearly 100-loss season.
Earlier this month, the Twins announced that in 2013 its games will be broadcast on FM station KTWN. The Pohlad family owns both KTWN and the Twins. The Twins will join the Wild and Vikings by moving to FM, making the Timberwolves the only Minnesota professional sports team being broadcast on the AM dial.
AM-1500 still has University of Minnesota basketball broadcasts and will continue to maintain the sports format, but losing the broadcast rights for baseball is significant. Baseball has the longest professional sports season and brings with it a loyal audience. AM-1500 has been aggressive in covering local sports via its website, consistently featuring well-written commentaries and stories year-round. It is hard to know how AM-1500 will be impacted by losing the Twins or if Hubbard Broadcasting will try to acquire any other team broadcasts to make up for losing the Twins.
KQRS morning host launches podcast business
KQRS morning host Tom Barnard has dominated morning drive-time radio in the Twin Cities for decades, surviving challenges from Howard Stern, iPods, and satellite radio. Now he has decided to “extend his brand” by producing a free one-hour podcast five times a week. Instead of having to be careful about what he says on air from 6-9 a.m. every morning, the new podcast will give Barnard a chance to push boundaries in hopes of generating enough of a following to turn a profit through advertising revenues. Barnard is producing the podcasts like a reality show, recording them in his basement and having his family and comedian friends contribute content. The “Tom Barnard Podcast” has produced 11 episodes so far.
Barnard just signed a new contract with KQRS but hopes the podcast could be a way to take his career to new heights. So far 100,000 people have downloaded episodes of the podcast.
Retiring Minnesota representative and veteran starts Pioneer Press blog
John Kriesel has already accomplished more in his 31 years of life than most people do in a lifetime. He is widely known as the Minnesota military vet who lost his legs in a vehicle explosion and has since become a state legislator, radio talk show contributor, and award-winning author of Still Standing. Next on his list: writing a blog for the Pioneer Press about topics ranging from his interests – sports, fishing, hunting, cooking, traveling and family – to his pet peeves – close-talkers, non-wavers, and people who camp out in the passing lane on the freeway.
Daily newspapers’ woes continue
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A growing number of American newspapers in major metropolitan regions have shifted from daily publication to thrice-weekly publication. Three of Alabama’s four largest cities will no longer feature a daily paper, and New Orleans and Portland have also joined the list. Despite the steady readership of the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, we have to wonder if and when the Twin Cities will be next?