Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WNEP cites wrong source for story

I was surprised tonight when I saw WNEP credit Wikipedia in a story about murdered gay pornographer Bryan Kocis. The credit came in an on-screen graphic (left) that had Kocis' picture, which was taken from his entry on the online encyclopedia.

Why the trouble? Wikipedia has had its share of accuracy problems, including an article that claimed journalist John Siegenthaler was a suspect in the JFK assassination. Jimmy Wales, the website's founder, even says he doesn't think people should cite Wikipedia as a source; rather, it should be used for background information.

However, there is no accuracy problem with Kocis' picture, as it is him. How do I know? Like any journalist, I check the source, which shows that Kocis' picture actually came from this Citizens' Voice article.

Seems like WNEP credited the wrong source for the photo.

Remember when?

Youtube also has other old promos and news segments from the era of Debbie Dunleavy.

WNEP's future boss is an on-air fart machine

A reader passes along an interesting article about Randy Michaels, the former Clear Channel radio CEO who will now head up the television group that includes WNEP. In short, Michaels' background includes many stints as a radio shock jock, whose antics include on-air farts and a sexual harrassment suit, among other things. But if there's one thing Michaels can do, it's generate lots of cash.

Perhaps the most-telling part of the article is this: "Shock tactics get you noticed, the attention generates listeners and bigger audience numbers mean more advertising revenue." In other words, will Michaels' past become a part of WNEP down the road?

(If the site asks you to register to read the article, click here for a password.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 online, Nexstar's combined webpage for WBRE and WYOU, is finally up and running. The biggest change from the stations' individual websites is more news stories, and actual online video. The website is also heavy on weather, to the point that one tipster wondered if WBRE and WYOU's weather staff outnumbers their news staff.

It's a good start, but will WBRE and WYOU continue putting a commitment into their new website? We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Get elected, get a free car!

Former WYOU news director Frank Andrews is one of 23 new state representatives who is getting the perks of taxpayer-funded transportation. The Philadelphia Inquirer finds many freshman lawmakers in Harrisburg have opted for leased vehicles, funded with taxpayer dollars, instead of being reimbursed for mileage. Andrews' choice is a 2004 Dodge Durango, at a cost of $439 per month.

In all fairness, a lease could be cheaper than being reimbursed for the miles to and from Harrisburg. And Andrews isn't the only NEPA legislator driving a leased vehicle up and down Interstate 81. But after last year's payraise debacle, you'd think the politicians in Harrisburg would think twice before lining up to the trough o' freebies.

UPDATE: Blog reader Tom Carten notes that Andrews picked the Durango because there wasn't much of a choice left. And as I noted, it turns out the lease is cheaper than mileage reimbursement.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Former TL columnist now hosting at WILK

Steve Corbett, a former, sometimes-controversial, and always bearded columnist at the Times Leader, is now a morning talk show host at WILK. He left the TL in 2002 for unknown reasons, and spent the past few years working at a California newspaper.

Corbett recently returned to Wilkes-Barre, because, as he puts it, "I want to be Irish again. I want real Italian food. I want polka music on my public television station." A poster on NEPA Media claims Corbett has no intentions of returning to the TL.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

We're all about local television; it's in our name!

Oak Hill Capital Partners, the private equity group that plans to buy WNEP and the rest of the NYT station group, has formed the company that will ultimately own those stations, pending government approval: Local TV LLC.

I guess you can't get more straight-forward than that.

Randy Michaels, a former radio executive who once worked for Clear Channel, will head up Local TV LLC once the deal is sealed. Final approval could come by this summer.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

WVIA seeks state money to expand studios

An alert reader points out that local PBS affiliate WVIA has applied for a $500,000 state grant to help pay for a planned $2.6 million expansion of its studios. The project involves building a theatre, a new warehouse, and a new radio/TV studio. The project is expected to be done in time to host bigwigs from NPR and PBS in September. Luzerne County's commissioners will have the final say tonight.

