CONTAINING LINKS TO 55600 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM DECEMBER 24, 2010
Christmas Eve might just as well have been Christmas Day as far as the news agenda was concerned. All three anchors took the long weekend off. Their substitutes were David Muir on ABC, Anthony Mason on CBS and CNBC's Carl Quintanilla on NBC. The Christmas holiday was the Story of the Day with the usual mix of formulaic news stories on travel and last-minute shopping, plus seasonal features. Only NBC actually led with such holiday fare. The lead on CBS and ABC was related: the massive storm that hit the Pacific coast earlier in the week is heading east, promising a white Boxing Day, if not a White Christmas.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR DECEMBER 24, 2010: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonLast minute shopping completes rebound yearJeremy HubbardNew York
video thumbnailNBCChristmas holiday seasonTravel interrupted by security worries, weatherRon MottAtlanta
video thumbnailNBCChristmas holiday seasonMore pilgrims than usual visit BethlehemMartin FletcherNo Dateline
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonSanta Claus School in Michigan teaches elf loreDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonHit seasonal CDs by TV talent show runners-upDavid MuirNew York
video thumbnailABCChristmas holiday seasonMulticultural children's choir sings carolsRon ClaiborneBoston
video thumbnailCBSMagnet, charter schools offer alternative educationCalifornia allows parents to trigger conversionBen TracyCalifornia
video thumbnailNBCInfants and toddlers child development studiedBabies can speak sign language before they talkRobert BazellLos Angeles
video thumbnailCBSAfghanistan's Taliban regime aftermath, fighting101st Airborne unit on patrol in Kunar ProvinceMandy ClarkAfghanistan
video thumbnailCBSBritish royals coveragePrincess-to-be Kate faces hounding by paparazziMark PhillipsLondon
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
HAVE YOURSELVES A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS Christmas Eve might just as well have been Christmas Day as far as the news agenda was concerned. All three anchors took the long weekend off. Their substitutes were David Muir on ABC, Anthony Mason on CBS and CNBC's Carl Quintanilla on NBC. The Christmas holiday was the Story of the Day with the usual mix of formulaic news stories on travel and last-minute shopping, plus seasonal features. Only NBC actually led with such holiday fare. The lead on CBS and ABC was related: the massive storm that hit the Pacific coast earlier in the week is heading east, promising a white Boxing Day, if not a White Christmas.

The one angle that all three newscasts agreed was worth covering was the prosperous prospects for retailers. NBC's John Yang and CBS' Elaine Quijano essentially reprised the holiday shopping coverage they filed Thursday from the Magnificent Mile and Times Square. ABC positioned Jeremy Hubbard at Macy's in Manhattan. He was even more aggressively promotional on behalf of the retail chains, donating free publicity to discounts offered by Walmart, JC Penney and Toys 'R' Us.


EXPLODING THERMOS WATCH On the holiday travel beat, NBC' Ron Mott combined the usual survey of traffic volume by air-rail-road with the prospect of winter weather delays plus the latest twist on security at airport terminals. Screeners are now checking thermos flasks for hidden bombs. CBS' Bob Orr turned the exploding thermoses into a story in its own right and NBC used a package by Sally Biddell of ITN, its British newsgathering partner, to cover another airline delay angle--snows in France disrupting transAtlantic flights out of Charles de Gaulle Airport. The winter weather was covered by ABC's Barbara Pinto in suburban Chicago and CBS' Don Teague in Dallas, with Weather Channel meteorologist Samantha Moore chipping in a brief forecast on NBC.


INTIFADA FADES AMID BUREAU CUTBACKS Back in the days when all three networks had busy bureaus in Israel to cover the height of the Palestinian intifadas, a Manger Square story with a Bethlehem dateline was de rigueur. In the past four years that tradition has mostly been honored in its breach: in 2007, CBS' Richard Roth filed a voiceover of Palestine footage from London; now NBC's Tel Aviv veteran Martin Fletcher brings us pilgrimage footage from the West Bank--but he offered no dateline for his reporting so he was presumably voicing over too.


FESTIVE FEATURES ABC's Person of the Week was Tom Valent, who runs the Santa Claus School in Midland Mich. Substitute anchor David Muir quizzed him on elf trivia. The Holiday Express stages Christmas parties at homeless shelters and psychiatric hospitals, and Natalie Morales joined in the song-and-dance on NBC to make sure they were Making a Difference. Trees of Joy is the name of the Silicon Valley spruce giveaway program John Blackstone profiled for CBS' American Spirit.


JACKIE EVANCHO IS NO BOB DYLAN Christmas music was the theme of a couple of reports on ABC. Ron Claiborne brought us carols from the multicultural Boston Children's Chorus and David Muir had the temerity to compare this season's hit CDs--by TV talent show losers Susan Boyle and Jackie Evancho--with the stylings of Bing Crosby. What nerve! A couple of weeks ago NBC assigned Lee Cowan to the same Boyle-Evancho angle. In the interests of taste, or perhaps for reasons of copyright, Cowan's package was not posted on line as a videostream. I prefer to recall Cowan's Christmas music classic from last year, featuring the Jewish tributes to Jesus by Barry Manilow and Bob Dylan.

Dylan's Little Drummer Boy is disarmingly sincere.


BEN TRACY DESERVES THUMBS UP Back in October, Tyndall Report complained about the credulous coverage given to charter schools on all three nightly newscasts. Only the successes get coverage; botched charters might as well never have happened. Simplistic Waiting for Superman thinking portrays charters as a cure-all for whatever ails the nation's public schools.

So a thumbs up for Ben Tracy's latest entry in CBS' Reading, Writing & Reform series. He covered California's so-called trigger law, which empowers parents to convert any ordinary public school into a charter format. Just such a trigger has been pulled over a grade school in inner-city Compton. Even though grades have been improving at McKinley Elementary for two straight years, those changes were not fast enough for 62% of parents. They approved the trigger amid accusations of trickery and intimidation against would-be reformers, and counterthreats of ratting parents out to immigration authorities for deportation.

Guess who is at the center of this "nasty fight," as CBS' Tracy called it: Newsweek's cover girl and Waiting for Superman favorite Michelle Rhee. The onetime Schools Chancellor, NBC Rehema Ellis reminded us in October, rubbed parents and teachers the wrong way in the nation's capital before she was fired after her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, was defeated for reelection.


DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY NBC has filed a couple of interesting child-oriented features in the last couple of days. Thursday, Kerry Sanders walked us through the experimental Sudbury School system, which puts grade school students in charge of their own curriculum and discipline. There are two dozen Sudbury schools nationwide, in operation since the '60s. Now Robert Bazell tells us about mother-baby classes that teach American Sign Language to eight-month-old infants before they can articulate words. Signshine Schools in Los Angeles charge $180 for six sessions.


MEANWHILE, OVERSEAS CBS wants to remind us that non-Christmas-related news occurring abroad actually exists. Its choices, however, did not depart from predictable beats. Mandy Clark was in Kunar Province in Afghanistan, embedded with a patrol from the 101st Airborne Division, trying to clear roads of rival checkpoints operated by Taliban guerrillas. Mark Phillips was in London where he explained Britain's "red carpet" privacy rule that protects celebrities from paparazzi. Having his cake and eating it too, the celebrity-to-be Phillips was worried about will be a princess next spring. So he subjected Kate Middleton to yet more publicity by filing a story about her looming lack of privacy.