Sunday, July 31, 2005

Give and Take

This morning's Oregonian kept up its campaign to talk about pensions. In it, it focused squarely on Randy Leonard and his fire bureau pension.

Was it a fair article? Were the facts presented fairly and accurately?

Randy knows his side and so far, he's got this to say on Blue Oregon. His ex-wife said she was misquoted.

Is this a case of story decided before the facts were all in? Or a case of someone creating a different cover.

I'll let you judge.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Kudos to the O

Great to see Mike Donahue's story gets an above the banner headline in this morning's Oregonian, and a front page living section play.

If they decided to do the story from reading this site, I'm extremely happy.

If they got it off the buzz on the street or in the biz, that's cool too.

Again, if we can help get Mike's story out (and now that it's in the O, it will) and his hope to get the message to other men, fantastic.

--And again, kudos to KOIN's interim management for playing it straight - "to the point."

Friday, July 29, 2005


Today's Tribune has a couple of interesting items.

One of them being an optimistic look forward for the paper, a statement that talked about increased readership, a 15% jump in ad sales, but nothing about how that lead to cuts and layoffs. The article does not mention those let go, even in an issue that published Pete Schulberg's final (or one of his final) article(s).

The Trib moves to Clackamas County starting this weekend.

The other item is Phil Stanford writing how they - Channel 6 - are closing in on me. He takes time to narrow down what I do, but I think I've made it clear what industry I'm in.

I didn't kill Francke, Phil.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


The July Book is over for TV. The spring numbers are in for Radio.

For TV - KGW turns the tide on KPTV in the morning - reversing Good Day Oregon's 6-7am win in May. KPTV tied the Today Show (is their tide turning?).

No changes midday. KGW wins, but not as big as usual. KOIN 2nd.

5pm - The news is KATU has overtaken KOIN by a full point and two shares for 2nd. At 6:30, KATU ties KGW. We need to see what happens in November to see if these are real numbers.

At 10pm, KPTV out posts all network programming. At 11, KGW ends up with a smaller number than 12, but a larger share.

My conclusion: Contests helped 12, KGW should fret a little about the numbers and not be too coy about November. A good book for 2 could turn the market on its ear. I also think KOIN won't be able to get out of its free-fall with its new weather person and team changes. Too much to do, so little time. Plus, they might have a new owner by then and a new corporate look.

The commercial numbers (listeners 12 years and older) are out for Portland Radio:

The headlines for me are:

K103 is #1. Progressive (or ultraleft) KPOJ beats ultraright KXL, and is up a full share point from the winter. Two country stations are #2 & #3. The Charlie experiment has dropped numbers for FM97 - they stand at lucky 13th. KPAM remains at death's doorstep - #20, tied with a spanish language station.

When KOPB's numbers are factored in, insiders tell me they'll move to the head of the class.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

One Up-ing Classy

Last week, Mike Donahue told colleagues his doctors caught cancer of his prostate in the early stages. Tonight, he told viewers about it, as he will at 6 and 11 the next two days.

This is not a man saying "woe is me." This is a man who wants other men to understand the importance of early detection and treatment. He knows men don't go see doctors about this because of ego or fear. He hopes his reports might get guys to take this seriously.

Sadly, these reports are on the lowest rated TV newscast in the market. This is not a time of competition, but a time to educate. For those of us in the business, we should encourage people to watch KOIN the next few days, even though it's against our nature to do so. Or we should encourage our bosses to do similar stories and mention Mike - because everyone knows, likes and respects him. Other markets have done this when an icon has faced a tough medical challenge.

Let's offer our prayers and good wishes for a postive outcome for Mike, and hope his reports make a difference.

Class act.

Another Take...

...on the Tribune story and it's effect on business coverage in Portland.

It's on the MetroBlogging Portland site - so click here to read it.

Mail Bag

A couple of questions rolled in overnight:

  • What do y'all think about Portland Monthly Magazine? Do you think about it? Nicely packaged, tons of ads - anyone ever written for it? What was that experience like?

  • Today's the last day of the July TV ratings period with a couple of surprises - KGW is in a virtual tie w/KPTV in the morning (pre-7am), is nearly tied by Channel 2 at 6:30pm (big surprise), and is beaten by Channel 12 in late night news (I know - not head to head). Is the big 8 slipping or is it just the summer? A year ago they were #1 with a bullet. What's their next move?

-- pdxmediawatch at --

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The NEW Trib

No biz section - in the paper and on the web site.

