tyndall report posts
Fires Grab Headlines yet Syria Grabs AirtimeFires Grab Headlines yet Syria Grabs Airtime
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-17T09:48:38-08:00The three newscasts were unanimous that the Black Forest fire, north of Colorado Springs, warranted the lead slot. The wildfire has killed two people and destroyed 400 homes: Miguel Almaguer filed on the fires for NBC for the third straight day, Clayton Sandell on ABC for the third straight day, and Barry Petersen on CBS for the second. Yet the choice for lead did not translate into Story of the Day. That was the decision by the White House to supply weapons to some opposition militias fighting in the civil war in Syria. NBC and ABC used substitute anchors, Natalie Morales and David Muir respectively.
Both NBC's Richard Engel and ABC's Alex Marquardt filed from the region, Marquardt along the Syrian border, Engel from Istanbul. Both relied on clips from YouTube and other outsourced video newsgathering to depict the mismatch on the battlefield. NBC's Engel saw government forces mounting a successful counteroffensive against the rebels, in alliance with the Revolutionary Guard from Iran, with Shiite militias from Iraq, and Hezbollah forces from Lebanon. The Battle of Aleppo is next.
From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin reported that the Central Intelligence Agency will be in charge of delivering ammunition and weaponry to the opposition militias, forces that are already receiving food, medical supplies and vehicles from the United States. As for the conventional military, Martin pointed to the Pentagon's F-15 fighter jets and missile batteries, which are located in Jordan, next door. Martha Raddatz, ABC's national security correspondent, (at the tail of the Marquardt videostream) reassured us that the United States would not deploy any soldiers in Syria.
Will the CIA's weapons fall into of the hands of Islamist militias, the ones that the United States does not support? "Guaranteed," exclaimed CBS' Elizabeth Palmer, from London.]]>Friday's FindingsFriday's Findings
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-17T09:48:11-08:00here and here) last fall giant backyard trees topple over, crushing cars, destroying home roofs. How does that happen? His colleague Ginger Zee repeated ABC's explanatory Virtual View computer animation, the one Kerley narrated last November.
Both ABC and NBC ran a closing feel-good feature in the aftermath of nature's fury.
ABC's substitute anchor David Muir designated the students of Edison NJ's Martin Luther King School as his network's Persons of the Week for helping out their pen-pals in the tornado-ravaged Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma. Those pen-pals afforded Muir the pretext to rerun schoolma'am Robin Dziedzic's twister video, which Muir had snared as his Exclusivelast month.
NBC's Katy Tur showed the charity Operation Prom Making a Difference in the Rockaways in Queens NY, where the Channel View School for Research would have had its senior prom wiped out by Superstorm Sandy if not for its philanthropy, and the sponsorship of (free plug) Men's Wearhouse. Catch the pink paisley waistcoat!
CBS' weather feature saw Dean Reynolds return to Bob Bleuer's farm in Channahon Ill. Remember the drought that Reynolds showed us shriveling the cornbelt last July? Well, if your prayers were for rain, you might find that they had been granted -- in buckets.
Also following up was substitute anchor David Muir on ABC. Last November Muir's Made in America feature had him travel to Cabot Pa to offer free publicity to Loggerhead Tools, the firm that makes the Bionic Wrench. Loggerhead had lost its wrench contract with Sears, undercut by the retailer's own Made-in-China Craftsman brand. Now Muir brandishes the stack of supportive e-mails from ABC News viewers endorsing Loggerhead's original. Muir claimed credit for helping to fix the wrench up with a new retail vendor, Walgreen's drugstores, and even offered his personal product endorsement: he bought one for his own father, for a Father's Day gift.
She styles herself on Twitter as an author, a dog lover, a hair icon, a pants suit aficionado, a glass-ceiling crasher. She has launched a pre-school childcare campaign dubbed Too Small To Fail. She is the topic of the first reported package of Campaign 2016 on any of the three nightly newscasts. She was covered by NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who managed to slip in self-serving cross-promotion for her network's late night comedy star Jimmy Fallon as an extra. She herself teases that her future is "TBD." Her name is Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Lavishing free publicity on the State Department and the Coast Guard, CBS sent Margaret Brennan off to a training camp in West Virginia, where diplomats learn to avoid carbombs and kidnappers, and NBC sent Lester Holt to a training camp in North Carolina, where swimmers learn to rescue foundering mariners from helicopters.
