Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Jackson Service Draws 31 Million U.S. Viewers

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some newspapers fashioned their front - and back - pages as collectors' items.

Since His Death, Entertainer "Drove the News Agenda"

"Tuesday's lavish Michael Jackson memorial was seen by 31.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research," the Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday.

"Though a staggering audience for a midweek morning after the Fourth of July holiday, the number falls shy of the linear viewership for the burial of Ronald Reagan (35.1 million) in 2004 and the funeral of Princess Diana (33.3 million) in 1997.

"It's a larger number of viewers than watched Reagan's funeral (20.8 million) or the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II (8.8 million), however.

Philadelphia Daily News did the same . . ."A stunning 18 cable and broadcast networks carried the three-hour telecast, ranging from news outlets to entertainment channels such as MTV and E!

"Millions of additional viewers watched online and overseas. Given the steep increase in Internet viewing each year, it's likely that more U.S. viewers watched Jackson's memorial overall than Reagan or Diana if all forms of viewing were tallied.

"For instance, both (19 million streams) and (9.7 million) broke their all-time streaming video records with Tuesday's event. ABC's digital network delivered nearly 6 million streams.

"Memorial organizer AEG Live told the Los Angeles Times that they expect 1 billion people watched worldwide, but the BBC estimated 2.5 billion worldwide for Diana.

Mark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Center wrote earlier, "In a week when the U.S. withdrew in Iraq and attacked in Afghanistan, when the governor of California declared an economic emergency and the governor of Alaska stepped down, it was Michael Jackson who drove the news agenda.

. . . as did the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Casper."The dominant story ever since he died on June 25, the fascination with Jackson's life and death filled 17% of the newshole from June 29-July 5, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That narrative was driven by several storylines. While part of the coverage continued to focus on his legacy as an entertainer and his still vibrant fan base, more ominous strains emerged including growing questions about whether drugs played a role in his death and the prospect of a legal wrangle over his estate and children.

". . . the Jackson frenzy has largely been a television story-due in no small measure to the plentiful footage documenting his career. . . . The Jackson story filled 30% of the airtime studied on network news and 28% on cable news last week. Within the network news universe, the more feature-oriented morning shows spent more than half their time (56%) on the story compared with 20% in the evening." 


In Little Rock, MJ Service Rated Bottom of Page 2

The Michael Jackson memorial service might have drawn millions of viewers and been splashed across many a front page, but to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, it wasn't as important as "Trauma system draws 63 hospitals," "Trade panel looks at limits on energy futures" or "Prison data give agency look at its effect."

Those stories were all on Page 1.

The Jackson service was at the bottom left corner of Page 2.

"We just don't put that kind of thing on the front page," David Bailey, managing editor, told Journal-isms, "that kind of thing" being the death of a pop culture figure. Not even Johnny Cash made the front when he died, and "he was an Arkansan."

The day Jackson died, the news was put in one of the two small "skyboxes" above the paper's nameplate. Front-page deaths are reserved for "someone who we expect our grandkids to read about . . . in the history textbooks," Bailey said.

"We're pretty traditional and it serves our audience well. I think what we're doing is what audiences expect," he continued. For the front page, the paper looks for the kind of stories Walter Cronkite would lead with on the "CBS Evening News" in his day, in the 1960s. A president or a senator or a governor would make the front, said Bailey, 59, who has been at the paper for 16 years.

What of the other papers that are running with the Jackson story? "At a time of real upheaval in the news media, we've been an island of success," the managing editor explained. "Our circulation is stronger than it was 10 year ago."

TV News Salaries Fell in '08 While News Coverage Rose

"For the first time in 15 years, the average salaries dropped for both TV and radio news. Yesterday the RTNDA and Hofstra University released the results of their joint annual study on employment and salaries in news and the numbers are evidence of a grim year for news outlets," the TV Spy Web site reported, speaking of the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

"Overall, TV news salaries fell 4.4 percent in 2008, and radio news salaries slid by 1.8 percent. Tack on inflation at 3.8 percent, and real wages fell by 8.2 percent in TV news and 5.6 percent in radio news. Though TV news salaries dropped across the board, on-air positions were hardest hit while assignment editors and art directors stayed more or less even.

"As the economic recession has led to a decline in advertising spending, the TV news industry has definitely taken a hit but there are signs that the industry will be able to successfully rebound from the current recession. According to Bob Papper, who conducted the study and who serves as Chair of the Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations Department at Hofstra University, 'We're still seeing layoffs, although my impression is that the layoffs have slowed considerably. There's also still downward pressure on salaries, with plenty of higher priced people retiring, being laid off or taking salary cuts. Again, the key is the economy, but I do expect to see improvement starting in the fourth quarter of this year and into 2010.'

