Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Should the Argus have an Ombudsman?

An interesting debate... The paper that my friend on Lake Herman says is peddling smut has been making news lately, fighting for such things as state employee salaries, lists of buddies that hunt with the governor, Mike Rounds' schedule of his family thankgsiving dinner and when he has his bowel movements... hey, it's on the taxpayer's dime!

And apparently some folks feel that if the Argus is going to be the "voice of the people", there should be some accountability. I are one of these people.

Look, I'm not going to say the AL "Speaks for me" or doesn't. But if it's going to go around parading itself as the "champion of the average citizen," isn't it considered reasonable to be held to some kind of public scrutiny, perhaps, even some third-party examination?

Which gives me the idea... an ombudsman!

Okay, I know what you're going to ask... "What the HELL is an ombudsman?" Well, basically, an ombudsman is a person, independent of the media organization that acts as the "voice of the people". They take suggestions, handle inquiries about procedures, and reports them to the masses. If a privately-held cable channel like ESPN can have an ombudsman, why can't a paper that supposedly represents a larger cross-section o f people?

The Boss is Back!

Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock'n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

Jon Landau, Rolling Stone magazine (1974)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Breaking News... Developing News... and all that Claptrap

The other night I was watching the news with my brother Mike (Yes, folks, my brother actually watches the news! I'm so proud of him!). Normally I'm not a big watcher of the newscasts because I work in radio, which means I get most of my news from our news director. CBS Radio (we're an affiliate) or the Internet.

But I watched KSFY. And in terms of news, they are traditionally decent. However, they started doing this stupid "Breaking News" headliner. Basically it takes one "BIG" story and pretty much re-hashes it to death.

The story they were talking about is a supposed recall coming from Mattel regarding their toys, lead paint and all that. Now I can see how this is a concern, especially for people who have kids. Obviously eating lead paint is not good for you... I'm living proof!

So I figured the best thing would be to do the main story followed up with a local reaction right away. All together, shouldn't take more than 2 minutes. Not only did KSFY spread out the story (by my estimates, 4 minutes of a 22-minute newscast), but they kept repeating it throughout the newscast!

"Our breaking news story tonight"

(5 minutes later)

"In case you're just tuning in...."

(after weather)

"In case you've been in a coma the last 15 minutes..."

(before closing)

"If you are an idiot and was just drooling at the screen for the last 30 minutes..."

Okay, I took a little poetic license... And I can understand how there are some big stories that deserve this kind of attention... Poison Gas Leak... Airline Crash at Joe Foss Field... Emergency Evacuation of Minnehaha County because I had supper at Puerto Vallarta (Okay, make that Lake, Miner, Moody, Minnehaha, and Lincoln Counties). But a toy recall really doesn't warrant that kind of coverage, does it?

To me, it sounds like the "Little Boy who Cried Wolf"

Give me radio news any day!