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Friday, September 5, 2008

TV Reflections


I've had the opportunity to watch quite a bit of television this week, and that was a mistake.

I'll start with Hurricane Gustav. The storm was nasty, but not quite as bad as first feared. I saw some cable television news reporters who seemed disappointed the hurricane wasn't worse. Once again, there was way too much "Hey, look at me!" journalism.

Both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions have come to an end. I have mixed feelings here. Some of the reporting and commentary was enlightening, fair and responsible, but a lot of it was embarrassing and silly.

One of my least favorite moments came the day after Hillary Clinton's speech. One of the cable networks featured a "body language" expert to analyze Mrs. Clinton's address to the delegates. The anchor seemed rather annoyed when the "body language" expert concluded Clinton was sincere.

CNN, FOX, and MSNBC apparently spent a ton of money on sets and remote locations in Denver and St. Paul. Does anyone really care? Save the money on furniture and pretty surroundings. Spend it on putting quality reporters and photographers on the streets (and hiring good producers, too), and your coverage will shine.

Tom Brokaw did the 4:00 PM hour on MSNBC during both conventions, and it was perhaps the best hour of the day. Old school.

When it comes to coverage of political families, I agree with Tony Soprano and the Mafia code. Families are off limits. The pregnancy of 17 year old Bristol Palin presents some interesting issues. If you want to talk about family values, as the Republicans have, then the Republicans are the ones who put the pregnancy issue on the table-- not the media.

It's the same thing with the Democrats. The so-called party of change put a 35 year Senate veteran on the ticket. Don't be surprised when "sincerity of the message" questions arise.

Switching to radio for a moment, Paul Harvey turned 90 yesterday. Harvey was off the air for months due to pneumonia, an eye ailment, and the death of his beloved wife, Angel. He's gradually resuming his duties, and that's fantastic. The man uses the medium as well as anyone has ever done. Paul Harvey is a giant.