News At The Speed Of Internet

On Twitter itself I saw someone complain Fox News and CNN had dropped the ball. I guess he was expecting them to have crews standing by in Tallahassee in case anything ever happened at midnight.

There’s a new boss in breaking news.

CNN is on with news from Tallahassee. People have been shot in the FSU library.

CNN didn’t break this story. I first got the news on Twitter. That’s becoming more rule than exception.

FSUShootingInternal640Florida State’s original tweet about a DANGEROUS SITUATION caught fire! News like this explodes through social media. It becomes unavoidable.

Meanwhile, it’s still the traditional news sources we turn to once we get the tipoff. That’s why the TV went on. But their resources pale in comparison to crowd sourcing. Right now it’s social media CNN is relying on!

I saw someone complain Fox News and CNN had dropped the ball. I guess he was expecting them to have crews standing by in Tallahassee in case anything ever happened at midnight.

There’s a new boss in breaking news.

Tonight In Ferguson

The “fog of battle” is in evidence here. What was reported as tear gas is now corrected to smoke.


I am watching a potential riot unfold live on television, or whatever it’s called when you watch CNN on a laptop. Do I really want technology to bring me this close? It is raw and real and happening too fast.

The “fog of battle” is in evidence here. What was reported as tear gas is now corrected to smoke&#185.

I am sympathetic to the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson. I’m at a loss to explain how breaking tonight’s curfew does anyone any good? All the points that can be made have been made.

The young man will not come back. Justice will take a long time working its way through a system that’s inconsistent. The lives of those involved will never be the same.

The people of Ferguson and many others have legitimate complaints.

&#185 – An hour later it changes back to tear gas, reported as confirmed by police.

The CNN Conundrum

define  conundrum   Google Search

CNN has been on top of the MH370 story since the plane’s disappearance. In the mind of some, they’ve been on top of it too much. I’m in that camp.

Because there’s more time to fill than there’s story, CNN has to reach into its vat of Newsroom Helper.

Why have a person speculate when you can have a gaggle of people speculate! Martin Savidge is in Canada (his home and native land), flying a 777 simulator. Tom Foreman has been standing in front of virtual props. Theories area pondered which contain two or more “what if”s.

A nameless friend just emailed.

“When I saw a ridiculous show answering tweets, I was wondering if Ted should die, turn over in his grave, then come back to life and beg TW to sell CNN back to him.”

cnn-hd-logo-png-skI should have mentioned… the numbers are up. They’re way up.

What should CNN do?

TV is an unusual business. The actual product, news, isn’t sold. What’s sold is access to the audience.

The newsroom is supported by a business. Without the business, there’s no newsroom.

People working in newsrooms often forget this. Maybe that’s for the better.

CNN has been hurting the past few years. First Fox News, then MSNBC left them behind. All of a sudden CNN is on the move. (Wednesday’s ratings at the end of this entry.)

Even I, who has kvetched about this before, finds it difficult to look away. Shame on me.

When CNN began it was primarily a news channel. Times and audiences have forced them to change. Now it’s information, some of which is news.

None of this makes me happy. Why CNN is doing it is understandable. I’m not sure they have a choice.

  • Total day: FNC: 314 | MSNBC: 133 | CNN: 201 | HLN: 97
  • Primetime: FNC: 470 | MSNBC: 245 | CNN: 296 | HLN: 136

4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p: 12a:








































































Total Viewers (Live +SD)

  • Total day: FNC: 1.451 | MSNBC: 428 | CNN: 617 | HLN: 228
  • Primetime: FNC: 2.226 | MSNBC: 777 | CNN: 794 | HLN: 339

4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p: 12a:








































































Malaysian Airlines News And Speculation At CNN

Malaysia_Airlines_Boeing_777-2H6ER;_9M-MRG@ZRH;07.08.1998_(4794758296)I have to hand it to CNN. There’s no story I’m interested in as much as the Malaysian Airlines disappearance. They’re pouring everything they’ve got on it. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, with little new info or new info fragments, CNN has turned to speculating. I’ve heard Wolf Blitzer try and pin the rumors on others, but when it’s your megaphone that’s giving voice to these rumors you inherit responsibility. You can’t just attribute it away.

