Friday, October 30, 2009

Radio Host Sileo Suspended -- For Being Wrong or for Biting Feeding Hand?

A Tampa radio station suspended its morning host for reporting a story about the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. WDAE-AM host Dan Sileo claimed that the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, had lost $475-million in Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme and might be forced to sell the team because of it.

Listen to it here: WDAE-620 AM audio clip, posted by the St. Petersburg Times on its website when it reported Sileo's suspension.

The team issued a statement flatly denying all of Sileo's claims, including that the team was for sale and that the Glazers had invested with Madoff. "The report is baseless, irresponsible and slanderous," the statement said. "This type of behavior by Mr. Sileo and his company Clear Channel will be dealt with in the appropriate manner."

Sure enough, later yesterday, the station issued a retraction of Sileo's story still prominently displayed on the homepage of its website today.

WDAE Homepage RetractionClick Image for Larger Version

And what say would the team have over what a radio station reports? WDAE is the flagship station for the Buccaneer Radio Network, a designation that WDAE's owner, Clearchannel, wrested away from WQYK back when the Bucs used to win games and their radio contract was a coveted property.

Was Sileo suspended because of his story's subject or because he apparently got its facts wrong? Believe it or not, screwing up a story is not illegal, provided that you report it in good faith believing it to be true. Dan Sileo is not a reporter, he's a talk radio host -- and not a very good one of those for my money -- but he enjoys the same protections a reporter does.

But I wonder: Could the Glazers have dictated how "Mr. Sileo will be dealt with" if WDAE were not the team's radio broadcast partner. Would Clearchannel have issued such a public retraction and suspended Sileo so quickly?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Titillation for Ratings?

Ah, ratings sweeps periods. Those times when stations pull out all the stops to lure viewers. Or in this case, take off all the tops. WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., offers this special report demonstrating with graphic detail how a woman does a breast self exam, nipples and all.

Remember, you are not to watch the video embedded below for any reasons of prurient interest. You are to watch only out of your concern for saving lives from a horrible disease. Or to judge the journalistic merits of such a story.

Unlike me.

Here is the link to the text version of the story, which I am certain you will want to read to get more details.

The video is informative, without a doubt, probably even to people who have breasts. I am equally sure that public education was not the primary reason for doing that story.

Do noble ends justify less altruistic motives?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

She Shall Return

A couple people have found this blog by Googling Meredyth Censullo. She is the vacation averse traffic reporter on WFTS-TV for whom I very occasionally fill in.

One of those occasions was this month when she went on her honeymoon. She's back, still happily married ('cause a week on a boat with someone can change one's view), and returns to work full-time Monday morning.

She actually returned last week but had training at the station Thursday and Friday. The station is training all of its newsroom employees to work solo as Multi-Media Journalists.

Using small JVC cameras that cost about $3,500 and record on SDHC memory cards, the station will have someone report, shoot and write a story, edit it on a Mac laptop with Final Cut Pro video editing software and upload the video back to the station — all by him or herself.

This is something that more stations, even in larger cities now, are trying as a way to cut costs without losing content. WUSA-TV in Washington, DC switched completely to one person news crews last year. WUSA's owner, Gannett, also owns WTSP here in Tampa Bay. That station has a few MMJs but still uses mostly two-person crews.

It's not new to me. All the stories I've posted here that I did for, I shot, wrote, narrated and edited myself with my own equipment. I also shot and edited all the pieces I reported between 2005 and 2009 for the Dodge Sports Report, a high school sports show that aired on the state-wide Sun Sports network here in Florida.

Before that I produced several short documentary films after I bought my first digital video camera in 2003. Let's not forget the one-man-banding, as we used to call it, I did in my first small market job from 1988-1991.

I was MMJ before MMJ was cool.

But, anyway, if you wondered what happened to Meredyth, nothing did. I mean nothing other than getting married, which I grant is a fair distance from nothing but I think you get what I meant. She shall return to her regularly scheduled program and I shall return to a normal sleep schedule.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Medically Necessary?

I'm having a colonoscopy Monday. When I called my insurance company to find out what the co-pay would be, the customer service rep asked if the procedure was medically necessary.

"No, ma'am. This is for fun. I'm having a recreational colonoscopy."

OK, I didn't actually say that. And if you think about it, insurance companies give it to you up the rectum as a routine practice so the question is not as ridiculous as it sounds.

Yes, I know: You're still thinking, as any normal person would, "Medically necessary? Are you kidding? Why else would anyone undergo that procedure — especially the two days of starvation mixed with the intentional overdose of laxatives necessary beforehand?"**

Because insurance company customer service reps are not normal people — they have sticks where their colons would be — I had to explain that the procedure was ordered by my doctor to help him pay his children's tuition at Duke University.

**Now you know how my weekend is shaping up. Want to join me? I have a refrigerator full of fruit juices, Gatorade and root beer. We'll make it a party! Just stay out of my stash of magnesium citrate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm Lazy

No, I didn't forget to blog. I didn't forget that I even had a blog. I, as the title more than suggests, have simply been too lazy to write.

Good morning from the studios of WFTS-TV, Ch. 28, in Tampa, where as far as I know typing this does not violate the station's computer policy. The station has a Facebook page and numerous Twitter pages, including @tampabaytraffic, which I am charged with updating when I'm here, so I know the station uses social media. I don't know if something as old school as what blogs have become still counts.

I am in the midst of a nine day stretch filling in for the station's morning traffic reporter, Meredyth Censullo, who is honeymooning in the Mediterranean.

(Pause to congratulate myself for correctly spelling Mediteranean.)

My performance has not been flawless but I have not committed any gaffes worthy of YouTube infamy. This, despite rustiness from little on air work since leaving WTSP in April and the crushing fatigue that waking at 3:20 a.m. causes.

That's when I get to sleep even that late. I awoke at 2:22 a.m. today to the sounds of the cat hacking up a fur ball. That's the second time in a week Annie has made sure that even the paltry four to five hours of sleep I get will not come uninterrupted.

(Pause to congratulate myself for correctly spelling uninterrupted.)

(Pause again to consider that I better double check that because I see that Internet Explorer doesn't spell check like Firefox does.)

(Pause one more time to breathe a sigh of relief that I had not congratulated myself incorrectly, thus rendering myself even more of a doofus that I do already for congratulating myself for spelling.)

I'm not going to worry about whether I have spelled doofus correctly.

Where was I? Right. Talking about cat barf. You probably welcomed the digression. I'm glad that it's only hairballs she's coughing up. The little pretty kitty seemed bonier than I remembered when I returned from my recent trip but she has been eating well and keeping the food down. I'll have to work more hairball control food into her diet.

I have made slow progress on the family documentary story I've been editing. Fifteen of 16 chapters are complete. A couple of them are up on, including Chapter One, which is on the home page. The other is the first video you see on the "Watch Our Work" page.

Once I finish the last chapter I have to edit the prologue, which is video I shot of the subjects working their vending tables at Clearwater Pier. I shot that video more than a year ago so despite having a list of the shots, I'm going to have to go back and look through the footage again to see what I have.

The story is coming together well but I need to get some more photographs to better illustrate the story and it might need music in some places.

First, I finish work here and go home for a nap.