Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Newscast comparisons

It's time to compare newscasts! Let's look at tonight's 11 p.m. newscasts.

WNEP
  • Wilkes-Barre flood control projects
  • Weather update
  • Mahanoy City fire
  • Eynon robbery
  • Big bear in Lycoming County
  • Soliders heading to/from Iraq
  • Christmas train
  • NYC Christmas tree

    WBRE
  • Mahanoy City fire
  • Scotrun plant accident
  • I-180 crash/fire
  • Foundation 58
  • Rendell in Pittston
  • Hazelton dregding lawsuit
  • Eynon robbery
  • Job application robbery
  • Consumer corner segment

    WYOU
  • Hazelton dregding lawsuit
  • Eynon robbery
  • Mahanoy City fire
  • Toys-R-Us fire
  • Scotrun plant accident
  • I-180 crash/fire
  • Muncy/Hazle Twp. flooding
  • Weather update
  • Rendell in Pittston

    All three newscasts seemed evenly stacked tonight. You've got the usual fires here and crashes there. WNEP deviated with leading off on flood control in Wilkes-Barre, and also included stories about the kid who bagged himself a huge bear, and the Christmas train. Now let's look at WBRE and WYOU. Not surprisingly, their newscasts are somewhat similar, though WBRE's Foundation 58 story was a nice break from the usual.

    I'll never understand the reason behind TV packages for house fires, which WBRE and WNEP had. The package usually goes like this:
    FIREFIGHTER: Blah blah blaze blah blah fully involved blah blah cause of fire blah blah.
    HOMEOWNER: Blah blah lost my stuff blah blah got out OK blah blah glad to be alive blah blah.

    Exciting? Hardly. Covering this fire isn't the issue, because it wasn't a small kitchen fire, it burned through four homes. That's worth noting in the newscast. But if you're going to do a package on a house fire, let's do more than the usual "Oh look a fire" deal.
  • 15 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is 16's lead story the same flood control project story that WBRE covered last week when the project started? What's up with that, its not news until 16 covers it???

    4:16 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think another reason for the package has to be the fact it was in Mahanoy City and they, the stations, just don't cover news out of the area all the often.

    4:17 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Everyone covered the flood control project a few weeks back. I think 16 was there Wednesday night because people were actually there and doing something.

    5:32 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yes, any story is not news until Snoozewatch 16 covers it. Nobody watches the WBRE & WYOU joke, so if it's not on WNEP, the story never happened.

    6:12 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't know if the anonymous post above, the one from 6:12PM, was being facetious or not. I hope so.

    One can think of WBRE and WYOU as one pleases, but I find the widespread blind devotion to 16, which produces a newscast dramatic for its sameness to the other two stations in the market, sad.

    It's not difficult to explain the popularity of 16. Old habits die hard. Back in the day...early 70's maybe?...16 departed from the norm...ditched the gray background with the handpainted logo and one camera focused on a plain looking newsreader to a "flashy" set, a coiffure and an equally flashy set of teeth in the head of Gary Essex. Oooh! New, different, and exciting! It had happened ten years earlier in big markets and like so many other things, finally arrived here. Give them credit for being the first ones in here. It was a shiny thing that drew attention. And it got viewers. That gave 16 a foothold, viewers developed habits, that lent credence to "the news station", and they've never looked back.

    But except for the window dressing, they are indistinguishable from 22 and 28. If you don't believe that, you've been sucked in too. C'mon, Marisa Burke? I guess she's fine if you like being shouted at by the mean lady principal. Mike Lewis? Is he related to Al "Granpaw Munster" Lewis? Same jaw. Scott Schaefer? Please. Julie Sidoni? Reminds me of a cupcake. There's nothing at all superior about the product there. Just perception. And sadly, perception is reality.

    9:10 PM  
    Blogger Howard Beale said...

    There's no doubt in my mind that WNEP has one hell of a following. Chalk it up to fancy music, fancy graphics, fancy anchors, and a promotions department that works overtime.

    But you have to admit that WNEP does put serious backing behind their news department. They have a large staff of reporters and photographers covering all corners of the market, a vehicle fleet that rivals Motorworld, and a helicopter they own, not lease. I think the New York Times Broadcast Group practically throws bundles of cash at WNEP.

