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Friction Over News Report Cards
Washington— Two members of the design team for the Project for Excellence in Journalism's periodic report cards on local broadcast journalism—one of them the project's former deputy director—have resigned after not being notified that five years of data gathered for those report cards would be used in a study on news ownership and group-ownership size.
The PEJ study said that greater concentration of TV stations in the hands of giant companies will likely lower the quality of local news. Large station groups, including network O&Os looking for FCC approval to grow those groups, have questioned the findings.
Project Director Tom Rosenstiel acknowledged that the design-team members should have been notified. They are both are veteran broadcast newsmen. Gary Wordlaw is a longtime news director who became a general manager, recently joining the nation's largest station group Viacom to run KSTW(TV) Tacoma, Wash. Carl Gottlieb was deputy director of the Project for Excellence until last summer, when he left to join Sinclair Broadcast Group's News Central as managing editor. Neither could be reached.
MacLennan Leaves WBBM-TV
Chicago— Linda MacLennan, a staple at the ever-changing WBBM-TV, left last week after 16 years. She said that the departure was amicable, that new General Manager Joe Ahern was increasing the demands on staff. "New management was brought in six months ago with the awesome challenge of overhauling the station to improve the news ratings," said MacLennan, a mother of three, "and this will require 100% commitment and dedication from everyone ... the commitment is different than was contemplated when I agreed last April to return to anchor the 10:00 p.m. At this point in my career, I have different priorities."
Real-Life Lesson in Broadcasting
Syracuse, N.Y.— The Broadcast Journalism Department of Syracuse University's Newhouse School could drop its internships with WTVH(TV) because of a controversial program that mixes paid programming with news elements. Faculty members will try to balance their dismay over the blurring of historic church/state lines with the real-world opportunities the station offers students.
A handful of students from the school are currently interns there, including on the controversial Central New York Live. The program, in a traditional news time slot, combines paid-for interviews and news updates featuring former newspeople and has drawn criticism from competitors and critics and even within station owner Granite Broadcasting, officials said. Granite acknowledged mistakes in the marketing of the program—which appeared to be selling "advertorial segments in a newscast"—and the lack of adequate disclosure but said the program will continue. The journalism department faculty will decide this week whether to continue the internships there. (Faculty member Dow C. Smith offers his thoughts on the controversial program on page 40.)
WHAS-TV Aims for All-Week News Crown
Louisville, Ky.— WHAS-TV plans to expand its local news to Sunday mornings. Good Morning Kentuckiana
will begin April 20, from 7 to 9 a.m. Vice President and General Manager Robert Klingle called the move "a natural progression for us. We have the most-watched morning news Monday through Saturday right now, and we plan to capture the Sunday-morning news crown by year's end." A three-hour special during the Sunday, Feb. 16 ice storm drew a 12 rating/16 share as measured by Nielsen Media Research. Said News Vice President Scott Diener, "If that isn't a sign we should be there, I don't know what is."
Tale of the Tape
WRC-TV Washington anchor Jim Vance (l) demonstrated last week how local man Curtis Mozie (r), in trying to steer boys away from dangerous behavior, used video to tell the stories of many young men killed in his Shaw neighborhood. Vance, one of the market's most veteran newsmen, has followed Mozie's documentary work, which he calls "Tale of the Tape," for years.