Thursday, September 29, 2005

KOIN Sold - What's Next

KOIN TV is now the property of something called SJL Broadcast Management.

From the Emmis memo to employees:

The purchase covers KOIN-TV (Ch. 6, CBS affiliate) in Portland, Ore.; KHON-TV (Ch. 2, Fox affiliate) in Honolulu; KSNW-TV (Ch. 3, NBC affiliate) in Wichita, Kan.; and KSNT-TV (Ch. 27, NBC affiliate) in Topeka, Kan., and is subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory authorities.

As far as I've been able to find out, the new owner has a number of small stations - there is no corporate website that I can find (which will fit right in with KOIN's anemic one). They have been in broadcasting for a long while, buying and selling stations (almost looking like a broker) in a number of markets like Buffalo and San Luis Obispo.

I see them in Lancaster, PA, Billings, MT, Johnstown, PA, Binghampton, NY and other small cities- not exactly powerhouse markets.

It's gotta be better than Emmis, insiders tell me, but there is a lot of worry. Will they have to carry the corporation, considering Portland is market 23. And what will the new owners make of the union situation awaiting them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Media Notes

There has been a lot of criticism about "fair and balanced" coverage of the weekend protests in Washington. There was an anti-war group and a pro-Bush group. A number of people writing in the Washington Post, NY Times and Oregonian are complaining that the pro-Bush rally got equal play. How do you balance the two? With the hurricanes, this was just a blip on the radar.

There is a lot written by the right about the demise of Air America radio. What's the real truth? The folks at KPOJ are getting rich off AAR.

And following the KATU thread, we always knew going in that family would have to understand what we do for a living, but there has to be some give and take. What's happening at other stations or papers that you might call family or un-family friendly?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bits and Pieces

  • KPTV has a new General Manager to replace the uber talented Teresa Burgess. He is Kieran Clarke, formerly of Portland's WB station. Staffers are telling me two things about Mr. Clarke - there is some concern about the fact that he just inked a deal with KGW to produce a newscast that competes with his (now) own 10 O'Clock news. They wonder how Meredith managers felt about that. There are also people who note his passion for news, so he'll continue to be supportive of their (so far) winning efforts there.
  • KATU staffers are scratching their heads about priorities, as a well liked producer was recently challenged by News Director Mike Rausch to decide what he valued most, his wife or working extra hours. The producer chose his wife and is now looking for work.
  • As the Oregonian noted, the Blazers have new broadcast teams. Wonder how the former Blazer Antonio Harvey will work with the ultra-homer Brian Wheeler on radio? I was sorry to see Ann Schatz move on, because I thought she brought enthusiasm and real knowledge to the broadcasts. She is working with the new College Sports Television network, which we hear may be cannabalized by ESPN some day. Either way, it's a win for her.
  • Finally, don't know what to make of the leaner Tribune, which is running longer pieces in contrast to O-HD. People are wondering if the final issue is a few days away, rather than weeks or months. And what's with all the sports stories on the front page?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The New O

My two cents -

I agree that it feels like I'm being lead around like I'm a kid learning how to read. And all those lines! I guess we couldn't figure out the columns by ourselves.

I think that for all they would like it to be, all it feels like is something an art director from the 80's would design (in fact, I have an old Oregonian that I kept from the 80's and it looks the same). And they abandoned it because they decided they weren't USA Today.

The O section is just all the other non hard news segments smashed into one section. I didn't see anything really new - just repackaged.

It's just okay. And for all the hype, is okay okay?

Now for my real disappointment. No change to OregonLive. That would have spoken volumes. Sure there are a few more blogs from writers and reviewers, but it would have been a great time for a makeover. I hope someone from the O or OL writes to tell me that it was in the works but they correctly backed off to give all the support they could to the Times-Picayune.

And I thank Shawn Levy (who I think is one of the best) for promoting this site as Truly vicious Portland media gossip.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Oregonian HD

While I create the new site, let's speculate (or add real insider insight) on how different the Oregonian and Oregon Live will be this time next week.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Few Updates

The Tribune last Friday wrote about the new 10pm news partnership between KGW and Portland's WB. The article went on about new morning newscasts for KPTV - extending the Good Day Oregon brand to seven days.
What it didn't say was that many people working in the stations production department are being absorbed into news (never a good thing for them), and that Good Day Lifestyles is being cannibalized. Some people have been told (not asked) to take huge pay cuts. And the station will look to hire a number of part-time employees to work short assignments on weekends (and any other time they call). I suspect a number of new workers will answer the call, then we'll hear stories about mistreatment and lack of respect for personal time. Always happens.