If I was in charge of CNN what would I do? I don’t know. The audience gains from all this wall-to-wall theory porn are appealing. CNN needs to stay profitable. So much temptation.

This is very similar to the steps that moved local TV news away from difficult-to-report issue stories to the crime/anecdote stories which now dominate.

CNN is seeing short term gain, but what is the long term price?

The Bourdain Disagreement

anthony-bourdain-no-reservationsThere’s a minor disagreement in the Fox house. I think Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN, “No Reservations,” “Parts Unknown,” is close to amazing. That is not a unanimous opinion.

Masterfully written. Nicely shot. He goes places I dream of, but know I’ll never see.

Tonight’s show is paused. He’s in Congo.

Helaine’s opinion of Bourdain is exactly opposite mine.

The show has Anthony traveling the world, marveling at local (often rudimentary) cuisine. It is the ultimate armchair travelogue. He flies in rickety third world airplanes, travels rivers in rickety boats, drives over rutted and potholed roads while eating food prepared with minimal consideration of hygiene.

There’s no doubt this is Anthony’s show. He will often address the camera directly. Lots of ‘me roll.’

Back to the writing. It’s the most important element in televised storytelling.

Guys like Bourdain and Alton Brown understand how to write prose which will be spoken. Bourdain’s script is crafted in his spoken voice. The narration is embedded deep within the fabric of the story–no less a player than the photography itself.

I’d like to think I write like that. Maybe not. I try.

The word is CNN will air more documentary type shows, like Bourdain’s, in 2014. From

“The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts,” Zucker said in a recent interview about “massive changes” he’s got planned for the network, adding that he wants CNN to attract “viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and Nat Geo and A&E.”

That’s good new and bad news. Among the bad, every hour of doc programming is an hour less of news. CNN is already news challenged too many hours of the day.

The good news is shows like Bourdain’s are worthwhile endeavors. We know so little of the world around us.

The Media Overvalues Twitter

The discussion framed Twitter as a place for political discourse. Maybe it is, but that’s a minor piece of what Twitter is.

I embrace social media. I am on Facebook. I am on Google+. I am on Twitter. Of those three the most misunderstood and incorrectly valued by the press is Twitter.

Today Howard Kurtz interviewed Jeff Jarvis on CNN’s Reliable Sources&#185. They discussed a Jarvis originated tweet with the hashtag #f*ckwashington. (The original didn’t have an asterisk and it’s sort of juvenile that I choose to use it since you all knowthe actual word anyway.)

The discussion framed Twitter as a place for political discourse. Maybe it is, but that’s a minor piece of what Twitter is and unless you know what you’re looking for beforehand politics is impossible to stumble upon.

I have a few special Twitter searches set up on my computers. They’re not looking for keywords. They’re looking for people within a specific geographic region. There’s one centered on a 15 mile circle around New Haven. Another does the same for Hartford.

My original thought was locals would tip me off when something was going on in either place. It works sometimes–not dependably. Most time it’s worthless.

Having this localized firehose of messages lets me see tweets without worrying if they’re sent by people I care about. There’s no concern over the subject matter either. Not all tweets are geotagged yet, but if it’s sent near New Haven or near Hartford there’s a chance it gets to my screen.

New Haven has Yale University. Hartford is the state capitol. You would expect some political talk and smart discussions. And yet I rarely see political or learned tweets! They are a rarity.

Here’s a brief sample received within the last few minutes:

  • Damn, tht was short lived smh oh well. Better luck next time
  • I should brought some weed for this car ride #DecisionsRegreted
  • @Liana_Gianna Yeayeayea, I wass likee ahaa oh heyy lianaa.

You get the idea.

This is not to say there aren’t valuable tweets. They’re just tough to find in all the noise.

The people you want to hear from are already writing elsewhere… and not limited to 140 characters. I continue to come back to Twitter, but sometimes wonder why?

&#185 – CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Kurtz examines the media and its role in news and society.

Something You Only See Up North

After parking and shutting down your car the snow that continues to fall on your windshield melts for a while. Once the defroster’s heat is gone the melted snow refreezes!

wiper blades up.jpgI know this blog is read outside the Northeast and snow country. Some of you have probably never even experienced snow! Tonight I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Take a look at the car in the photo. We’ve got a parking lot full of them with their wiper blades up. They don’t show this kind of stuff on CNN, do they?