"Papper also points out that layoffs and salary cuts in TV news should not be bundled with the problems that newspapers have faced in the past year to create a general conclusion about journalism. In fact, what surprised him the most about the results was the amount of news coverage that stations actually added in 2008.

"'Newspaper reporters keep wanting to see what's happening to TV through the lens of what's happened to newspapers,' he stated in an email message. 'They're not parallel. What I keep telling reporters is that if they want to get an idea of where local TV news is heading, watch the amount of news - not the amount of staff. Staffing responds to the recession. The amount of news that a station runs has to balance the present with the future. What TV stations are saying - at least so far - is that news is a critical part of their future." 

What Rights Does Journalist Have at the Border?

John Dinges"Here's the dilemma," Columbia University professor John Dinges wrote for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "You're coming back from a reporting trip with notes and documents about, say, U.S. intervention in a Latin American country. Or maybe you were just doing a travel piece, or maybe meeting with journalists interested in doing investigative reporting in their countries.

"The uniformed customs and border protection officer at Miami Airport examines your passport, notices you have visited several countries, and asks, 'What were you doing on this trip?' wrote Dinges, who is also an author and a co-founder of the Centro de Investigaci??n e Informaci??n Period??stica in Santiago, Chile.

"Then a second and third question, each demanding more specific information. What do you do?

"That's what happened to me last Saturday as I returned from two and a half weeks in Chile, Venezuela, and Brazil.

''I'm a journalist, I was conducting meetings and gathering information,' I said to the first question.

''I know what a journalist does,' the officer said. 'Tell me specifically what you were doing.'

"I stammered. I said something like, 'I don't think I should have to tell you. I feel I have a First Amendment protection and shouldn't have to be interrogated about who I met with.'

". . . I was embarrassed that I had given out information that no journalist should have to reveal to a U.S. government official, or to anyone unless I chose to write it in a story. I shouldn't have mentioned the title of the Venezuelan opposition politician I met with, for example."

". . . My concern is that there should be limits to how the border agents can interrogate citizens, in particular journalists, about that legitimate activity. I can accept that the agents can ask a broad array of questions. But I should have the right to refuse to answer detailed questions about my activities as a journalist without being taken into custody."

Angry Chinese Mob Turns on ABC News Team

ABC News’ producer Beth Loyd described the scene Wednesday in Urumqi, the troubled capital of China’s north-western Xianjiang province, that is under lockdown. "It has been the scene of serious civil unrest since the weekend with the ethnic minority Uighurs pitting themselves against the Han Chinese in a series of violent street battles," ABC reported.

Loyd wrote:

"Tens of thousands of troops and police have swarmed the streets of downtown Urumqi and made a perimeter around the mostly Uighur neighborhood to prevent the Uighurs from getting out and the Han Chinese from getting it. But that has not quelled the violence.

"We were driving to the Uighur area and encountered an angry mob. Thirty Han Chinese men were beating a Uighur man, kicking him and punching him and hitting him with sticks. He was not fighting back but just trying to get away. Hundreds of Han Chinese were cheering the men on. Eventually, the police dragged the Uighur away and put him in a vehicle for his protection.

"Then, the mob turned on us. They blocked our cameras, not wanting the images of Han Chinese beating a Uighur to get out. I was pushed. Then the group surrounded us and started yelling. They pushed us back up a highway ramp where we were shooting. They yelled that western journalists were biased against the Han Chinese and that we should delete our footage. One man tried to grab our camera and then pulled out a baton and held it over his head as if he were going to hit us. We turned around and ran. The oddest part of the whole experience was that there were swarms of police and troops around and none of them were really trying to break up the fight." 

PBS Examines Decline of Investigative Reporting

Mc Nelly Torres"The story line has been repeated time after time: The internet is killing mainstream media, sending the Fourth Estate into record-breaking revenue declines," according to Laura Frank, writing about a forthcoming public television production, "Expose: The Withering Watchdog."

"Online ads garner only a fraction of the dropping print revenue. When faced with cuts, investigative reporting is often the first target. Investigative journalism takes more time and more experienced journalists to produce, and it often involves legal battles. It's generally the most expensive work the news media undertake.

"But an Expos?© original investigation has found there's more to the story.

"The decline in investigative reporting — the in-depth stories that hold the powerful accountable in a democracy — began long before the current economic collapse. The crisis that has pundits worried about the survival of serious journalism in America began with what the journalism industry did to itself.