I'm mixed on whether WVIA should even be asking for a state grant in the first place. WNEP, WYOU, or WBRE likely wouldn't get a dime from the state. But then again, one can argue that WVIA is, in a way, a public entity, unlike its private commercial counterparts.

You can't fault WVIA for taking money that's there for the taking. If Ed Rendell offered you half-a-million dollars, would you pass it up? I know I wouldn't.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What's in a name...for the President?

From the inbox...

Wednesday night WBRE's Carmen Grant referred to the President of the United States several times as "Bush"--as in "Bush's speech" and "Bush's plan."

What's the style guide on this? I was always taught that it was "President So-and-So" on the first reference and "The President" or "Mr. So-and-So" on subsequent references. "Bush" (or "Clinton" or "Washington" or "Jefferson") sounds a bit flippant to me--even bordering on disrespectful. What do your readers think?

This question gave me a good reason to dig out my AP Stylebook. Most journalists, be it print or broadcast, have a copy of this book somewhere, especially those who can write a story using clear, concise words. Think of it as an unofficial Bible and book o' rules for journalism.

Anyway, the AP's rules for refering to the President are as follows:

1. On first reference, the first name of a current or former president is not necessary, unless it's to avoid confusion (i.e. President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush).

2. On second reference, use only the last name (i.e. Bush).

If you take a look at the thousands of news articles about tonight's speech, you'll see most refer to "President Bush" on first reference, and "Bush" thereafter.

So, if Carmen Grant's first mention was "President Bush," then it appears she's following the generally-accepted rules of journalese. I've heard that journalists are supposed to refer to presidents as "Mr. Such-and-Such," but it seems to be more of a courtesy than a rule.

Mini Bites

Time to play catch-up on the big stories at hand, and some other errata...

  • Lou Abitabilo's jump to WBRE/WYOU had nothing to do with the then-impending sale of WNEP. The former station manager on Montage Mountain Road had praise for his former employer, and said the GM job at Nexstar's duopoly was "a promotion for me." Several tipsters have called Abitabilo an honest and fair guy as well.

  • WNEP's pending owner has pretty deep pockets, and connections to even-deeper pockets. A quick check on the Internet for Oak Hill Capital Partners shows the private equity firm, which was founded by a Texas oil billionaire, has more than $4 billion in investments. Also, its investors include Bill Gates, who clearly has a lot of money to burn.

  • A new book by television critic Marvin Kitman chronicles the rise of Fox News pundit (and former WNEP reporter) Bill O'Reilly. The unauthorized biography follows " his beginnings in Long Island through years of aggressive reporting and management faceoffs" and then some. Perhaps the book also includes a look at his stint in our area?
  • Thursday, January 04, 2007


    If it seems like this blog suddenly updated, you're right. For reasons unknown, Blogger never posted my previous updates this week, until now. I'm scratching my head over this, but at least you have more to comment on. :)

    Newsflash: WNEP, other NYT stations sold

    It's official: WNEP has a new owner. An equity group known as Oak Hill Capital Partners will pay $575 million for WNEP and eight other stations owned by the New York Times Broadcast Group.

    This is going to get really interesting...

    WNEP station manager jumps to WBRE/WYOU

    It seems WNEP's station manager isn't waiting to see who buys the station. Lou Abitabilo is heading to WBRE/WYOU as its new general manager, replacing former GM John Dittmeier. Broadcasting and Cable reports Dittmeier resigned, though some rumors say he was actually fired.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Not so crazy 'bout sports

    When Penn State went to the Orange Bowl last year, all three stations pulled out the stops when it came to coverage. WBRE and WYOU sent their sports guys, and WNEP topped it off with a whole team of news and sports people.

    I guess things were different this year. A blog reader e-mailed me to note that special coverage apparently wasn't warranted for Penn State's Outback Bowl victory over Tennessee. (Perhaps there was, which means someone in the promotions department isn't doing their job, or I'm not paying attention.)

    It used to be that any Nittany Lions bowl appearance would bring out the big guns -- from live reports to pre-game shows. So, what happened? Is money so tight that nobody made an effort this year?