Jill Spitznass has a piece today about being single - must have been her last - she usually publishes Tuesday. Or my inside information could be wrong.

No mention of any former staffers - haven't seen the hard copy yet - has the masthead changed?

I really thought Stanford would mention it - since he doesn't seem to be worried about his job.

Speaking of Great

Dick Weinman was THE TV journalism teacher in Oregon. When OSU had the best equipped broadcast program in the state in the 70's and 80's, he excited kids like Elaine Murphy, KC Cowan, Dick Vardanega, Mary Fetsch, Jeff Schrum and Dave Angier to make television a career.

He taught them about being good journalists in front of and behind the camera. He also woke up an entire generation of Oregonians as the morning voice on OPB Radio. Dick Weinman kept in touch with his former students, encouraging them to focus on their strengths and to keep improving their talents.

Last Thursday, "Doc" Weinman's car veered into a cement truck near Corvallis. He's now in intensive care at OHSU. For those who knew him and to others who didn't know about the accident, you can send a card to the family in care of the ICU at OHSU.

For those of you who spent time in his classroom and his studio, feel free to share your stories here about Dick Weinman.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Two Giants

About a week ago I read about the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and its Hall of Fame at the U of O School of Journalism and Communications.

I looked up their Hall of Fame and didn't see two names I know will get there sometime soon.

Bernie Foster is a giant in his community and ours. His Skanner newspaper(s) - did you know he also publishes in Seattle? - are much more important than the Oregonian and the Willamette Week and the TV and Radio stations combined to people of color. When he takes a side, you know he listened and thought about what he will say and write. He cares about Portland and he wants to make sure that our leaders consider his neighborhood and his neighbors, now and forever. I expect some day the ONPA will put him in their hall. He is a man of integrity and if you don't know about him in your newsroom, I suggest you pick up the phone and call him. He'd be happy to take that call and listen to your questions. You'd better be ready for his.

Clara Padilla Andrews came to Oregon in the 1990's and put El Hispanic News on the map. She used to be the Secretary of State in New Mexico, and she took her political smarts and an attitude of no fear to create a paper that means something to Oregonians who speak two languages. The paper is growing, both in circulation and in prestige and it rightly has become a place where opinion leaders need to communicate. She has a great loyal staff who believe they are doing something.

There are lots of people like this, but these are two we should put on a wall some day to remember what they brought to our craft.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Whose BLOG Is It Anyway?

In the past week, I had to delete a few comments, which prompted this smart question:

Could PDXMediawatcher please explain his criteria for removing a post??

It got me to thinking about what this site has become. It has become (at least in my newsroom) something folks take time to find every day. We know people tangentally connected with the news biz read it (and comment), as do lots of outsiders with viewpoints and comments that seem to make no sense at all (and drive the discussion way away from the point I had originally hoped might make some impact on management).

It's clear PDX Media Insider has little impact on the coverage of news, or the management of news coverage. I wish it did, but my ego remains in tact. As far as "our" issues, I see my self more as a gatherer of ideas and comments, not the final gatekeeper. And I know some discussion does get to the meeting table. (And that some managers have appeared threatened or at least defensive when some comments get to the heart of what we'd like to see some outlets quit doing).

That said, I have deleted a few posts because I thought they were mean spirited, off point, crass, but, most important to me, I didn't think they belonged on MY blog. I haven't done it every time (for those keeping track), so I'll admit to some inconsistency. I don't want the blog to denegrate into what I've been reading on the PDX Radio site. To tell the truth, I also don't have time to police everything - just the obvious stuff.

Jack Bogdanski, who writes the enormously popular Jack Bog's Blog is taking a comment hiatus. That is, he's writing, but not allowing folks to post. As he said, " tell the truth, I'm mostly tired of reading and brooding about certain readers' comments."

I understand.

I'm not there yet.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


What happened at the Trib this week stirred up some memories I wanted to share.

Before I do that - bets on whether tomorrow morning's Portland Tribune mentions them at all. I say no.

In March of 2001, the new corporate owner of KOIN (Emmis, which is now selling the joint) let go of about 20% of the staff. Sales, traffic, finance, production and news. No department was spared.