The problem tonight isn’t getting your blades snow covered. That is a pain, but it’s a minor pain. The problem happens when you park after riding in snow.

As you might imagine we use window defrosters here a lot. After parking and shutting down your car the snow that continues to fall on your windshield melts for a while. Once the defroster’s heat is gone the melted snow refreezes!

Instead of having your wipers covered in snow they’re now embedded in ice!

Romantic, isn’t it?

Oh What A Bad Feeling – Toyota

The public trust is not easily obtained nor should it be taken lightly. Toyota has been behind on this story at every step. It’s not going away.

toyota-logo.jpgOh Toyota. You are this close to becoming a business school teaching lesson. You are this close to becoming Bon Vivant Vichyssoise! Never heard of Bon Vivant? Read on.

Back in the early seventies there was a food company named Bon Vivant. They made high end canned soups under their own name and for others. I’ll let the NY Times pick up the story:

On an early July day in 1971 when it was too hot to cook, a couple in Westchester County, N.Y., sat down to a meal of Bon Vivant vichyssoise, a soup often served chilled (and in this case, straight from the can). The soup tasted funny, so they didn’t finish it; within hours he was dead and she was paralyzed from botulism poisoning. F.D.A. investigators found five other cans of vichyssoise from the same batch of 6,444 that were also tainted with botulism, and spot checks of other products raised questions about the company’s processing practices, so the agency shut down the plant and told the company to recall all its soups.

Bon Vivant tried to fight the recall, calling it an overreaction to a highly isolated problem, but it soon became obvious that few consumers would touch anything with Bon Vivant on the label. And because it was known that the company manufactured store brands as well as its own, people started to be suspicious of every kind of canned soup on the shelf. Bon Vivant filed for bankruptcy within a month.

Instead of getting ahead of the story Bon Vivant pushed back. They put their profits and priorities before their customer’s. We tend not to like that from those who feed us and from whom we expect scrupulous attention to safety.

Nearly seventy years of soup making and Bon Vivant was gone within a month! They became the poster child for what not to do in a crisis.

Fast forward to 1982. Someone injected cyanide into Tylenol capsules after they were already on the store shelf. What did Johnson and Johnson do? They took responsibility and bore the immediate cost though the sabotage happened out of their reach.

Although Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety first and recalled all of their capsules from the market. In fact, in February of 1986, when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning in Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson permanently removed all of the capsules from the market.

You don’t think twice about taking Tylenol today, do you?

I am a Toyota guy. My first new car was a 1970 Toyota Corona. I or my family have had one for most of the time since then. Helaine and Stef both drive Toyotas today.

I have no animus toward Toyota. But seriously, it seems they are following the lead of Bon Vivant and not Johnson and Johnson.

The public trust is not easily obtained nor should it be taken lightly. Toyota has been behind on this story at every step. It’s not going away.

I just watched CNN’s Jessica Yellin play a phone conversation with Toyota about her own Prius. Damning.

I know GM and Ford are licking their chops hoping for Toyota’s downfall. I’m not sure that would be as good for all of us as it is for them. I am not rooting for Toyota’s failure. Their prior attention to quality has forced the US auto industry to step-it-up over the last few decades.

Right now more than Toyota’s cars are speeding down the road out-of-control.

Should I Care About Letterman? I Do

It was obvious the audience was also caught off guard. They didn’t seem to get the drift of what he was saying.

“I’m glad you folks are here tonight, and I’m glad you folks are in such a pleasant mood, because I have a story I’d like to tell you and the home viewers as well.” – David Letterman

letterman-ticket.jpgI rushed home and quickly turned on the TV. I wanted to watch David Letterman’s mea culpa. I am not proud this was must see TV.

A few quick notes. The Letterman extortion story exploded because of the Internet and social media. It wasn’t long after Letterman’s audience exited the Ed Sullivan Theater that the twittering began. Though Letterman was mum the accused perp’s name surfaced by 11:00p and his CBS News affiliation a few minutes later.