"Brant Houston led the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization for more than a decade. His work put him in the newsrooms of almost every major media outlet in the nation. Houston says he saw the problems starting years ago.

"'I was seeing first-hand that places weren't putting their resources in in-depth reporting, or training, or actually doing the things that would have ensured efficiency and quality,' said Houston, now Knight Chair in investigative reporting at the University of Illinois. 'Corporations came and harvested the profits.'"

Among those featured in the piece are reporters who took buyouts or were laid off, including Mc Nelly Torres, a board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors who worked at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

["This one isn't a program, it's our first original investigation published/posted on our site.  There is, of course, the chance that this investigation will be turned into one of our documentary episodes down the line," producer Scott Davis told Journal-isms on July 16.]

Next Big Live Event: Sotomayor Confirmation Hearings

"As we were live blogging the Michael Jackson memorial service it got us thinking about the next big live news event — the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, which begins Monday," Chris Ariens wrote in the TV Newswer column.

"So far, here's what you can expect: the cable news channels are planning on taking the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in full beginning Monday at 10am.

"The broadcast networks are still deciding, but expect the hearing to be streamed on and PBS has already announced it will provide live coverage anchored by Judy Woodruff.

"On Fox News, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly will anchor coverage with panelists Brit Hume, Greta Van Susteren and Juan Williams. Baier and Kelly will also host a special Sunday night at 8pmET on the Sotomayor nomination."

"We are not broadcasting live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Sotomayor hearings; stations have the option to take the raw audio of the hearings," Anna Christopher, National Public Radio spokeswoman, told Journal-isms. "NPR's coverage will include two afternoon specials (dates still TBD); evening wrap programs each night from 7-8PM ET; in addition to regular news coverage during all NPR programs."

[CNN announced Thursday that Wolf Blitzer will anchor special coverage, beginning Monday at 10 a.m. A special edition of "The Situation Room" airs at 4 p.m. on Monday. 

["CNN en Espa?±ol will offer broad coverage of the Sotomayor hearings beginning on Thursday, July 9, with a preview special on 'Directo desde EE.UU.' at 7:00 p.m. anchored by Patricia Janiot. This 30-minute special program, live from Washington , will review Sotomayor‚Äôs roots, her professional achievements and the facts that have made her a controversial candidate for the Court. On Sunday, July 12, at 1:30 p.m., correspondent Juan Carlos L??pez will talk with a panel of experts to take a look at Sotomayor‚Äôs federal case rulings for clues on what judicial philosophy she may take to the highest court. Then, on Monday, July 13, the network will offer live coverage of the hearings with analysts weighing in throughout the day."] [Updated July 9]