In its wake, some long-time technicians, reporters and photographers we're let go and escorted by security out the door (corporate America). Sandy James. Mark Sanchez. Dave Schmitke. Craig Sklar. John Keller. Charlie Parr. Leslie Martin. Wayne Kosbau. Jay Leonard. Dean Murch. Jeff Voeller. And others. Their old friend and colleague - then manager, John Ray was on his honeymoon, but his fingerprints (fairly or not) were on the dismissal. He still has a hard time talking about it. He'd been pushed aside by the news director Rick Howard who was hired, along with April Thomas and with the help of Bruce Williams (now at KPTV), to clean house.

John got his walking papers in June along with Shirley Hancock, John Honore (who got the sweetest severence in the history of Portland) and a guy named Winnick (can't remember his first name).

It was the largest house cleaning in Portland TV history. Many thought it was a chance to get rid of old timers and bring in fresh blood. In truth it was about saving money. The publicity about Shirley's firing was the beginning of the end of KOIN news. Many people say Gianola smartly used Shirley's example to convince KOIN to give him his current contract, lest he go back home to KATU and take with him a sizable audience. (How odd considering Shirley used Jeff as a way to get a settlment in her suit against KOIN).

My point here is to remember all these nice people, who, like those good people at the Trib, were human beings. They may had lost a step, or didn't fit in, or were a financial liability, but they were people. Most of them moved on. I just heard Mark Sanchez was the last one let go from KOIN to get work - finally finding a PR job in Salem. Good for them all. They found something.

The lesson is the business (media) is malleable. They all had skills.

But we should remember everyone who work or worked in Portland media because they loved it and thought they'd retire doing it.

To the six at the Trib (and Nevill Eschen, who lost the newspaper side of her Pamplin gig), godspeed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Breaking (Bad) News

I just got this from a source:

Just when they thought they'd be moving into their new building in Clackamas County, six Portland Tribune employees were shown the door.
  • Pete Schulberg - Columnist
  • Jill Spitznass - Columnist
  • Kristina Brenneman - Biz Editor
  • Jeanie Senior - Biz Writer
  • Jon Bell - Biz Writer (see a pattern here)
  • Tim Jewett - Photo Editor
Managing Editor Connie Pickett was demoted to an editor position. Dwight Jaynes takes on more of a day to day managing and editing function.

Lots of us continue to wonder long this experiment will last. Perhaps the move to Clackamas was the first real indication.

I'm told more news to come.

It's always a sad day when people with families and talent are let go.

Let's wish these people a short transition to their next gig.

As Predicted...

The O corrected its embarrassing mistake of reporter Anna Griffin's name on page two.

It called it a misspelling. It was bigger than that.

It's like the poster who told us about being at a company function and someone coming up to him and saying "do you still work here?".

I think we expect better of our co-workers - especially those of us who believe in fact checking.

Late, Live, Loco

I wish I'd have made up that headline. That's the title of this morning's WWeek cover story.

Read Zach Dundas' piece this morning - his focus (as it's been here many times) is that successful engine that is Fox12 News.

He's right that it doesn't represent what's happening in our community, totally. But as he and Channel 12's news boss agree, it's working for them.

It's a well-written tongue in cheek shot at their style and "substance".

I look forward to your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


WWeek is going to have a story about TV news, the Oregonian is going to print a retraction (apology) about making a mistake on a key reporter's name, and Pete Schulberg is pissed and wants to out me (honestly Pete, I think I was rude in calling you out - you are just doing your job and have a small amount of space to fill every week - you worked your ass off when you were reporting and anchoring on TV and at least you took the time to write about local stations when you were at the O. I think we should honor you for that).

Looking forward to hump day.

I really like doing this, but if I get outed, this site is gone. Can someone else pick this up if I'm gone?

KOIN Weather

Okay, here's what I learned.

KOIN apparently has transferred (Emmis station to Emmis station) weatherman Jeff Baskin from New Orleans (WVUE - Fox) to Portland. Don't know much about Jeff - if he's a real meteorologist or a Mississippi State correspondence course kind of guy?

The bottom line is this (even if I got the guy from bad sources - in NO they're advertising for a new meteorologist) - the new weather guy gets Katie Baker off of the main shows (which she didn't want - end of her career outside of Portland). Anna Katayama comes off mornings and noon, so it's Katie and that weakling Mark Ronchetti (I think he's terrible) on the AM and Noon (4th place in the morning, 3rd at Noon - sorry Mark Hendricks and Shirley Hancock/Reed Coleman - they ruined your legacy). Then the new guy works with Jeff and Kelley, Jeff and Kelley, Jeff and Kelley, Jeff and Kelley (unless they come to their senses and put Donahue back on the anchor desk).