    Nexstar Broadcasting seems like it couldn't care less about WBRE or WYOU. Since they took over, the quality of news coming from both stations has sadly declined. It's not like WBRE and WYOU have an inexperienced staff. Some of their employees have more experience than five WNEP employees tied together.

    But Nexstar isn't going to throw any money at WBRE or WYOU to improve and expand their news-gathering methods. Instead, let's rebrand the station, let's hire some one-man-band reporters to save money, and let's remind everyone that we're on their side! That's what I call perception, except this perception is coming from Perry Sook and the rest of his retarded henchmen.

    Still, WBRE or WYOU could uncover the next Watergate and discover that life on other planets do exist, and people would still watch WNEP and obsess over Paola Giangacomo and complain about Joe Snedeker.

    Yes, old habits do die hard.

    10:32 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I like Snedeker. He may goof around more than you like, but what I admire about him is you know that if it wouldn't cost him his job (and self-preservation IS an instinct) he'd be happy to tell anyone, his boss, your boss, you, me, whoever that we all may gladly go screw ourselves. Some would call that arrogant and maybe so. But there IS a little bit of arrogance in telling it like it is, or seemingly so, particularly if you're on the s _ _ _ _ y end of the stick. It's all relative. And keep in mind that essentially, people watch 16 in the morning, and by association to a lesser degree throughout the day, because of Snedeker. It's why they let him return to his job after he tried teaching again and why they keep him there now despite the little PR fiascos that bubble up around him from time to time.

    12:09 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    To the long-winded 'anonymous' posting at 9:10 p.m., please give us your analysis of Lyndell Stout (cross-dresser on steroids) and Frank Andrews (bald, overweight and not-too-pretty). 'NEP clearly has the most professional on-air staff.

    9:34 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    (Note, I am not the 9:10 PM anonymous poster)

    Oh please. WNEP's anchors are more about good looks than professionalism. Mike Lewis looks and sounds like every stereotypical anchorman who makes big bucks by being nothing more than a glorified teleprompter reader. Yes, Frank Andrews is far from eye candy, but he actually knows this market, and has 30-plus years of experience to show for it. That's what I call a professional. You can keep Mike Lewis and his bleached teeth any day of the week.

    10:38 PM  
    Blogger Howard Beale said...

    I've admittedly been lax in comment moderation, and some recent comments, here and in other posted replies, have reminded me to be more mindful of future comments.

    Remember, personal attacks aren't tolerated here. Keep it civil, or take it elsewhere.

    11:23 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey 9:34...I think you have the word "professional" mixed up with "pretty".

    If "pretty" is the criteria then gimme a no-holds barred Texas-style cage match, Paola Giangacomo and Julie Sidoni versus Candice Grossklaus and Kerry Shahen. (The undercard, Marisa versus Lyndell.)

    16 has the resources and blatant, shameless promotion. I'll give ya that. But despite their superior numbers (staff and toys) the end-product is indistinguishable on a story-by-story basis from anything Deathstar, I mean Nexstar produces.

    So, sorry...I won't say you're wrong, though you are. I'll just say you don't know what to look for.

    11:49 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If you can't tell the difference, you're not listening. 22 and 28 people write like they're doing the police blotter. It's "cop speak" and people don't talk that way. The 16 people are off the scale in the other direction. There are too many slang words, and it often appears they have the vocabulary of a 6th grade student.

    By the way, Mr. Beale, I thought we were going to take the high road here. I find the name calling disappointing.

    10:10 AM  
    Blogger Howard Beale said...

    As I stated above, that's my fault for being lenient on comments as of late.

    2:01 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    From our Home Office in Moosic, Pennsylvania: The Top Ten Reasons why WNEP has the most watched newscast in this Market:

    10. Back in the 1970's, if you did not have cable, you could not get a clear signal from WDAU (now WYOU). If you wanted to see AND hear your television signal, you had to watch someone other that your local CBS station. Some days, you could see the picture, some days you could only hear it, but never both at the same time. The polkas on Channel 44 came in better than the Dukes of Hazzard, so that is what you watched if you did not have cable. Old habits die hard, so even with a Tower of Power, no one ever watched 22. And they still don't.

    9. The Anchor$ It kills me to say this, but the people on WNEP just look better. Lighting? Sets? An aura around them? If it does not hurt your eyes, why turn away?