Short Takes

  • The Washington City Paper, which once proclaimed former mayor Marion Barry "mayor for life," is publishing a cover story with a crude phrase for oral sex bannered on its cover and attributed to a former girlfriend of Barry, who is separated. The Web site also features audio files of conversations between Barry, now a city council member, and Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, who according to news reports has accused Barry of stalking her. She has denied seeking his arrest, and the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia has decided not to prosecute on that charge.¬† City Paper Editor Erik Wemple, asked about the appropriateness of the language, told Journal-isms, "if some people are offended, if it reaches a little bit on the taste front, that may be the price you have to pay" in a democracy. "For all those who are outraged, they should be outraged at what happened." Wemple wrote that Barry was "using his official position and public monies to ingratiate himself with people he likes."
  • Danny J. Bakewell Jr., the Los Angeles Sentinel publisher who recently was elected president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association,¬† representing the black press, charged that the organizers of the Michael Jackson memorial service on Tuesday denied access to photographers from the black press. A spokesman for the Jackson family, who spoke "on background" so as not to "dignify" the charge, told Journal-isms that only seven photographers were in the press pool and they included African Americans. All news organizations had access to the pool photographs at no charge, the spokesman said.
  • Fox News host Geraldo Rivera, saying, "We have demonized an entire race of people in this country, immigrant and nonimmigrant alike. Citizen and noncitizen alike,‚Äù "called for President Barack Obama to end work site enforcement raids. He also said the Obama administration should better define guidelines for the federal government‚Äôs 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to act as immigration agents," Susan Carroll reported June 30 in the Houston Chronicle. "The federal government‚Äôs main focus, Rivera said, should be on targeting international street gangs and Mexican drug cartels," she wrote.
  • Because of budget cuts across the Florida State University System, "Florida A&M‚Äôs student newspaper will go from publishing three times a week to twice weekly," Angeline J. Taylor reported Wednesday for the Tallahassee Democrat. "The third publication day will be online instead of in its print format, FAMU spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said. ‚ÄúThis brings our reputation down tremendously,‚Äù former Famuan editor Akeem Anderson said. ‚ÄúWe were one of the top newspapers because of our frequency.‚Äù
  • "With at least 30 journalists currently in prison, Iran replaces China as the world's worst jailer of journalists," the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday. CPJ called on the Iranian authorities to release all journalists who have been detained following the country's disputed June 12 presidential elections, the committee said.
  • The Society of American Business Editors and Writers plans to hold a conference call July 14 at 3 p.m. Eastern time to help business journalists who have lost their jobs in the economic downturn and are looking for work. "The call will focus on what hiring managers are looking for today, how to redo your resume to draw attention and where to look for a job beyond the usual places," the organization said.
  • The National Newspaper Publishers Association has announced this year‚Äôs MillerCoors A. Philip Randolph Messenger writing award winners in the following categories: responsibility ‚Äî Darryl Perry, Atlanta Voice; environment ‚Äî Christian Morrow, New Pittsburgh Courier; aid/emergency relief ‚Äî Helen Silvis, the Skanner, published in Portland, Ore., and Seattle; cultural diversity ‚Äî Lisa Loving and Brian Stimson, the Skanner; heritage ‚Äî Rhonda Gillespie, Chicago Defender. The winning journalists received awards totaling $25,000, with an additional $500 going to each of the 10 finalists. In NNPA's Merit Awards, announced earlier, the Chicago Defender won first place in the Best Editorial Cartoon category for a cartoon by Tim Jackson.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, "is pressing the White House and the president's cabinet on the apparent void in federal government advertising in Black-owned newspapers and radio," Hazel Trice Edney reported for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
  • Alison Bethel-McKenzie, a former Washington bureau chief for the Alison Bethel-McKenzieDetroit News who subsequently worked at Legal Times, at the Nassau Guardian in the Bahamas and became a Knight International Journalism Fellow in Accra, Ghana, starts Aug. 18 as deputy director of the International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria, she told Journal-isms. IPI "is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists" dedicated to press freedom. "Among other things, IPI leads missions to assess a country‚Äôs media environment. It also presses for dialogue with countries before they slide into repression. IPI's central aim is to persuade governments that a lively and thriving media is essential to the success of their country," she said.
  • Frederick Douglass Sengstacke, who worked in just about every department during a long career with the Chicago Defender and succeeded his brother John Sengstacke as Frederick Douglass Sengstackethe newspaper's publisher, died at 90 after a brief illness on July 1, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Defender. "Mr. Sengstacke joined the Defender's staff after World War II and over the years held roles including business manager, production manager and publisher, as well as president and vice chairman of Sengstacke Enterprises," the Tribune said. "At the time of his death, he was treasurer of Chicago Defender Charities."
  • Mark Trahant, editor of the editorial page of the defunct print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is posting a weekly column on health care reform and Indian country at Trahant, board chairman of the Maynard Institute, was named a Kaiser Media Fellow and plans to spend the next year examining the Indian Health Service and its relevance to the national health reform debate.
  • NBA superstar LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers will appear at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 6, to promote the film "More Than a Game," NABJ announced on Wednesday. "More Than a Game" tells the true story of five basketball players and their journey from Akron, Ohio, to the national high school championship series.
  • Sam Fulwood III, the former Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist who left the paper in November to return to Washington, where he had Sam Fulwood III and his daughter, Amanda (Credit: Marvin Joseph, theRoot the Washington Post)worked in the Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, has landed as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank. He told Journal-isms he would focus on analyzing the influence of national politics and domestic policy on communities of color. In May, Fulwood wrote¬†for that he found himself in the same job market as his daughter, Amanda, a graduating senior. "This isn‚Äôt exactly the kind of father-daughter bonding I thought we would be engaging in at this point in our lives. But, oddly, it‚Äôs not too bad. We‚Äôve actually become quite a team."
  • "Spanish-born journalist Jose Sobrino Dieguez has died at his Manhattan home. He was 79 years old," the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. His widow, Angela Sobrino, says her husband died of cancer Friday. Sobrino worked as an editor on the Latin American desk of The Associated Press in New York City from 1964 to 1975. Born in Madrid in 1930, Sobrino moved to Cuba as a child with his family in 1942. He graduated from the University of Havana and worked as a journalist in Cuba."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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