Not your enemy

Not your enemy

Attacks on the news media are nothing new, especially from American presidents. Even that vocal defender of a free press, Thomas Jefferson, had it up to here on occasion with newspapers and “the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them.” Richard Nixon’s famous “enemies list” included more than 50 print and […]

Ethical editing

Ethical editing

It was only eight seconds. Eight seconds of silence between a question and answer. But it didn’t actually happen that way. And now, the decision to insert an 8-second pause in a documentary about a controversial subject has become a controversy of its own. The director of the documentary film Under the Gun says she made a “creative decision” […]

Local TV news viewership declines again

Local TV news viewership declines again

The latest report from the Pew Research Center on the state of local television news is anything but upbeat. According to Nielsen data, the local news audience shrank again in 2015 in all key time slots–morning, evening and late. Late news took the biggest hit, down 5% from the year before. And the long-term trend isn’t pretty. Since […]

What makes people trust the news?

What makes people trust the news?

You already know that Americans have little confidence in what they see, hear or read in the news media. Last year, according to Gallup, trust in media set a new low with just 7% saying they have a great deal of confidence in the news. What’s to be done? A new study offers some clues. The Media Insight Project asked […]

Live shots and security

Live shots and security

The murder of two TV journalists by a former reporter at their station has shocked us all. They were shot to death in the middle of a live report or the morning show at WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. Viewers heard reporter Alison Parker scream. Photographer Adam Ward managed to capture an image of the shooter, who was quickly […]

NBC's Brian Williams decision: Not good enough

NBC’s Brian Williams decision: Not good enough

It was an ego trip. That’s the explanation Brian Williams offered in a Today Show interview the morning after NBC News officially demoted him from Nightly News anchor and allowed him to return to the network after a four-month suspension. “I told stories that were not true,” he said.  “I own this.” Precisely what he’s owning up […]

Why ABC should discipline George Stephanopoulos

Why ABC should discipline George Stephanopoulos

In what universe is it OK for a prominent journalist to make large contributions to a politically-connected foundation? In the universe of ABC News, apparently. ABC’s main anchor, George Stephanopoulos, has acknowledged that he gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation over the past three years. He didn’t tell his bosses, and he never mentioned it on the air, […]

So long, Bob Schieffer

So long, Bob Schieffer

This time, Bob Schieffer says, it’s for real. After 46 years with CBS News, he plans to step down as host of Face the Nation and retire this summer. He’s talked about retirement before, but it didn’t take. The truth is he was having way too much fun to quit. “It’s been a great adventure,” he said in announcing […]

Why NBC News had to suspend Brian Williams

Why NBC News had to suspend Brian Williams

It only took a week. It must have felt much longer to Brian Williams. The network suspended its main news anchor last night, saying his actions were inexcusable. Taking him off air for six months without pay, said NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke, was a “severe and appropriate punishment” for having “jeopardized the trust millions of […]

Screw-ups of the year

Screw-ups of the year

A television station runs a photo of the mayor and wrongly states she’s flashing a gang sign. TV reporters share photos of themselves on social media appearing to make light of serious stories. Two Chicago stations can’t get the facts right on a jail sentence. What a year for journalism ethics. Ironic, don’t you think, that […]

How much local TV news is too much?

How much local TV news is too much?

The graphic is a bit of an overstatement. WISH-TV in Indianapolis does not air news 24 hours a day. But it’s moving in that direction. Starting in January, the station will air 9 1/2 hours of local news every weekday, adding four hours to its current schedule. The extra hours are spread across all day parts: […]

TV news producer memories

TV news producer memories

Forty years ago, as a newbie producer at the ABC affiliate in Washington, DC, I had to juggle live coverage of the Watergate hearings. The length of our midday newscast depended on when the network dumped out, and they usually gave us little warning. Some days we’d run an 18-minute newscast; other days we’d have to […]

Should a journalist ever be a paid spokesman?

Should a journalist ever be a paid spokesman?

In the movie Broadcast News, a network producer accuses a reporter of crossing the line between journalism and entertainment. His reply: “It’s hard not to cross it; they keep moving the little sucker, don’t they?” They sure do. The line between news and advertising has been blurring for years. Infomercials, advertorials, “native” ads online. Now, […]