In between playing with TiVo and not having my Powerbook around, I’ve not paid much attention to the news the last few days. So, having just gotten to reading the paper, let me point out a few interesting tidbits:
There’s in interesting article in today’s Washington Post detailing a centralized news operation by media conglomerate Sinclair. The central studio provides news and weather for far flung stations. Viewers don’t even realize that their weather man is off in Maryland:
“We look to newspapers and TV stations as the most basic sources of information about a community,” says Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a longtime Washington communications lawyer. “You’re not going to find out who’s running for mayor or city council from the cable networks or even the Internet. And they [Sinclair executives] are degrading that localism.”
Schwartzman acknowledges that he hasn’t seen a News Central broadcast. But he says it’s an outgrowth of growing corporate ownership of the news media: “This is what happens when you have local media controlled by national companies that don’t have any roots in the community. Sinclair not only isn’t local, it’s supplanting the people who are.”
Says Deborah Potter, the executive director of Newslab, a Washington nonprofit that trains TV journalists, “When you eliminate the local forecaster for someone on tape who’s coming in on computer, you’re eliminating community values — the immediacy and local connection. This is a recipe, if not for disaster, than for leaving viewers with a very misleading impression. I think they’re eventually going to figure it out.”
… With limited reporting resources of its own, News Central mostly repackages national and international footage from outside news sources like the Associated Press and CNN. When it ventures into the field to do its own reporting, the field tends to be close to Hunt Valley. A spokesman for the Baltimore chapter of the ACLU, for example, was a key interview for a recent story about abortion. DeFeo says News Central will expand its reach by opening a Washington bureau within a few weeks.
On the other hand, every News Central broadcast features commentary, a species virtually extinct on local TV news these days. They all include “The Point,” a one-minute editorial by Mark Hyman (who, though viewers may be unaware, also happens to be Sinclair’s chief corporate spokesman). Although David Smith says Hyman’s perspective is one of “common sense,” most of Hyman’s “points” seem to be the conservative kind — taxes are too high, government is too big, etc. DeFeo, News Central’s top executive, say he intends to put alternative opinions on the air as well.
There’s also an editorial about media consolidation.
Oh, was there an alert?
Evidently, the terror alert was lowered yesterday back to yellow. This continued up and down action really shows the folly of such a system – the short attention span of Americans. That’s a knife that cuts both ways: that short attention span is what is keeping Bush’s popularity ratings high because people have already forgotten his ridiculous and disproven claims for war with Iraq, his previous tax cut that failed to stimulate the economy, his ineptitude of… well, never mind. All that is past. We’ve forgotten. As for the orange alert, did anyone even realize we were under one?
A Baseball Boondoggle
A high-powered consortium of developers and rich idiots is pushing a proposal to build a baseball stadium here in Arlington, Virginia, the smallest jurisdiction in the area. There’s simply no place to put one, and the traffic would be of nightmarish proportions. But dammit, they want baseball. Two things: we haven’t had baseball in my lifetime and I think it’s time they just moved on with their lives. We have football, basketball, hockey, soccer… just deal with it.
Second, this is not Field of Dreams. Just because you tear down buildings and put a huge, expensive ball park in a small neighborhood, they do not come.
There’s always something to be annoyed about when I read the paper. I think I’ll return to the living room and bask in the blue glow of TiVo’s suggestions. TiVo knows how to make me relax. TiVo is my one true friend. TiVo loves me. Mmmm, TiVo…