Sunday, October 02, 2005

Working in TV

A good questions has been asked:

Why would someone who values good journalism, wants to participate in a community's conversation and/or wants to be part of a team of hard working people, continue working in local TV news - considering what it is now in Portland.

We know it's not always awful, that our bosses and owners aren't always idiots or out to get us or cut us from the payroll.

On our best days we can show people what is happening in our world, or expose things that are a threat. At our worst, we focus too much attention on people or events that have little to do with anyone's daily lives.

So why are we doing this?

I did it because I got to see the country and move to one of the best places in the US.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 2:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Dean Barron said...

Many of us got into the business of TV news many years ago. My desire to be a photojournalist grew from a love of still photography acquired at a summer camp between my sophomore and junior year in high school. I joined the Centennial HS newspaper and yearbook staffs, and developed a burning passion to go into the news business.For me, it was 1971 and 16mm Film was the medium of the day. My first TV job was processing film at KGW, in the KING Film Lab. While at Channel 8 my supervisor took note of my interest and sponsored my week at the KODAK Newsfilm Workshop in Seattle in 1970. I left the lab in late 1970. I received an internship at KOIN during my second year at Mt. Hood Community College, and was hired full-time at KOIN in April of 1971.

I loved everything about working in Portland TV news. The people, the stories, the station, and most of all, the opportunity to learn about my home town, first-hand. In grade school my two favorite subjects were Show-and-Tell and field trips. A tv news photographer gets to do both every day. What better career fulfillment can you get!

Throughout my career, there have been many times when things got tough, and I thought about changing directions. I even took an break in 1977, and went to work in PR for a Bible college in Denver, CO., but even then I worked at the campus radio station, and yearned to get back into the biz after about six months.

When I returned to KOIN in 1978, we still were shooting film, but the stories were shorter, and we had begun to transition to 3/4" tape and microwave vans. The advances in technology only served to restore my enthusiasm for remaining in TV news, and the oppportunity to break the traditional time barriers created by the need to process film were soon gone forever.

I believe the golden years for Portland TV were the 1980's, with Mt. St. Helens and the beginnings of helicopter wars, when no story was too distant--I went to China with Judy Rooks in 1986 on a trade mission with Gov. Atiyeh, and another crew went to Saudi Arabia the following summer. The competition between the stations was strong, and the viewers were rewarded with comprehensive coverage, augmented by nightly feature programs, live PM Magazine and KATU's, Faces and Places.

The 1990's brought more competition and the Flood of '96. LIVE was the order of the day, and the addition of Satellite techology meant stories could be covered and turned the same day from anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. There were almost no limits to what local stations could cover. Fisher and KING had Washington, D.C. bureaus, and KOIN used a freelance company to cover national stories with local impacts.

As the new millineum dawned, the competition for advertising dollars reached a frantic pace. Stations began to tighten belts as advertisers found other ways to reach their target audiences, who were turning more and more to cable, satellite, and the internet for daily news. Everyone now understands that the devastation of 9/11 wasn't simply limited to folks on the east coast. The ripple effect throughout the U.S. economy has restrained investors at all levels from spending any more than necessary to operate broadcast stations. The bottom line has become the Bottom Line.

TV news is a linear medium. You must sit down and watch a block, segment or complete program to get the news. There is far more pressure to cover more stories in less time, while trying to build an audience of desirable demographics, without incurring massive expenses in the process. We have more tools than ever--graphics, live technology, computer-aided newsrooms, editing, and programming. Our viewers have less time to spend with us than ever before-- and they are fickle. They want the news now, they want it told in a concise manner, and they want it to be relevant. A tall order, for sure. The question is, are we up to the challenge. It is a staggering one. It requires commitment, dedication, talent and perseverance. It's a lot like work. Not for the faint of heart, the lazy, or glamor hounds. Some of us are better at it than others. In the end, tv news may be replaced by another technology or format. The good news is people have a burning desire to know what's happening. We fill that need. And as long as it is feasible and profitable to do so, I want to be a part of it.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 4:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about your ego baby!

Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I know you aren't a journalist, otherwise you wouldn't have a let a statement like:

"A good questions has been asked"

I would have expected some better english from a member of the journalism community.

Oh, and didn't the helicopter wars not start until the 90's?

Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please 6:07:39pm... knock it off. You obviously know everything, so start your own blog and let us know where to find it, Sal.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 6:07:39 PM

You should take a second look at your comment.