    8. More resources. WNEP has year-round interns, or very often does. They are sent out in cars with cameras... to shoot this and that. And even if they DON'T get anything... guess what? That fleet of news vehicles acts like roving billboards. When I see one driving thru my town, I watch later that night to see what was making news in my community. When I see a WBRE car, I often get confused which station to watch, as WYOU is painted on the other side. (badda-bing) And let's not forget the helicopter and sky-zoom...

    7. Momentum. Who can forget Gary Essex and Karen Harch? Marissa Burke (yes, she does yell the news) is from Danville, so she has been and will be around for some time) and Jay Kristopher picked up where they left off, with the help of the Clarks to keep the same people on for a while. Joe Zone and Frank Andrews helped keep the numbers high, then Nolan... etc. The field reporters come and go, save for Bob Reynolds... but when you see the same faces, and those faces don't give you a reason to change... well, people get comfortable. And it helps to keep people like this if you give them a nice place to work, instead of some sort of flood-prone makeshift closet.

    6. Community involvement. This continues from number seven. Put those faces in a bunch of cars, pair them with Outdoor life people, and run them out to the Tomato Festival, or into a parade... something like that. It works. Think not? Next time the Bloomsburg Fair rolls around, look to see how many people flock around the WNEP lot where they have their truck set up. Look to see how many people are standing around in the background of one of their live stories or during a weather forcast. The Nexstar folks have to beg people to fill up their backgrounds (or so it would seem). I would to on, but I must get to the store soon to help fill up one of those "WNEP-16 Feed a Friend" barrels.

    5. Various "Stuff"... this goes with number six. Pens, hats, mugs, heck even pogs (remember those?). When WNEP gives me a mug, a pen, and a hat... guess what? In the morning, I make coffee, grab a mug, and the logo reminds me to turn on Snedecker. I use the pen at work, and that reminds me to watch them when I go out for lunch somewhere.. perhaps Tom Williams has something to say... When I coach my daughter's basketball team later that evening, I may be wearing my PA Outdoor life hat... reminding me to see if Scott Lewis has a good story to share that night, and all the while other people saw the hat too. Perhaps they will watch as well.

    4. A lack of screw-ups by 16. WNEP does not give anyone a reason to change the channel. If they have an exclusive, they tout "Only on 16" and make me feel as if I am soooo lucky to be tuning in. For if I were not, I may miss that bear up that tree. (meaning, the story is not what is important, it is the connection with the audience, and the sense of relief they want me to feel that I somehow chose the RIGHT station, and I should never ever change the channel).

    3. Lack of good stories from Nexstar. David DeCosmo is good for a scoop or two from Scranton. Lorena Beniquez does a good job in Central Pennsylvania. And Elliott does entertain me, even if his stories sound the same after a while. But aside from that, where are the big stories Nexstar? Andy Mehalshick had a few in his day, but his salary prompted a promotion, which took him off the street. Who is the Ace Reporter right now for WBRE? Who is Clark Kent, the Superman of the market? All I see are a bunch of Jimmy and Jane Olsons.

    2. A lack of promotion from Nexstar. The next time they DO come up with a big story, will anyone know about it? On-air promotions don't work if the ratings are too low to make an impact. Buy a billboard, take out space in the paper(s), or even tell me how good you are on the radio. Reach the audience who is NOT watching, convince me to sample your product. If you try to reach me on your air, you may not, as I am likely watching WNEP at any given time. And for gosh sakes, make your reporters get out into the community and shake some hands, even if you have to pay them to do it.

    (drum roll.... and the number one reason why WNEP will likely stay number one in the hearts and minds of the viewers...)

    1. Station Morale. The people at WNEP brag about their lot in life. Just talk to them (like at the fair, or on a PA Outdoor life shoot) and you can tell they are proud of their positions at their station and in their community. I am not sure about the folks over at Nexstar. I can never find them to ask them how they are getting along.

    Comments?

    1:47 AM  
    Anonymous Tom Carten said...

    Yeah, comment.

    I'm not so sure 16's news is any better than 28's, but they sure do look more confident about themselves and their product. That means a lot. I used to teach Speech Communications at King's College and one thing I stressed is looking confident. You may have the same message/content as the next speaker, but if you are stiff and appear unsure of yourself, you come in second. I think that may be some of 28's problem. Good people, but maybe not in the right places, or with the right self-confidence.

    12:20 PM  

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