The Ford Foundation was credited by substitute anchor Natalie Morales for underwriting NBC's coverage of poverty, with its series In Plain Sight. You would not think that a news division would need to be paid an incentive to put poverty on its news agenda and if you look at this playlist of domestic poverty stories from the first six months of this year you would see that NBC has not lagged its rivals. Nevertheless, this was only NBC's tenth such story in 24 weeks: Kevin Tibbles on the 13m workers in the fast food industry, averaging an annual income of only $18K for full-time work.
Investigating the state of firearms control laws, on Thursday, CBS' Manuel Bojorquez told us how a mentally-ill Minnesota man who hates cars was able to get the gun to shoot up passing SUVs. Now, CBS' Carter Evans tells us about the online loophole that allowed John Zawahri to construct the semi-automatic rifle that shot up Santa Monica College a week ago. AR15.com was his firearms resource.
How neat are the engineering students at the University of Maryland, channeling Leonardo da Vinci? Look at the 82lb whirligig that can hover as high as eight feet in the air, almost enough to win Sikorsky Helicopter's prize. See Steve Hartman go On The Road on CBS.
Well, there was not much sisterly solidarity in the way Elizabeth Vargas reached out to Talyaa Liera in her preview of 20/20's primetime special With Parents Like These on ABC. Talyaa likes painting, writing, music, and Tai Chi, and lives a continent away from Nathaniel, Eric, and Serena, her three children in Pennsylvania. What does that make her? "A west coast Bohemian," sniffed Vargas.
Here is Robert Bazell's playlist over the last six-years-or-so as he departs NBC News for Yale University. Here is the tribute to Bazell filed by substitute anchor Natalie Morales.]]>Syria & Genetics DeadlockedSyria & Genetics Deadlocked
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-15T08:34:49-08:00It's a tie! It turned out that the total time spent on the civil war in Syria by the three newscasts and on the Supreme Court decision about biotech patents was precisely the same: 8.6 minutes. None of the networks led with biotech, however, while both NBC, with substitute anchor Lester Holt, and CBS led with Syria. The leads break the tie so Syria is Story of the Day. ABC, which also had a substitute anchor, David Muir, decided to lead with the wildfires near Colorado Springs, making this the ninth weekday out of the last 14 on which ABC has led with wild nature. By contrast CBS has led with natural disasters three times out of the same 14, NBC four times.
Ever since anchor Diane Sawyer arrived at World News from Good Morning America, ABC's evening newscast has been inflected with the tabloid, celebrity breeziness of morning fare. Terry Moran's coverage of the Supreme Court ruling, which rejected patents for the discovery of naturally-existing genetic material, inflected too far. Moran went way beyond dropping Angelina Jolie's name, since she had been a customer for the BRCA test that was the subject of the lawsuit. He actually made the story about her, including five different shots of Jolie's pulchritude on the red carpet.
Admittedly, NBC's Pete Williams used Jolie too, but compared with Moran, only in passing. On CBS, Jan Crawford told us that agribusiness patents for genetically-modified food survive the Court's ban and Anthony Mason followed up with the impact of the ruling on Amgen, Genentech, and GlaxoSmithKline. ABC's in-house physician Jennifer Ashton (at the tail of the Moran videostream) encouraged patients with BRCA cancer in the family to undergo the screening, patent or no patent.
All three White House correspondents covered the double-barreled news on Syria. The United States claims it has proof that the deaths of at least 100 out of the 90,000 killed in the civil war there were caused by the regime's limited use of Sarin nerve gas. Simultaneously, the Pentagon will supply some small arms to some opposition militias. NBC's Chuck Todd named the recipient as the Supreme Military Council, whatever that is. ABC's report was filed by Jonathan Karl, with an emphasis on the Sarin, downplaying the weapons. CBS' main report was filed from London by Clarissa Ward, with a recap of several now-slain rebels she had met during her reporting forays inside Syria, following Major Garrett's brief stand-up at the White House. Ward remembered Idlib: that extraordinary moustache, and the ambulance thief.
As for natural disasters, the Derecho that forecaster Ginger Zee predicted on Wednesday with her Virtual View from ABC's computer animators never materialized. NBC's Tom Costello and ABC's David Kerley filed on the eastward advance of an ordinary severe storm. The Weather Channel's Chris Warren forecast its eventual disappearance on NBC.
The wildfires, on the other hand, are burning near Colorado Springs with undiminished intensity. All three networks had a correspondent on the scene as the evacuation of 13,000 homes was ordered: NBC's Miguel Almaguer, ABC's Clayton Sandell, and CBS' Barry Petersen.]]>Thursday's ThoughtsThursday's Thoughts
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-15T08:34:22-08:00Brian Ross was more interested in Edward Snowden, the confessed leaker of top secrets, than the cyberspooking itself. Ross was somewhat ad hominem against Snowden, likening him to the 70s-era's Philip Agee, calling him a high school dropout and a would-be male model, and finding a psychologist to diagnose self-absorbed egotism.