Ken Boddie (the #1 news anchor for KOIN right now) pairs with Anna, and Alexis Del Cid goes back in the reporting pool.

New weather guy - two things. It's Will-am-ette. And I hope you got them to buy new graphics and new toys. It'll take about two years for you to make your mark.

Welcome to Portland. Aside all the snide stuff I've written here, you are coming to an easier market to forecast and a beautiful place to live.

Get Ready for your Close-Up

After reading this, some Portland TV news managers may be getting up pretty early tomorrow morning.

Willamette Week's cover story tomorrow will focus on Portland TV News and sweeps (especially the current July book). It is written by Zach Dundas.

Mr. Dundas and I conversed via email and he asked some very good questions, so I look forward to reading his take.

The issue hits the street sometime after midnight. It'll be live on the WWeek website after 10am Wednesday.

New Toys

Coming soon, KATU will be the first newsroom in PDX to go tapeless. Their new Panasonic cameras use memory much like our digital home cameras.

The complaint inside is inadequate training (as usual with a new toy) and some missing equipment, so I'm told.

Will it enhance news gathering or give them a competitive edge? No. It never does. The only way it does is missing pictures and uncomfortable waits from the anchor desk - "uhm, folks, we're having technical difficulties."

The only time Portland viewers cared about technology was in the late 90's with the helicopter wars, and the hype that accompanied that. New sets, new lighting, stinger units, etc. don't matter. What matters is if the technology helps you win a story. I look for the first disaster where a local reporter or photographer delivers amazing live pictures from a cell phone, ala the London bombings.

When KOIN went on line with its news server (edited pieces go to a hard drive, not a tape), there were lots of problems, human error and equipment snafus. Lots of dead air and angry looks from Mr. Gianola and later, Ms. Day.

Now if KOIN could just correct that problem.

Watch This Space

Today's post will grow - we're learning more about the new KOIN "Chief" Meteorologist (did he too get his degree from Mississippi State?) and the changes coming to Channel 6, the new technology coming to KATU and other things.

But first...

I got gigged, correctly, the other day for my grammar use, so I'll pass on a HUGE error in today's O - passed on by a friendly poster.

The number two editorial refers to City Hall reporter Anna Griffith's story about how Portland's Park Bureau was going to charge non-profits for using parks.

OOOPS - Her name is Anna Griffin. Wonder who's getting chewed out this morning at the weekly editorial confab???

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Did I Miss Something?

I'm confused.

The Oregonian's Public Editor, Michael Arrieta-Walden writes a thoughtful piece of how a photo can distort a story and the reaction to that story from the point of view of the subject.

Then the subject writes an angry letter to the editor saying they felt "monstrously misused" by the reporter Betsy Hammond (who has an interesting rep), which is at the top of the Sunday letters heap.

Then the lead editorial, which talks about school funding and retirement pay, again, is run with the same picture again, as if to say to the Public Editor and retirees who felt had, so what?

I'll be there's losts of talk in the Broadway Beltway. What's being said?

It just struck me as if the editorial page editors couldn't care less about the people who felt lied to.

Please, let's limit this to a discussion about journalism and editorial decision making - not another discussion about teaching and retirement pay - okay?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Speaking of Columnists

About a month ago I read the excellent (can't believe I'm writing this) Portland Confidential by Phil Stanford. (Here's a free plug to help you sell copies).

Since it's clear he's got free reign at the Trib (or no one wants to hear his rants by editing him), he's been writing about those old glory days in some of his columns (and to sell some of his books). At least he's not boring is with more Francke stories. Can you imagine if FOX12 News was on the air then, reporting on what he's telling us?

Seriously, along with Jewell Lansing's great book on Portland, you should buy these two great books to read about the past - I'll give any reporter under the age of 30 to quote at least one of them in a piece huge props!

Heeeee's Back

Just in time to give his two cents about the Emmy Award nominations, Ladies and Gentlemen will you welcome back, Peter Ames Carlin. applause here

Seems our friend Peter has been off a while. I think I read he was on sabbatical. Meanwhile his wife Sarah Carlin Ames (did they flip a coin?), toils as a spokesperson at Portland Public Schools.

In the meantime we've had tens of thousands of hits, hundreds of posts by people who wanted to weigh in or read about what's going on in TV and Radio (and newspapers - clearly our weakness) in the Rose City. In our shop, we usually pass on Pete because he seems to just want to write about shows and specials, not the everyday things that happen in our town. In his world, local TV news doesn't exist. So that's why we're here. Maybe they should have some truth in advertising and call him a TV Entertainment Critic.

