In the News
August 18, 2002
How do I start this column? That was the question I kept asking myself when I sat down to write it. As a TV guy, I have never written an article for a magazine. Now I have my own column. You see, I'm the CEO, editor, reporter, and the head muckraker for the website F-ckedTelevision.com. [Ed. note: You know where "u" belongs.] Yep, the website with the bad name that has the TV biz talking. I am loved or hated depending on whom you ask. I really don't care either way. I just want to tell it like it is. And now I can tell it here.
Not that running a website isn't work. I get hundreds of emails daily from people who want to tell me what is going on at their stations: who just got fired, who was hired, and who is doing whom. I pick the best stories, make a few phone calls, and upload to the site. No deadlines and no pressure. Now I have to come up with a column every month. I have no clue how to get this thing started.
Let's try this:
The TV news industry is on life support. It is in critical but stable condition. I think that it will pull through, but first we have to remove the cancer growing, inside the TV body (is this too sappy?).
We must get rid of news directors that sit in their office all day and talk on the phone and send emails. Any news director that cannot tell you his lead story at 4 p.m. for the 5 p.m. news needs to be cut out of the business (OK, that sounds good, I'll leave that, not as sappy).
Any anchor that walks in at 3:30 p.m., does not write a story, but instead phones his friends and then heads to the make-up room at 4:15 p.m. also needs to get the blade. Any GM that is trying to sell advertising in the newscast, not the commercials but in the newscast, needs to go as well. Any owner that is more worried about the stockholder than the photographer...gone!
What if people that cared about their staff and the product they put on the air ran this industry? What if reporters in Top 50 markets had more than two years experience and made more that $23,000 a year? What if producers and writers did not come straight from Wendy's to the TV news game? I bet the industry would not only be off life support, but would be thriving.
You know what? That shit is way too boring for an article. I don't think I am going to start it that way. How about this?
In asking over 35 photographers, both male and female, 21 of them said they have had sex with a reporter at one time or another. Sounds like the Assignment Desk needs to do a better job of tracking the crews.
No, that's not good÷sex is too easy (especially for some news photographers). I want my first column to have some class, be a must-read, something that will have people talking around the newsroom. Something like... Does Meredith boss Kevin O'Brien ever sleep? Everyone I talk to says this guy is on the go all the time. How long will Bill Applegate, general manager, WUAB-TV and WOIO-TV, really stay in Cleveland and why is his news director looking for assistant ND jobs in much smaller markets?
How the hell did I get a column and not WFLA News Director and email spammer Forrest Carr? That guy could bang out 800 words while standing on his head. Then again, he told the St. Petersburg Times F-ckedTelevision.com was a "vicious and evil" website. Now that I think about it, I'm glad he does not have his own column.
Will CBS ever get a morning show that can get higher ratings than color bars? Speaking of color bars, why don't we see them anymore? Is it because the station can make money off infomercials in the middle of the night, but cannot sell color bars? I think someone should throw up a sponsor's logo on color bars. What the hell, stations sell everything else.
Speaking of selling, why do news departments and sales departments hate each other so much? Neither would exist without the other. OK, maybe the sales people would live, but they still suck.
All of those are good thoughts, but I doubt I could do an entire column on them. I guess I'll just have to think about this some more and next month I'll know how to start my column. Hey, this is my first try, and it can only get better (it sure as hell can't get any worse).
If you like what you just read, then my name is Scott Jones. If you didn't like it, then I'm Forrest Carr.
Scott Jones is a former photographer, reporter, assignment editor, producer, executive producer, and Top 20 news director. He runs www.ftvlive.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.