Social media led mainstream media by a mile. The Washington Post/CNN’s Howard Kurtz is a perfect example of the new pecking order.

“Weird: I tweeted, Anderson Cooper’s person saw it, seconds later I’m phoning in to CNN on the Letterman affair(s). Talk about Twitter power” – Howard Kurtz via Twitter

I’m a big Letterman fan and have been for nearly 30 years. I watched his confession tonight–that’s what it was.

I knew Dave was a flawed man, but this wasn’t a flaw I’d expected. My assumption was his shortcomings were beyond his control. This decidedly is not.

It was obvious the audience was caught off guard. There was no context so they originally felt Dave was setting up some bit. They didn’t get the drift of what he was saying. More than once there was awkward silence as they grasped to understand what was unfolding. They would have benefited by being pre-tweeted.

I wish I knew if tonight’s revelations would affect my ongoing viewing or even my opinion of Letterman in general. Though disappointing, these affairs of his aren’t at the Polanski level nor what suspect was Michael Jackson’s dysfunctional worst. I still enjoy Woody Allen movies and he’s been pretty skeevy as an adult.

I am conflicted. My opinion will certainly be swayed by the opinions of others.

Why should I care anyway? But I do.

Don’t Piss Off Alec Baldwin

This is how a child fights. This isn’t the response I’d expect from an adult.

Alec Baldwin is a gifted actor. He needs a little lots of anger management help.

Remember how he railed at his daughter… the voicemail heard ’round the world. Now he’s going off at Jack Cafferty, CNN’s avuncular gadfly.

This isn’t to say Cafferty hasn’t said wrong minded things about Alec Baldwin. I think he has. From HuffingtonPost’s “Man of the People” column written by Baldwin:

“I was sorry to watch, live on CNN, Edward R. Murrow and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and all around “Man of the People” Jack Cafferty spit on me on his broadcast today.

After decrying the notion of “actors and comedians” running for public office, Cafferty stated, “Baldwin’s credentials are questionable… but Franken is no slouch. He’s Harvard educated.”

So Franken fits the mold for Cafferty because he went to Harvard? What other schools does Cafferty approve of as breeding grounds for office holders in America? What other professions does Cafferty believe should be excluded from holding office? “

OK–I can understand Alec Baldwin being upset, but how far does an adult go? Is this too far?

“I would like to make a deal with Cafferty. Jack, you don’t tell people that a career in the performing arts disqualifies them from seeking elected office, and I won’t say publicly that your being convicted of leaving the scene of an accident in which you struck a cyclist and then ran two red lights while you were pursued by the police and were subsequently ordered to serve 70 hours of community service back in May of 2003 disqualifies you from posing as a “Man of the People” on a major cable news network.

Fair enough?

This is how a child fights. This isn’t the response I’d expect from an adult.

If Baldwin does decide to run for political office his education will be a lot less important than his explosions.

We are all flawed. We are not all volatile.

Ed McMahon

I have one Ed McMahon story and it involves my very secretive friend from the San Fernando Valley and his spectacularly beautiful wife. I asked if he could get me tickets to see The Tonight Show and he asked her.

ed-and-johnny.jpgFor the past few days I’ve been torn as to whether there should be an Ed McMahon entry in the blog. Though a huge presence on television he struck me as a man with little personal integrity. He sold what can politely be called “crap” on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and never really changed. Seemingly he’d shill any product.

His moral code aside, where he was really excellent was as Johnny Carson’s announcer/sidekick. Howard Lapides coined the term we liberally sprinkled Ed’s way. It was “FL” for fake laugh. If Carson intended something to be funny then it was funny to Ed! His laugh was loud and recognizable.

Don’t underestimate this power. The Tonight Show was ‘sweetened’ in real time by Ed. No post-production house could add a laugh track that would help as much.

I have one Ed McMahon story and it involves my very secretive friend from the San Fernando Valley and his spectacularly beautiful wife. I asked if he could get me tickets to see The Tonight Show and he asked her. She had been a page at NBC. She’d even appeared on The Tonight Show giving Johnny the prize envelopes on Stump The Band!

Her specialty was making sure you’d be seated “DIF” or “down-in-front.” That’s where I sat. Thank you Sue.