I will say he is a very good writer and his pieces are entertaining, but I wish he had the sources and resources to let the rest of the world know what's happening at Charlie, or to hear his spin on the fall of once-mighty KOIN 6 News, or KOIN News 6, or whatever (I didn't get to the point).

Even the biggest story of the week, which merited something in the TV or Biz pages at the O didn't even make a dent - the firing of Teresa Burgess at 12/49. The usually lackluster and useless Schulberg got it in today scooped by us three days ago.

For years the O acted like news didn't exist outside of 1320 SW Broadway. I guess that's still the rule.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

...Fight, Fight, Fight

An interesting post on Blue Oregon following a humous piece in the Denver Post.

It's the old, do we lean to the left or to the right.

It's not posted here to confirm anything, other than it's something to think about and write about.

FB-I Shouldn't Have Done That

If you go here or here you'll see that Portland FBI spokesperson Beth Anne Steele is in a world of hurt.

Steele used to be a producer at Channel 2, known for her crying jags. When she got the FBI gig, people there went, huh? Now most of us know her as they less-than-competent mouthpiece for the feds here. She's not a crowd favorite. We're told the Justice Department and the White House are furious. She's on leave right now, and we're told, not likely to survive this. Her boss may get sent to Siberia (Butte, Montana?).

The story in the O yesterday didn't go as far as Newsday or, most importantly Aljazeera, which I would think put a little pressure on Portland's security status.

It's interesting because last week I was watching a re-run of the West Wing when President Bartlett's daughter was kidnapped and the story thread had the Portland FBI rounding up Islamic Fundamentalists here. Wonder if BA got a consulting fee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An Attitude with the O

A reader wrote in, concerned about the article written by the new FoodDay editor at the O, entitled, quite interestingly "Here's where we're headed with changes". Our reader wrote, "her tone seemed quite condescending to me, it was surprising."

It's not all that surprising. There are a few writers at the O whose opinion I like. Shawn Levy is mostly spot on with his movie reviews. So is Ted Mahar who was put out to pasture a long time ago, yet someone smartly lets us read his take on classics.

We wrote about Randy Gragg and his arrogance - how Portland needs to be rebuilt in his image and likeness.

But the one who makes lots of people giggle, because of his power yet how much he seems to miss the mark is DK Row. I was told that many local artists think that if they got an elephant to pee color on a canvas, he'd do 2000 words. Yet he seems to have missed some important artists that are knocking folks down, like Molly Cliff Hilts, who has foregone the gallery route to become wildly successful and much lauded. Then there's newbies like Laura O'Brien at Open Door, who's imagination has spawned "6 degrees of separation" where the buyers will be connected forever.

I don't envy reviewers, but in a cultural goldmine like Portland, only having one or two great reviewers at our biggest paper sucks.

So Funny I Had to Share

A local TV reporter relayed this story - I took the names out but they know who they are.

They were "on our way to our PM story in Salem last night and on the way we stopped at the Shell/TA truck stop off the Donald exit. After giving the gas station attendant the card to gas up the live truck we both headed inside to pick something up to eat.
On our way back out, the attendant was rushing in to get us with a white faced panic look.
"Ummm...we need you to come outside," he said.
"I think we put the gas in the wrong hole."
Neither (photographer) or I had any idea of what he was talking about. As we rounded the live truck there was an assistant manager on her hands and knees looking at the bottom of the van that's trickling gas from everywhere.
"I just hope we didn't damage anything," she says with the same panicked tone.
We still have no idea what is going on.
The attendant, who told us later it was his first day, then pointed to where he put the gas. Not in the gas tank opening.
He had unscrewed the silver cap that covers the opening leading straight into the interior of the live van. The opening that's used from time to time to run cable from the inside of the truck to the outside.
When it finally hit us what he had done, we ran to the sliding door of the van, whipped it open and gas came dumping out as if it were a flooded basement.
(The photographer) quickly grabbed his/her camera bag that because of its position in the van was actually turned into a makeshift "gas tank". When she/he (began) lifting the camera out at least a gallon of gas splashed out with it.
In his first day jitters, this 16 year-old, managed to pump a little more than 10 gallons into the inside of unit 20.
The fire department was called, the truck became a HazMat scene, thousands of dollars in damage to every piece of equipment inside, including one Jones of New York suit coat. The poor kid sat with his head in his hands...looked up at (the photographer) and said, "Do you think I'm going to have to pay for all of this myself?"
But by far the best statement of the day came from the assistant manager when she asked (the photographer), "How much gas did he pump? Because I won't charge you for that. That's gas is free."

