Thursday, February 12, 2015


     Maybe it's all the caffeine, or 24 hours of cable news yackers. We are wired and wireless and trending and our analytics are almost important as the Dow. Whether it's the spirit of our tweet or post or actual comment in a meeting, we've become a nation obsessed with snark, the 2015 version of snide. Invective has infected.
     It will take social archaeologists to explain why. In the meantime we all seem to suffer through a prolonged season of nastiness.
     Television maybe the greatest purveyor, or perhaps it's social media, but its omnipresent and it is making jack asses out of many of us and it threatens civilization. At least it threatens civilized conversation, dialogue and even debate. So many seem driven to be, dare I invoke a 20th Century and politically incorrect phrase, bitchy.  No gender reference here, simply the attitude. Nasty.
     The Brian Williams sadness has been a magnet for a lot of invective and scorn. It doesn't take much, but this has been a bonanza for snark masters.
     The masters of nasty live in the comments section of the Internet. I picture desperately unhappy and unbalanced people unloading on all the failures, misery and unhappiness of their lives with their lethal toned diatribes and rants. Most of this carping deserves to be ignored. But for many it is bait and thus the word battle of the nasties ensue. 
     "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"  If we can genre and time hop and borrow a sentiment.  Life is too precious to permit others to show their butt headedness.  It's time for an attitude change, on tv, in social media, at the coffee shop and anywhere else where sarcasm has replaced reason.
Let's get back to plain old fashioned arguing without the snide, eye rolling, tongue clucking, sassiness.
 A tribute to California spring as an antidote to those of you caught in winter.

  Things are growing well in "Indiana" with a bumper crop of lettuce.

   As the sad destruction of Brian Williams and NBC's credibility plays out before us I post a shot of what I will call the "safety bench."
   This is the conference table where for 3 years I presided as the News Director, the senior news executive, of a division that provided programming for CBS, CW and Univision affiliated television stations. 
    We met here in the morning with our day side staff and again in the early afternoon with our evening staff.  We were responsible for at least 7 hours of programming each day across three stations and the accountability started here.
     Reporters, producers, photographers, editors, graphic artists, assignment staff and promotion people would gather as we planned a days coverage and approach.  But we also evaluated.  What did we do well in the previous 24 hour cycle?  Where did we mess up?  Why?  How could we have done it better?  What can we bring to coverage that will make the viewers investment of time worth it?  Every day.  It is not common for the senior executive to guide the session, but I thought it needed to be done. I had the best support staff available in my assistant News Director Kevin, executive Producer Stacy, Assignment Manager Jim, unit managers and a great team of producers.  
     There was a tendency in many shops to "get rolling," to get out of the meeting.  We took the time to evaluate, analyze, criticize, compliment and to measure our work product against our mission/vision statement and our operating principles.  
      Our team did well, very well. As I read about the Brian Williams credibility issue, I can't help but wonder how it might have been different if he had been held accountable by a process that didn't allow ego, big salary or title to filter him from the scrutiny our staff sustained everyday.
            I am thrilled to hear from former employees and colleagues who say those were great years. Some tell me they were the best of their careers. It was all about a mission, a purpose and putting the interests of viewers above all else.

       See you down the trail.


  1. In my many years in the business, I found meetings to be almost universally a complete waste of time that could have been better spent. But I'm glad you had a good time.

    1. Well, they were not always a "good time", but they were a good use of time. We had a hill to climb and a sense of mission to establish. It worked. Ratings improved-staff morale improved-the product vastly improved-Station of the Year 2 out of 3 years---etc, etc. It's not that meetings are by nature a waste of time, it's how that time is managed.
      Sorry yours were not better-but maybe you were already at a #1 station. We had to work to get there.

  2. Replies
    1. How can you not? Fred assigned me to shadow him during by first week at WIBC.
      I thought, well, I'm in the big city now!

  3. It is unfortunate Tom, our government at all levels and most businesses aren't managed the way you guided Wish TV. The world would be much more hospitable and rational.

  4. Very kind of you. We also had fun, and believed in the value of what were doing.

  5. Like Bruce, I've never been to a meeting that amounted to anything. But I'm an artist and artists don't do well at meetings. To my knowledge, no great art has ever been created by committee.

  6. I rather preferred the unofficial way you ran the show at Ch13. Didn't have the level of perfection attained later at WISH, but damned little happened on a broadcast you anchored that you didn't figure out a way to control.

  7. Great producers and directors helped us rock and roll at Ch 13. We loved breaking news. As for the other stuff, we had the support of staff. The trust was gratifying.

    btw-love that id shot of yours!!!