There is an organization called the Authentics Foundation, which is trying to crack down on the street trade for Big Apple tourists in knock-off Louis Vuitton, Tony Burch, Coach, Burberry, Ferragamo. ABC's Linsey Davis gave free publicity to Valerie Salembier, the well-dressed matron who insists on authenticity -- and passed on tips about where the LV logo should be if you want your counterfeit to look like the genuine article.
I noted on Wednesday that CBS, alone of the three newscasts, has followed the prosecution of mobster-turned-FBI-informant James Whitey Bulger for reverting to racketeering. Now Carter Evans adds one more chapter, including publicity for Dick Lehr's book Whitey. When Bulger was living incognito at the Princess Eugenia apartments in Santa Monica under the name Charlie Gasko, he befriended a neighbor, who eventually ratted him out. The neighbor's name was Bond -- Josh Bond.
Last week CBS' Seth Doane brought us the case of Blaec Lammers, a mentally-ill 21-year-old, who was able to purchase an arsenal of firearms, background check and all, because his diagnosis had not involved his being involuntarily committed to an institution. Lammers' parents had to organize for their own son to be arrested. Now CBS' Manuel Bojorquez brings us the case of Nhan Tran, a mentally-ill 34-year-old, who is so enraged by the sound of passing cars that he shoots bullets at them. He was able to purchase his gun, background check and all, because his diagnosis had not involved his being involuntarily committed to an institution. This February, one of Tran's bullets went through an SUV window and killed Devin Aryal, aged nine.
Speaking of ill mental health, if you are a babyboomer and you are going demented -- losing your empathy, changing your personality, shedding your inhibitions, rarely speaking, moving compulsively -- you might not be getting Alzheimer's Disease, NBC's Robert Bazell reassured us. Well, reassuring it was not. This incurable dementia may be frontal temporal instead. You will end up institutionalized, overweight, and dead within years.
I told you ABC was celebrity oriented. It was the only newscast to find the journey to Splitsville by Rupert Murdoch, the tabloid newspapermen and media mogul, newsworthy. In what way did Rebecca Jarvis find his soon-to-be-ex-wife Wendi newsworthy? She was the woman in pink who foiled the cream pie thrower.
Two good-news education stories to close NBC's newscast in two days: Wednesday's Education Nation saw Rehema Ellis at the above-average Annapolis High School in Maryland; now John Yang's Making a Difference brings us the graduating high school seniors of Kalamazoo, where every single one is eligible for a scholarship to a state college. The Kalamazoo Promise was featured on CBS, back when Katie Couric was anchor, six years ago.
Get your shoes shined in Pittsburgh and you may be helping uninsured pediatric hospital patients pay for surgery. Byron Pitts explained that it will only happen if you tip well. That is America Strong on ABC.]]>NSA Spies Hang On, but Mother Nature LoomsNSA Spies Hang On, but Mother Nature Looms
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-14T06:43:29-08:00The National Security Agency kept its streak alive as Story of the Day for the fifth straight weekday -- but only by the skin of its teeth. None of the newscasts selected cyberespionage as its lead item. Instead nature, red in tooth and claw, grabbed headlines. CBS chose the wildfire devouring the Black Forest north of Colorado Springs. ABC and NBC, with substitute anchor Lester Holt, led with the threat of a Derecho storm system, stretching from Iowa to Indiana.
As for the NSA, ABC's Brian Ross covered the Hong Kong angle: Edward Snowden, the confessed leaker, told the South China Morning Post that the NSA facility in Hawaii, where he worked as an IT troubleshooter for the contractor Booz|Allen|Hamilton, was the hub for computer hacking against the People's Republic of China by US cyberspies. NBC covered the Hong Kong angle by shoehorning Ian Williams stand-up into Andrea Mitchell's report from the DC bureau. Both Mitchell and CBS' Bob Orr focused on the testimony of NSA Director Keith Alexander before a Senate committee. Alexander asserted that the spying programs that Snowden had exposed had helped prevent dozens of terrorist events.
Unfortunately, the correspondents let Director Alexander's claim just lie there, unamplified. Which particular program -- the Internet PRISM program or the Verizon telephone log database? How many is dozens and over what period of time? Was that preventive help indispensible or ancillary or supplementary? And what is the definition of an event?