There are few places I’ve been that immediately seemed so eerily familiar–Mission Control in Houston and the big digital clock at the shuttle launch facility in Florida, CNN’s newsroom, the floor of the NYSE and Carson’s studio on West Alameda in Burbank. I’d seen it a thousand times before I ever set a foot inside.

The crowd entered and politely sat. We were excited. As taping time approached the band played a number and Ed came out to warm everyone up.

“There seems to have been a mistake–a clerical error,” he said.

The audience sighed worrying what was wrong and how it would affect our best laid plans.

“I don’t know how,” he continued, “but Johnny, Doc and I have been scheduled to work on the same night!”

The audience went nuts!

I remember that moment as if it was yesterday–in fact it is the only part of my Tonight Show experience I remember.

Guest Blogger–My Friend Peter

Why didn´t CNN do this? Stewart put them to shame. So much for their journalistic skill.

I just got an email from my friend Peter Mokover on the Jersey Shore. “If I had a blog” he began, He doesn’t have a blog. Actually today he does–mine.

Over the past several months I´ve read or heard interviews of several leading broadcast journalists in which they expressed their concern about how more and more people are getting their “news” from bloggers on the Internet and late night comedy shows. I share that concern. The majority of bloggers have limited journalistic skill. Late night hosts are comedians not journalists. None of them are The New York Times, NBC or CNN.

Then I watched John Stewart interview Jim Cramer tonight (and several other pieces Stewart has done recently) and I wondered: why didn´t one of the network news shows do this? Why didn´t CNN do this? Stewart put them to shame. So much for their journalistic skill.


Peter has a point… and then again he doesn’t. Though Stewart takes on the media, he does it on the cheap. In fact it’s The New York Times, NBC, CNN and the rest that pay for The Daily Show’s coverage. They send reporters to the field and buy cameras and satellite trucks.

And, of course, The Daily Show isn’t answerable, so they can call someone a douche (or other term). I’m not sure how that would play in news.

Where Peter is totally correct is that mainstream media often take those in power at their word. That is a shame. I suspect it might get worse with newspapers dying and TV stations retrenching.

How I Became A Maury Watcher

I know this crap’s been on for years. I’m more than a little late to the game.

I don’t watch any of the ‘trash’ studio shows. OK–let’s fix that. I didn’t watch any of the ‘trash’ studio shows until recently… and even now it’s a fleeting glimpse.

When we got our new flat panel TV for the bedroom the tuner found the HD transmissions from our local stations sandwiched between the news channels. Now when I go from Fox to CNBC to HLN to CNN to MSNBC, local channels 59 and 61 show up.

Now when I wake up and graze at the news buffet I pass by Maury. I stopped for a moment today. It was a poor schlmeil and his wife. She was his child bride–literally. They now have three children. Only two are his. She actually didn’t know if any of them were his before Maury dramatically opened the envelope and revealed the DNA test results.

I know this crap’s been on for years. I’m more than a little late to the game.

These people are sad. What’s just as sad, maybe sadder, is Maury and crew exploiting their ignorance and naivety.

By highlighting these stories shows like this legitimize abhorrent behavior. Watching might be a guilty pleasure, but it comes with a cost. We coarsen our world.

Anchored Off Half Moon Cay

A cruise is for relaxing–and we have relaxed. Still, a lot has gone on since yesterday afternoon when I last posted.

After dinner we headed to the theater for the evening’s show. We were worried about getting good seats so we showed up early which meant we were there in time for the end of BINGO. Call me a snobbish member of the media elite, but why do people play this game? Adding to the ‘fun’ was a cruise staff member who brought insincerity to new heights and who Helaine said looked like Robin Leach’s illegitimate son in ill fitting clothes. Too many buffets!

A new set of comedians came on board in Nassau. The first guy was billed as “Physical Comedian Howard Mincone,” so I figured Carrot Top or Gallagher (or, more likely Gallagher II). Not funny! At points embarrassingly not funny. I actually felt bad for this guy. We would have left, but we were close enough to the stage to be seen.

He was followed by Frank Del Pizzo. The name was familiar though his act was not. This was standard fare stand-up and he was pretty good. We’ll go back for the “R” rated show tomorrow night. Please–tell Howard not to come!