Thanks for sending it in. It's a hoot.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Insider Information

A KGW poster sent me a note saying management lost its second major union grievance when it required reporters working extra weekends to take compensation time during the week, rather than getting overtime.

This stuff happens all the time.

The question is, why do employees let it?

When are you going to start working for the school district or the cop shop as its information czar?

That twice weekly paycheck is pretty nice, but is it worth your dignity?

I never hear about this with the O, WWeek or the Trib. I think its because when you work for the newspaper, you realize you're a reporter on a beat, with things to cover that don't necessarily fit your lifestyle.

People in radio and TV think the other way. Plus, they all want to work M-F, 9-5.

Teresa Burgess, Best Wishes to you

It's confirmed. Meredith Corp. fired the only woman to lead a Portland television station, Teresa Burgess, who ran KPTV and KPDX. She will be replaced in the interim by Paul Karpowicz, who is the head of Meredith Broadcasting Group (got that job in February).

Word is she was fired because her sales team couldn't convert strong numbers in the morning and night into increased revenue and couldn't get sales numbers for UPN - KPDX up. With that, expect a few sales heads to roll. Don't expect any big changes in news, since the corporate folks know they're delivering.

The staff was told, as we know, at 9:30 this morning.

She was much admired in the industry, so expect a follow-up post about her new job (plus she probably walked away with an admirable severance).



It looks like it's happening again. A few years back, OPB dumped it "beloved" production crew, only to hire them back without benefits and guaranteed hours. Most of those people were so dedicated to the product and the work, they toughed it out.

Now, as the O reported this AM, OPB is calling for replacement workers in case of a strike. Funny thing is, the workers haven't even voted to go out. Sounds like another case of "we don't really think you're all that important to us."

Insiders, what's the real story?

Monday, July 11, 2005


Thanks to another insider, I got to peek at the numbers for the July "book" (less than two weeks in) which confirmed what others were saying - but I asked a good friend who's an expert on these and he/she gave me some perspective.

Yes- KPTV's 10pm viewership is larger than KGW's at 11. Channel 8 has no real competition at 11 from KOIN or KATU.

Good Day Oregon has a slight lead from 6a - 7a - the most important local hour in the morning and continues to pummel the Today Show (NBC) from 7 - 9am. Unlike the rest of the country, Good Morning America (ABC) is not doing much here in P-town.

KGW is still winning from 5-7pm, but here's where my friend pointed out something interesting. This is a lousy statistical sample for KGW and doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. The numbers for their early newscasts are on a free fall - which is against all logic for the market. And they don't add up from the last book in May. It looks like the people with Nielsen boxes right now are not KGW watchers and/or, because it's summer, they aren't watching NBC stuff. Even Oprah's not doing much - which is weird considering the press she's getting about her Paris shopping trip. Inside KGW, panic is not happening because they are doubting the sample big time.

If there was a turnover of households with the meters, that could explain it as well.

And then there's the issue of VOD - viewership on demand, which is huge for Comcast customers, people with TIVO and PVR's, etc. Read here what's coming.

KATU, in June and July, has started to pull away from KOIN for sole possession of 2nd place in the early evening newscasts (I can already hear the shouting inside that monolith on Sandy - "We're number two - We're number two). For those who mentioned KOIN bottoming out - they haven't quite gotten there (Ken Boddie and co have the best ratings for news at that station).

Someone noted only KPTV cares about the July book, which isn't really true. It's just looking like they might have something to crow about. And considering all the radio stations that claim they're number one, get ready for the late summer hype.

We Need to Get This Straight...

We've had a number of people who call for "pooling" resources.

Sometimes we do - in courtrooms, some hospital things (interview with a victim, special surgery, etc.), when it's a size (how many reporter/photographer teams in a room) issue, or someone wants to talk to someone but make sure everyone else gets it. When those things happen, phone calls get made, logistics get worked out and everyone gets everything in time. Only on a few occasions in the past did a station or newspaper hold out past deadline, then there were screaming fits, but for the most part, we get along that way. (Want to share those stories?)

Why we won't - we're still trying to beat the pants off of each other, we want to slap the word exclusive on as many stories as we can, we want to be first.