Feel like a jerk now Mr. Grammar-Pants?

Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

seriously 6:07:39 no one wants you here

Sunday, October 02, 2005 7:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your comments are the most articulate and thoughtful I've seen on this blog. Thank you.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, Dean - thanks for the synopsis of your work history and a recap of Portland TV News. We value photogs like you who've been around, paid your dues, and know all the shortcuts to get across the city at rush hours. Keep up the good work!

Sunday, October 02, 2005 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous just a photographer said...

The first chopper wars started in the 80's. They returned in the 90's, with better cameras. And they are a very powerful tool for helping us see what's going on in our world.
People want to know why they were stuck on the freeway, what is that big black cloud of smoke, is it harmful to me, how close are the forest fires. Complain all you want about the "corporate media" (and believe me, the street reporters complain just as much as viewers) but
who else are you going to get so much information so fast from? And I love being part of it too. Ego? Sure, who doesn't want to be a super hero. When you are given an assignment that seems like an impossible task, and you get it on the air at 5, it's a good feeling. Better still when it's a good piece. That doesn't always happen, but that's what we all try to do. I am very lucky to work in tv news, I get to meet interesting people, whether famous or not famous, get in places I wouldn't otherwise get to see, and try to show other people what I've seen. It seems though now we are the devil incarnate to most people. I see incredible faces of hate spewing venom directed at me, which remind me of other pictures of hate I've seen in other times. I can understand disagreement, but not the hate. My bosses want me to work long hours for as little pay as possible, in as dangerous of positions as possible, without complaint. They hate "high maintenence" employees. I feel threatened every day if I speak up. But despite all that, I still love my job. I still get to do a good job every now and then, despite all, and that keeps me going.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Will Morris said...

I’d just like to take a minute to counter the trolls and say that this is one of my favorite blogs. I’m not an industry person, but I am a Portland native who has always been very concerned about the quality of local news. While I’m at least as exasperated with the lack of journalism in the Portland area as many of the trolls who post here, it gives me hope to see the industry people coming to this site and expressing their hopes, fears, and frustrations. I find this fascinating. Keep up the good work PDXMediaWatcher.

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dean of the good guys at KOIN.

Dean, never worry about the safety of jour job. The new owners will welcome your talent and commitment.

Monday, October 03, 2005 8:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad everyone involved in Portland news isn't as intellegent, creative, and dedicated as Dean Barron! The fact is that a large number of photogs in this city are much more competent than the reporters they're shooting for! And before you ask, no, I am NOT a fact I'm not even in the news biz.

Monday, October 03, 2005 8:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's move on please......

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you?

Monday, October 03, 2005 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought maybe it was Dave Flanigan who posted? Not to take any thing away from the esteemable Dean Baron!

Monday, October 03, 2005 7:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Femcasters, Colored Bars, KATU Jr High, The KOIN Newsletter, The "No Fun" sign, Horst Mager and the KOIN Kitchen, The Radical Femnist Hygiene Coalition, Telecopter Six,

Monday, October 03, 2005 8:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will somebody please tell me wtf this post is about?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

Dean Barron's comments are right on...then again, he holds two titles of superiority in his name so I'm not suprised.
I'm so over this business. Like most things governed by the bottom line and corporate strongholding it's lost relevance, creativeness,
and my interest. I'm ready to do something else.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 3:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...then again, he holds two titles of superiority in his name so I'm not suprised...."

This, by the way, is the single wittiest thing I've read on this blog, and I've read every post ever

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 5:16:00 PM  
Blogger MaxxPenn said...

Evolve with the changing times or get out. Learn to edit on non-linear because it's the way of the future. Learn HTML because you'll end up posting stuff on the web someday.

Don't sit on your A$$ and expect the world to stay the same. Take a look at what is happening at bigger markets and realize THAT is what's going to come down the pipe.

Working in NEWS sucks. And it has for the past 15 years I've worked in it. BUT it's been good to me in a lot of ways, because I've learned to adapt my skills (no not ALL are up to par).

Just don't sit there in this small market (yes Portland) and pout, because there are a lot of jobs out there that suck worse than this one. Not many, but fish-guttting might beat it out for SUCK factor.

If I had a dime for every Portland or Vancouver media person who talks about the good old days, I'd be RICH. This market bites for the most part.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 1:27:00 PM  
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