The Oregonian's "High Definition News" plan is starting to leak out. It doesn't appear to be a major multi-media, cross platform effort, with independent video/picture pieces on the website (like larger papers do), but a continuation of what we're seeing now - an expanded Metro section, and each section being treated as a "separate entity". There will be fewer long form stories and more attention to the "pace" of each edition, whatever that means in newspaper lingo.

On the ground Katrina reporting has come from the Oregonian, KPTV, KATU and KGW. KOIN's new weathercaster Jeff Baskin is here and has shown satellite photos of his former flooded and off-the-air station in New Orleans. KOIN employees are wondering why they aren't in the Gulf, considering the parent company sent an all-call out to employees willing to help that station get back on the air (there's been no follow up to the original request).

KATU starts its new 4:30pm newscast soon with no real planning, other than how many stories reporters have to file, no new hires for the program, that it will have more national, and that it's unlikely to be really different or aimed at a different audience. Deborah Knapp is the anchor. There will be a news "ticker" on screen, so get your glasses out. This comes at a time when the newsroom is being remodeled and everyone is having to learn new technology.

Monday, September 05, 2005


We have been living with Katrina for over a week now. I have never seen anything like it.

The coverage has been great and awful, both on a local level and what we've seen from national newspapers, the "mainstream" media and on line.

Some observations:

Here in Portland, it was a hard story to cover because it was so far away and it came near the end of August and early September, when newsrooms start to empty for the last shot at a summer vacation. The O had a crew on the ground in Houston for a football game but seemed to not communicate well because it took a day for them to start writing about the mass exodus. They had lots of reporters to tell that story but the priority for the crew was the game.

Local TV has started to send crews or rely on national and regional feeds to "localize" the story, but we never faced a national disaster where we couldn't just plug into a power pole or spend the night in a local motel. That changed the rules. Like September 11th, our local stations were irrellevant. The stories and the images from the networks, national and cable, were so compelling that anytime we tried to interject it seemed pointless and almost disrespectful. It wasn't our story.

The NO Times-Picayune showed how a newspaper with no street or home delivery options continued to bravely tell a story in its own backyard. If that's not worth a Pulitzer, I don't know what is. When we get some space there will be a lot written about the worth of the printed page, and the future of on-line organized journalism.

I agree with an old friend who said that watching the story on TV, before during and after, was like watching storm coverage here - lots of obvious observations about what was in front of you, but very little depth or perspective. I think most of the reporters on screen had great experience talking about weather - they probably all had their storm coverage stripes - but knew very little about the region, its residents, or how to talk about a disaster in real terms. They should have just shut up and let their pictures do the work.

We also learned that we still don't know how to talk about race and income. The tiff about the photo and looting and borrowing showed that. We should have a national conversation about that.

And it's likely that Katrina will overshadow Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica and all the government scandals of our age. There's something bigger out there about how the storm did the damage it did, how we'll rebuild a great city, how the government responded (or didn't), and what the role of the President is in a situation like this.

I don't remember the name of any of the hurricanes that blew through the past in the recent past. I will never forget Katrina.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

High Definition, Low Expectations

I opened my morning Oregonian today to find dozens of stories about the aftermath of Katrina, which I'd already read or seen yesterday. It's not the fault of the O, or any newspaper that they cannot compete now with the internet or TV on a story like this. All they can do is add perspective. I liked the opinion piece about N.O. music in oped.

What cooked me this morning, and worries me about the new sports editor and his vision was today's front page of the sports section.

A nice looking banner about THE OPENING DAY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON FOR AN OREGON SCHOOL. I emphasize that because I don't care if it's Oregon or Oregon State - opening day is a big story and should have a front page piece. Instead, those stories were tucked inside. Back to the front page - John Canzano in Houston, I'm guessing for the game, writes about Damon Stoudamire (we needed to read this?). I would have thought he would have been assigned to do a piece on the aging Astrodome called into help in relief efforts, if he was not going to write a piece about the Oregon-Houston game. Norm Maves (a great guy) writes about the P$U-O$U game (Saturday!), there's a story about N.O. sports teams below the fold (good) and A HUGE PICTURE and accompanying story about the who cares Seattle Mariners.

If you're looking to lose sports readers, you gave a great show today. And I'm a Cal fan!

I'm guessing HD news really means Huh, Duh?