Yes we may look the same during a big story, and show you the same stuff, but if you really watched close enough, you'd see big differences, as we do, in context, reporting and producing styles, graphics, hustle, etc.

The only time everyone shared during a huge story was 9/11 when the networks said, after we show it, you can use it. That would only happen here in extraordinary circumstances.

Only 6 & 12 have shared video arrangements, or did (channel 18 is what insiders called the agreement). We share traffic cameras, thanks to ODOT, but that's it. And that's the way it's likely to stay.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


We love watching bad weather.

Where we live, despite all the complaining from those smarter than us, bad weather stories make our ratings rise into the stratosphere. We get thousands of new viewers who need to know about that windstorm, where the snow is going to hit, and when the rain's gonna stop.

No matter what we do, no matter how trite (Sylvan Hill, Troutdale), we keep 'em rivited.

So why do people complain when we do what we do best - showing what's outside? How do we improve, and, more importantly, how can we take advantage of the huge jump in viewership to show how good we can be?

Friday, July 08, 2005

An Apology

I blew it. Clear and simple. It was stupid and elitist and wrong.

When I sent the last post I wanted to get a sample of thoughts hoping to get some response on what I want to change in our newsrooms. You see, my bosses think KPTV is the cats meow. I don't.

That said, I wrote a pretty shitty thing about education and income that I should have thought through clearer. And I was rightfully skewered for it. I do hate the fact that we pick stories without thinking about helping our audience learn about the world - how we don't reflect our region (which is not really crime ridden). This is a cool place to live and work and it does has the usual urban problems. It's not wrong that Fox12 does what it does (we all do in some form) - they are finding an audience. And it's working for them. It's not good work, but it's working for them - they have buzz and, clearly, very loyal employees and managers dedicated to keeping it going.

That aside, I apologize for things I wrote about the audience. I will work hard in our meetings to find the stories that might make their lives better - not trying to scare them all the time.

Let's move on.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Next Posts

I received a number of emails today asking for us to discuss a few issues:

  • The quandry that is KPTV's 10pm News - it gets decent numbers yet it is appalling to many people - why is it and why don't the folks making decisions there care - especially since real research is likely to show they cannot attract a quality audience (educated, real consumers)? This is not to say they don't have good demos - they do well with the 25-49 crowd, but I'm guessing very few of them have education or wealth. I'm sure my favorite pro-KPTV poster will be the first to dive in to tell me I'm wrong. I'm okay with that - show me the numbers - they're public here in Portland. Where do your viewers live and work? Especially the ones that are there at 10:30, not coming out of your great lead-ins.

  • Reviewers - I wrote about the food reviewer at the WWeek and the fire she lit in the restaurant industry. A fan of Portland theater was put off by the WWeek critic who said goodbye and talked about theater here very negatively. Was he right, and doesn't he have the right to say that?

  • Phil Busse - he's made some pretty prominent mistakes, yet he seems to not be in any danger of losing his job. Why is that? Does his boss not care, or does he/she think Phil brings attention and readers, even when he fucks up royally. Like Clinton and Lewinsky.

Dive in.

A Question

Since the NY Times reporter Judith Miller sits in jail for trying to protect her source on the Valerie Plame outing, and since you know my position about revealing sources, I was curious:

Many non-journalists (I assume) posted thoughts that said no one was above the law. And now that Karl Rove seems to have had his hand in this, and may be complicit, and could be facing jail himself, I wanted to know:

We're those of you siding with the judge expressing thoughts because you wanted to see someone in this White House go down for this crime, or because you don't believe we in the news business have an absolute right to protect anonymous sources?

I await responses from all sides.

To make it clear, I think when you promise anonymity on a story, you give anonymity, even if it means jail.

Mea Culpa???

Another front page headline for the O (still limping out of its internet problem) about the Blazers' new head coach. It's not the pick they announced last month and nothing in the article about that wrong call.

Will there be another public editor article about missing the big story? Didn't see the name Iavaroni in either the lead story or in Canzano's piece.

One correspondent (that's what we'll call emailers to pdxmediawatch at said that only KGW lead its newscast with the story, wondering if the local stations are so done with the Blazers. I saw something on Fox Sports Northwest with Lenny Wilkins talking about it and something on the ESPN ticker - SportsCenter was focused on the pitcher who took on TV news photographers.

