Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Why dress up like a pirate when you can dress up like this?

(Picture taken from WNEP assistant news director Carl Abraham's excellent WNEP history website.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Times-Shamrock loses defamation lawsuit

Two of Times-Shamrock's newspapers and a former reporter will have to pay $3.5 million after losing a defamation lawsuit. A judge says The Citizens' Voice, the (now) Scranton Times-Tribune, and former CV reporter Ed Lewis defamed a local businessman by tying him to an accused mobster. Whoops.

(Lewis now works for the Times Leader, whose Saturday article lacked the "Ha ha CV sucks" motif previously seen when McClatchy put the paper on the chopping block.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

WBRE hires new consumer reporter

Say hello to Jeff Chirico, WBRE's newest consumer reporter. The University of Scranton graduate spent the past few years bouncing around cable news outlets in Lehighton and Reading, and at Bethlehem PBS affiliate WLVT. Somewhere along the way, Chirico also picked up a Murrow award for producing a documentary. He replaces Elliot Weiler, who left WBRE earlier this year for a consumer reporting gig at Fox O&O KTVI in St. Louis.

Monday, October 23, 2006

CBS blames affiliates for crappy ratings

When former NBC news diva Katie Couric took the helm of the CBS Evening News, ratings went up, pushing the Tiffany network to the top. Then, the novelty of Couric wore off, and soon, the CBS Evening News was back in third place.

So, who's to blame? If you ask CBS News boss Sean McManus, it's the "low-rated local newscasts leading into Evening News." You know, newscasts like WYOU's, which have forever been at the bottom of the barrel, despite several efforts to reinvent itself.

In related news, Beale's Bites has learned that WYOU is actually adding more news to its lineup. Tipsters report WYOU will add a 5:30 p.m. weekday newscast starting on October 30. Another half hour of Dialing for News? Stay tuned...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Paola pulled from 11 p.m. at WNEP

WNEP anchorwoman Paola Giangacomo has been yanked from the station's 11 p.m. newscasts over an apparent contract dispute. Tipsters report Giangacomo wanted more money, since she co-anchored the show, but that didn't happen. Either management yanked her off the newscast, or she said, "no more cash, no more 11."

Giangacomo was tapped to co-anchor WNEP's 11 p.m. newscast back in March, when she replaced Marisa Burke, who left the show to focus on producing and co-anchoring WNEP's 6 p.m. show.

Covering the president

For a local reporter, nothing is more exciting - and boring - than covering a presidential visit to your area. It's a big deal when the president and his entourage make a stop in the region, even if it's only to stump for a congressman. The national press is shuffling about, Secret Service agents give you stone-cold stares, and you always wonder if something important or earth-shaking will be said by the president.

Well, why is it also boring? The local press is pretty restricted in how it can cover an appearance, like Bush's pit stop at Keystone College. Obviously, we're not the White House Press Corps, and none of us are going to get THAT close to Bush to ask him any real questions. Instead, we're resigned to shooting video of Air Force One and his motorcade, and we rely on pool video shot by the networks. We sit around, listen to his prepared speech, and that's that.

Still, there are always the small stories that add something interesting and different to an otherwise bland presidential visit: the people who served Bush and company ice cream, the boy who toured Air Force One, the other boy who met the president, the woman who received a volunteer service award from the president...and the Republican v. Democrat political bickering.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The doctor is out

For those of you northern Pennsylvanians who get your news from Binghamton, don't expect to see Dr. Bill Rogers on WBNG anymore. A tipster reports the chief weather forecaster was canned yesterday. Why? Nobody knows, though Beale's Bites has learned Rogers was either shown the door, or escorted to it, following yesterday's newscasts. Talk about a humiliating way to go, especially with November sweeps approaching.

Lawmakers consider non-compete ban

Pennsylvania lawmakers are, once again, trying to push a bill to make non-compete contracts illegal. Senate Bill 442 would allow any broadcast journalist to jump to a competitor in the same market, after their current contract expires. Previous efforts in the state legislature have stalled.

Personally, I support this bill, because I don't think a station should have any say in where a former employee works.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Howard, where are you?

Don't worry, nobody's outed me yet! I've just been caught up with work as of late, which means less time spent on the blog. Expect me back here on Tuesday. That should give me enough time to tie up loose ends and such.

I'll still pop in to moderate comments, and if anything huge happens in the meantime, I'll post it.

And if you've got tips/rumors/gossip/money you want to share, please send it my way. A lot of the stuff on Beale's Bites comes in from people like you. And as always, confidentiality assured!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Might as well work at McDonalds

This weekend, I was speaking to an acquaintence who also works in television news. In the course of the conversation, this person brought up an experience they had when they started out. Of all the places where this person applied for an entry-level job, only one responded. It was a tiny station in a tiny market in West Virginia. Those of you who work in television news probably know where I'm going here -- low pay, crappy hours, crappy market, etc.

But here's where my jaw hit the floor. This person's starting salary was only $16,000. No hourly wage here...just a salary.

I know how crappy the pay can be in broadcast journalism. It goes with the territory. The newer you are, the lower your pay. And many stations are owned by companies that do nothing but slash costs and find ways to save money. But a $16,000 salary? It's no wonder so many bright journalism school graduates consider jumping ship to public relations, where they can make double the money.

And as much as I love my job, there are times when I think about the "greener" fields of PR.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

All Points(less) AccuWeather?

A few of you didn't see the point behind WBRE's much-promoted All Points AccuWeather Wednesday night...

  • Lightning forces Josh Hodell off the roof and into the Wilkes-Barre studio
  • Dave Skutnick, who mans the Scranton studio, is in Wilkes-Barre
  • Jeffrey Jumper gets a quick live hit from Williamsport before weather axes the live shots

    You can't do much about severe weather introducing Murphy's Law into your newscast. But when severe weather hits, why not keep Hodell in Wilkes-Barre to man the ship, and send the other three out to look for any weather damage?

    Personally, I think it's a much-better use of WBRE's "field meteorologists." Otherwise, you've got four people standing in a studio, waiting for lightning to kill their live shots.
  • Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Supon leaving WNEP

    WNEP morning anchorwoman Kim Supon has announced she's leaving the station. Supon, who joined WNEP in 1993, is leaving the station next month to spend more time with her children, one of whom was recently born.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Live from Lancaster County

    Today's school shooting in Lancaster County was all over the news -- our market was no exception. It was a lead story on all three stations. But WNEP went so far as to send anchorman Scott Schaeffer there to do some live reports.

    An odd decision, considering Lancaster County is in the Harrisburg market, and fellow ABC affiliates WPVI and WHTM were already feeding all sorts of video to fellow affiliates nationwide. Schaeffer's report really didn't add anything extraordinary either.

    Seems like a case of "We're doing this because we can do it," though I suppose you can't fault WNEP for jumping on such a huge story, as stations from Philadelphia and Baltimore did the same.

    In unrelated news, I'm no fashion cop, but suspenders and a baseball cap?