On the weather front, ABC's stormchaser Ginger Zee did not have an actual Derecho to report on so she had her network's computer animators imagine a Virtual View of how shelf clouds form the system's characteristic bow shape. NBC was less graphic, relying on the Weather Channel's Mike Seidel for a straightforward forecast. CBS did not consider the possibility of such a storm to be newsworthy enough to warrant a correspondent.
Neither did CBS use one of its own staffers for its lead item from the fire zone in Colorado. It relied on KCNC-TV, its local affiliate in Denver instead. Kelly Werthmann won some network airtime. NBC and ABC each had their own reporters on the scene: Miguel Almaguer and Clayton Sandell. Tourism promoters in Colorado will at least be gratified that all three newscasts included a plug for its scenic and historic Royal Gorge Bridge.]]>Wednesday's WordsWednesday's Words
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-14T06:43:04-08:00Story of the Day back then. The upshot is that the Pentagon has successfully resisted that change: in personal terms, Sen Carl Levin overruled Sen Kirsten Gillibrand. NBC and CBS both covered it, with their Congressional correspondents Kelly O'Donnell and Nancy Cordes. ABC, which has been less interested in the scandal of military rapes all along, did not file the update.
The public relations flacks at AAA had a gala day, securing blanket coverage on all three newscasts by inviting correspondents from the DC bureaus to be guinea pigs at its distracted driving simulator in Landover. Watch ABC's David Kerley and NBC's Tom Costello and CBS' Sharyl Attkisson strap on brain-scanning helmets behind the wheel in order to test whether they could talk to a text-messaging machine and keep their eye on a green light simultaneously. AAA wants to discourage Detroit from making cars loaded with voice-recognition technology. It succeeded in having all three correspondents replicate its red-flag research findings.
Also covered by all three newscasts was the lung transplant surgery for Sarah Murnaghan, a ten-year-old cystic fibrosis patient in Philadelphia. NBC's Stephanie Gosk followed the public relations campaign that the Murnaghan family had mounted -- from the news media to Capitol Hill to federal court -- to get the eligibility rules changed allowing the girl to jump the queue to receive lungs that would normally have been transplanted into an adult. CBS' in-house physician Jon LaPook narrated his network's computer animation of a lobe being lopped off adult lungs in order to fit into a child's chest. ABC's David Wright treated this queue jumping not as an ethics violation but as a family's vindication.
Now, look at the difference between the ways in which Wright and LaPook treat the girl's exclamation of joy at the fact that she is eligible for a transplant. Dr LaPook told us that the exclamation was in response to the news that a judge had overturned the federal guidelines and that, subsequently, the girl had become sicker and fallen into a coma before going into surgery, which was still taking place as the newscast went on air.
Now, look at Wright, airing the same video of her exclamation as he tells us: "Today she got her lungs." To me, David Wright looks flat-out deceptive. His report implies that young Sarah is jumping for joy after getting her new set of lungs when, in fact, if LaPook is to be believed, she was at the time comatose and still in surgery. Whom do you believe? Dr Jon? Or Mr Wright?
Since James Whitey Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica two years ago, CBS' Jim Axelrod has kept an eye on his racketeering prosecution (here, here, and here). Now CBS hands off to Elaine Quijano for the beginning of Bulger's trial.
ABC's trick of lavishing free publicity on smartphone apps and consumer Websites in order to give penny-pinching advice is usually the province of Paula Faris and her Real Money series (just in the last couple of months Faris has offered such tips to commuters, to baseball fans, to would-be home sellers, to surgery patients, and to college applicants). This time ABC's advice was for airline passengers, but it was not offered by Faris and Real Money. Instead Linsey Davis, cross-promoting The Lookout in primetime, made hipmunk.com her smartphone app of choice.
If you look at Rehema Ellis' education playlist over the past 18 months, you will see that she covers K-12 roughly twice as much as higher ed. True to form, her Education Nation takes a trip to principal Donald Lilley's well-mentored Annapolis High School in Maryland, where, just like in Lake Wobegon, the students -- of all races -- are now above average.
ABC has a soft spot for TED talks. John Donvan keeps that tradition alive by sharing Susan Austin's dancing submarine wheelchair.]]>Edward Snowden: Leaker Past and FutureEdward Snowden: Leaker Past and Future
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-13T06:36:44-08:00For the fourth weekday in a row, the National Security Agency leaks were Story of the Day. ABC and CBS both led with the confessed leaker Edward Snowden, the now-fired IT troubleshooter at Booz|Allen|Hamilton: CBS' Bob Orr looked at the serious prospects for his future, either extradition or asylum; ABC's Brian Ross at personal trivia about his past -- Lindsay Mills, the girl he left behind in Hawaii, was a member of an acrobatic troupe, or as Ross put it, a "pole dancer." NBC, with substitute anchor Lester Holt, decided to lead from Istanbul, where riot police used tear gas and water cannon to clear protestors from Taksim Square.