God–I hope Howard doesn’t Google his name from the ship.

After the show we wandered to the casino and, again, I sat down for poker. My pre-cruise expectation was the table would be full of poker neophytes–easy pickings. BINGO! Last night I quickly won $160 from a $50 stake playing $1/$2 no limit. I was called down and paid off twice when reasonable players would have folded.

There’s no guarantee the pickings will be as easy tonight or that I didn’t confuse good luck with good play. We’ll see.

We woke up this morning anchored off a beautiful island. Carnival calls it Half Moon Cay–but that’s not it’s real name. Carnival got this island when it bought Holland America. The Half Moon was Henry Hudson’s ship of exploration. Half Moon Cay is just too convenient.

We watched the island’s little tenders bob up and down as they tied up to a hatchway off Deck 3. It was breezy and cool as we set out. Some people were already returning to get sweatshirts. Helaine headed to the room to get ours, but they were never needed.

The Sun was bright. The water was mild. The beach was a pale powder with no rocks nor shells. The ocean threw waves just a few inches tall.

There were lots of people on the beach, but also plenty of lounge chairs. I took some photos and video then joined Helaine at the edge of the crowd. I laid on my back and quickly fell asleep. This is the life!

We headed back to the ship for some lunch, though by the smell of things there was a barbeque somewhere on the beach.

I continue to be impressed by this cruise. Our tickets were reasonably priced. The value is high. We have not been bored. There’s always something to do or see or eat!


In our cabin we have access to CNN and CNN International. It quickly becomes obvious CNN is CNN Dumb compared to CNN International. Are Americans really that stupid that we need newscasts dilluted with sensationalized stories of crime and style?

The world is important. We miss so much.


I am reading emails, but responding…. not until on shore. The Internet is priced like gold!

New TV For The Bedroom

Circuit City offers a service where, for a fee, they’ll come to your home and set the TV up. Does anyone really need this? It was out of the box with the base screwed into place in two minutes.

element-lcd-tv.jpgWe went out today to buy a new TV for the bedroom. This is a set used by me when I wake up and by Helaine before she goes to bed.

Is it possible nowadays to not feel guilty when spending money? I definitely felt guilty. Isn’t that attitude going to take us farther into recession?

We decided we’d like something similarly sized to what we already have. Our old set is 27″, but it’s 4:3. All TVs today at 16:9. Have no fear there are websites that will calculate and compare. A 32″ TV is within 6% of a 27″ “old school” monitor in area with lots of extra real estate when the content is HDTV.

This was definitely a price based decision. We went with a Circuit City “Element” brand 32″ LCD TV at $399. It is a no-nonsense model with a single HDMI input, VGA and the other standard methods of moving video and audio.

Circuit City offers a service where, for a fee, they’ll come to your home and set the TV up. Does anyone really need this? It was out of the box with the base screwed into place in two minutes. I couldn’t believe there was a Phillips head screwdriver included!

I attached the coax and power cable turned it on and went to the menu to scan for channels. A few minutes later I was ready to go.

The analog channels are what I was expecting. The digital channels are a mish mash of repeats and weird channels with few things of interest. At least two digital channels don’t seem to be on my Comcast provided digital tuner in the family room. That’s some sort of screw up on Comcast’s part.

The digital companions to our local on-air stations are at their on-channel positions. So, though WCTX is usually Cable 9, WCTX-DT is on Channel 59. WTIC, the local Fox affiliate, is 61-1 squeezed between CNN Headline on 61 and CNN on 62. Now Homer Simpson is in the middle of a cluster of news outlets.

As I tuned I began to notice a lot of channels running HD programming on their SD channels but formatted 16:9 so it doesn’t fill the entire screen. What you get is a 16:9 picture on a 16:9 set but with loads of unused black on all four sides. I could hit a button an expand it, but it’s a manual job on each channel and the video will be pixelated as it’s stretched.

The tuner on this set reminds me of the tuner in an LG set at work. It probably is the same tuner. I assume there are mix and match modules used to build modern televisions. Companies like “Element” are more marketing than manufacturing.

The picture is bright and sharp and it’s an improvement over the old set. I’m looking forward to watching it.