Now the team will introduce the new coach at the Washington Park Rose Garden (not the Rose Garden Arena, which they don't own anymore) at 4:30p. I'm guessing they wanted un-challenged access to live coverage on the 5pm news, but that's gone now because of the horrible tragedy in London.

Back to the O. I'd like to hear from insiders about how the sports section gets that egg off its face.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

They hate each other, but...

Many folks thought it classless that Phil Busse of the Mercury tried to derail Willamette Week's successful application for a Pulitzer. Portland Communique wrote a great piece on this back in April (read it with comments here).

Then Busse slipped on a huge banana peel by writing a review for a restaurant that hadn't open yet, and WWeek took him to task for it.

So how odd they both did the same story in the same week. Mercury first.

I'll bet Hank Stern was screaming when he saw the story (assuming he scans the competition) and was hoping for a last minute something to kill the planned cover.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fire in the Hole

Visitors to Oregon Live today got to read this:

Welcome to Due to a power failure we're experiencing technical difficulties. Full service will be resumed as soon as possible. We expect to have all of The Oregonian's content and archives available tomorrow. --

One of our readers tells me it was a fire in New Jersey - so much for locally run.

Another reader wrote in today to tell us about the new look for Vancouver's Columbian newspaper website, which is very appealing. I'm also liking the new look of Salem's Statesman Journal's website, especially the section for Education.

Today's incident shows how Oregon's largest daily may have lots to crow about, but its website is, as Niedermeyer said in Animal House, "worthless and weak."

Update at KOIN

Anchors and reporters narrowly defeated a vote to unionize. 10 votes for, 11 votes against.

Last month, photographers, editors and technicians voted to join a union.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day

From my files (from a friend):

The folks at KOIN are spending this 4th away from the nut (former news director) who wrote this memo back in January. It's one of many I'll pass on from time to time that are just funny.

You will undoubtedly notice that all of the monitors throughout our newsroom have been tuned to KOIN News 6.
No Channel 8.
No Channel 4.
No Channel 12.
No station has even become "the best" by watching its competitors. You get better by watching your own newscasts and working together to make them clear, complete and "to the point". So in that spirit, I expect these monitors to stay glued to KOIN News 6. And that also holds true for the small monitors at your desks.
I also encourage you to ONLY watch KOIN News 6 at home (for your local news). What will that do? Well among many things, it will change your focus inward, allowing you to know what "we have already reported" and "how we can forward a story", instead of being preoccupied with what someone else may have done.

Wondered how he was going to monitor their home viewing.

Just so you all know, KOIN put all the monitors back to the other stations when Managing Editor (still there) John (Taco) Bell came into the newsroom and said something like, "what is this bullshit."

Sometimes life is funnier than art.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I pulled down an optimistic post from Saturday after Matal Sanchez was found dead and his step-grandmother charged. I was hoping the weekend would see a happier ending.

The post praised the restraint and solid coverage in all Portland media - one based on facts and a sense of urgency.

Its conclusion reminds me of the time when I and many colleagues think Portland TV news took a fateful turn - the weekend when police searched and discovered the bodies of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis. The wall-to-wall coverage was embarrassing and un-professional as reporters from every station speculated and, most disappointingly, interviewed every Tom, Jason and Hillary that was willing to come up to the microphone. News managers were most complicit as they pushed their teams to get everyone on camera who wanted - adding nothing to the understanding of the terrible and complex story - just a window into how people are drawn to coverage like moths.

The exclaimation point came when Anna Song spoke at the memorial service for the girls - a line we all thought she crossed. Her boss came to her defense after much public (LA Times, the O) criticism, but she was wrong. To her defense, it wasn't anything Anna did for publicity or to further the cause of KATU - she got close to the story. Too close for some. Anna is a good woman and serious about her work. It was a tough call but it added to the pile that created what many see today and what many of us struggle to call our craft.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ch-ch-ch Changes - again

We're hearing rumours of some job changes in the media and PIO's around the region, based around the new fiscal year for some (July 1), but we're having a hard time tracking things down.

What have you heard?

Food for Thought

A reader alerted me to a very interesting web site that, for me, asks a great question - okay, the question is mine - what happens when a reviewer says what she/he really thinks about a product? When it has an effect on those reviewed, what should they do? How should they react?

Read under the titles "The Emperor Has No Clothes!" and "The Emperor Has No Clothes! Part 2"

Has interesting threads regarding a review of a downtown restaurant, the reaction by the owner and chef, and attempts to put economic pressure on the reviewer's paper.

What do you think?