Both ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Andrea Mitchell folded in other aspects of their network's coverage to flesh out coverage of the NSA. Ross reported that Snowden would be prosecuted under the Espionage Act -- but not for treason -- even though he used a soundbite from Speaker John Boehner on Good Morning America denouncing Snowden as a "traitor." As for Mitchell, she threw to her colleague Ian Williams, who stood outside the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong, where Snowden is no longer staying.
NBC's Mitchell gave a hat tip to Salon.com for its background on how Snowden executed his leak: he contacted moviemaker Laura Poitras after he saw The Program, her video profile of former NSA spy William Denny. Snowden's tip-off that he was Poitras' source when they met in a Hong Kong hotel lobby was that he was the one playing with a Rubik's Cube.
CBS assigned Wyatt Andrews to a follow-up on Big Data. He pointed out that Google collects more detailed information on individuals for its data mining and advertising sales than the National Security Agency. A key difference is that Google's collection is with our permission -- permission that we grant, whether we know it or not, whenever we communicate by Gmail, type in a search query in Google.com, or keep an Android smart phone active.
As for the police crackdown against protestors in Istanbul, NBC's Richard Engel proved he was there by talking through his gas mask; CBS' Holly Williams proved she was there by wiping tears from her uncovered eyes. On ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer used slippery language to introduce Alex Marquardt as being "on the crackdown" and Marquardt's report showed himself mingling with protestors. But that had been earlier in the twelve-day showdown. His actual report was filed, remotely and tearlessly, from Tel Aviv.]]>Tuesday's TidbitsTuesday's Tidbits
Andrew Tyndall2013-06-13T06:35:33-08:00Kelly O'Donnell filed a brief stand-up on parliamentary procedure. ABC's Jim Avila filed a background feature on support for increased visas from the Chamber of Commerce, illustrated by the case of Kunal Bahl, founder of Snapdeal.com, who was obliged to launch his online commerce site in his native India. ABC grabbed a twofer from George Stephanopoulos' sitdown with Speaker John Boehner on Good Morning America: quoted by Ross on NSA espionage, and by Avila on immigration legislation.
It is unclear whether a story emerging from the State Department is a big deal -- or any deal at all. John Miller at CBS claimed an exclusive for his original reporting, but it was not deemed important enough by the Evening News to give him airtime: he filed it on CBS' This Morning instead. ABC's Jonathan Karl followed up on the underlying investigation into diplomatic sexual peccadilloes: an ambassador and some security personnel may have consorted with prostitutes. CBS' Miller follows up on the meta story -- not about the prostitution but about whether Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy suppressed an investigation into it. Kennedy denies the suppression, and Ambassador Howard Gutman denies the insinuation that his walks through a Brussels park were for procuration. NBC did not mention pin-striped sex at all.
It is no surprise that NBC picked up on the news that the majority of the consumer revenue that banks take in from fees and penalties is derived from overdraft charges: 60% in all, amounting to more than $12bn annually. NBC's Lisa Myers has focused on banks' overdraft fee gouging since 2009. This time Myers' colleague Tom Costello landed the assignment.
NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman offered free publicity to the latest miniaturized Bluetooth-compatible digital design for hearing aides -- only $4,600 each -- for all of us babyboomers who have blasted our ears by turning the stereo up to eleven. Dr Nancy noted that a $2 pair of earplugs represents an ounce of prevention.
Reporters who confuse doing journalism with being a character in their own reality show…
…see NBC's Kevin Tibbles settle down with some popcorn in his black-&-white convertible to watch a double bill at The Cascade (no he did not sneak in under a blanket).
Hey, ABC, how about some original newsgathering? It is called "news" after all:
If you thought you had seen the falling-over Prime Minister of Australia in Amy Robach's report before, well you did, thanks to Sharyn Alfonsi last October.
If you thought you had seen Mike Olinski's stop-motion video of an haboob sandstorm in David Wright's report before, well you did, thanks to Neal Karlinsky last September.
And if something seemed familiar in the free publicity by anchor Diane Sawyer for the book Safe Kids, Smart Parents by psychologist Rebecca Bailey, well it could have been the video of the failed child abduction that Pierre Thomas told us about last July, or the Prime Time Live video from 2005 that Cecilia Vega recycled last month, or that fact that Dr Bailey's famous patient was Jaycee Dugard, whom anchor Sawyer herself profiled in a primetime special in July 2011.
Why not just change the name to ABC World Recycled?]]>