WHITE NOISE: News from Inside the Media Bubble
Katie’s swan song?
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that CBS news anchor Katie Couric will be leaving the station by the end of the year, well before the end of the five-year contract she signed in 2006. CBS’s newscast rates a distant third behind NBC and ABC, a problem the station had hoped to solve when it hired Couric. Democratic leaders in North Carolina are trying to finalize plans for an April 27 presidential debate in Raleigh that might be moderated by Couric. Here’s hoping that Couric, anatomical inaccuracies aside, develops a case of retirement balls sometime before the event and shoots a few missiles along with the usual softballs.
Advice from the master
Though at times Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward has gotten a little too comfortable within the beltway power vortex, his no-nonsense, shoe-leather approach to the basic reporting craft redeems him. It would be hard to come up with better advice than this nugget – given to Guilford College students, and ably reported by J. Brian Ewing in The News & Record on Sunday: “You don’t know what the next story is. If someone tells you to go talk to Jones down in Florida for the story, you’ve got to go talk to Jones.” Of course, the fact that he had unparalleled access to the Bush White House as the invasion of Iraq got underway and failed to recognize that non-existent weapons of mass destruction were a false pretext for aggression is a source of regret. He reportedly told the students: “I don’t think I was aggressive enough in the lead-up to the war.”
Honest to blog?
When I penned a YES! Weekly cover story about the Greensboro [“New Media gains national attention in Greensboro”; May 25, 2005] I asked blogfather Ed Cone if any bloggers had been sued yet. At that point, nearly three years ago, the answer was “No,” mostly because there was no real money involved in the practice of blogging. Since then, newspapers, television stations, celebrities, music labels and countless other pajama-clad loudmouths have gotten into the act, ourselves included, and some of them are pulling in dollars for their efforts. And once there was some money on the table, the lawsuits started piling up. The most recent involves The Chicago Reader, an alt-weekly recently purchased by the Creative Loafing chain, and a comment thread on the paper’s political blog, “Clout City.” The lawsuit alleges that in January, Chicago political activist Frank Coconate, posing as former assistant commissioner for the city’s Department of Aviation James Sachay, wrote a comment implicating Sachay in a crimes that include corruption and graft. Coconate denies making the post, but Sachay, who maintains that the words are not his, is suing Coconate and the paper for $800,000. At the center of it is the Reader’s comment policy which states, in part, “commenters are free to use whatever name(s) they choose.” Who knows if Sachay will get his judgment, but certainly the episode gives pause to serious bloggers and professional news outlets that maintain blogs about policy regarding anonymous – or unsubstantiated – comments. Seriously, I can find like 10 actionable comments made in the last month in the Greensboro blogosphere alone.