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Posts Tagged "npr"

MSNBC and its horrible news-gathering operation

A story about how CNN is the best American cable-news outlet when it comes to news gathering during breaking news like the situation in Libya* in the New York Times (still free to read online for a few more days!) is interesting for another reason.

Namely, it showed how horrible MSNBC is at being a news organization on the weekends. When, you know, sometimes news happens.

The disparity has been most noticeable during the last two weekends, when CNN has attracted huge audiences with continuing coverage of the international crises, beating even Fox News, the perennial leader among the news channels. Meanwhile MSNBC, sticking to a weekend lineup of recorded programs largely about problems in prisons, attracted only about a third as many viewers as CNN.

Calling “Lockup,” the show about being inside a prison that is basically a reality show, a show “about problems in prisons” is a generous description by the Times.

So how bad is it on the weekends, even when something monumental like United States forces beginning to bomb Libya?

 

[MSNBC president Phil Griffin] called MSNBC’s weekend reliance on “Lockup,” its recorded documentary-style program about prisons, a “tricky situation.” He said, “This is our strategy for weekends, and it has worked well for us.” Its audience now “has an expectation” of seeing such programs on Saturday and Sunday nights, he said.

Mr. Griffin defended the decision to stick with the programs last weekend, saying MSNBC added a taped hour about the situation in Japan to its “Lockup” lineup and extended live coverage of the Libyan air attacks longer into the evening than usual on weekends (though stopping short of prime time).

“We knew it was an ongoing story,” he said. But he argued “things had seemed to calm down” Saturday and Sunday night when MSNBC returned to scheduled recorded programs.

But at 8:40 Saturday night, CNN’s correspondent Nic Robertson appeared live with a report of heavy gunfire and explosions in Tripoli.

In other words, Griffin thought that having an hour taped about the ongoing tragedy in Japan and extending live coverage of Libya was enough. But even before 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (when the sun was still up west of the Rockies), they had already gone to Lockup.

Meanwhile this Forbes piece shows how CNN is trying to differentiate itself from MSNBC and Fox News by concentrating on… well, news.

 

A model for CNN could be NPR, which has built a strong business as a substantive news network despite management troubles, Bernknopf said.

"There’s a very discernible difference in terms of tone and personality and content," said Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief and now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. "It helps that there’s about 12,000 global crises taking place all at once because that plays to CNN’s strengths."

It has always been best for the network when it realizes that news is a star, he said.

CNN still has work to do. It recently rebooted Eliot Spitzer’s prime-time show with the exit of former co-host Kathleen Parker. Morgan’s show can be wildly uneven - a serious interview with Netanyahu one day, an ill-timed chat with Hugh Hefner on a day of big news from the Middle East on another. Cooper has asserted himself and his ratings are improved, although it has yet to be seen whether the syndicated daytime show he will start next season proves to be a distraction.

CNN isn’t close to NPR on their newsgathering or reporting but it would be nice if there was actually a cable news station that most of America had that actually, you know, covered news and not Charlie Sheen’s latest dumb statement.

* Though, judging from my Twitter feed it is well behind Al-Jazeera English.

NPRCNN Posted 3/23/11 @ 7:05 PM #

MSNBC and its horrible news-gathering operation

A story about how CNN is the best American cable-news outlet when it comes to news gathering during breaking news like the situation in Libya* in the New York Times (still free to read online for a few more days!) is interesting for another reason.

Namely, it showed how horrible MSNBC is at being a news organization on the weekends. When, you know, sometimes news happens.

The disparity has been most noticeable during the last two weekends, when CNN has attracted huge audiences with continuing coverage of the international crises, beating even Fox News, the perennial leader among the news channels. Meanwhile MSNBC, sticking to a weekend lineup of recorded programs largely about problems in prisons, attracted only about a third as many viewers as CNN.

Calling “Lockup,” the show about being inside a prison that is basically a reality show, a show “about problems in prisons” is a generous description by the Times.

So how bad is it on the weekends, even when something monumental like United States forces beginning to bomb Libya?

[MSNBC president Phil Griffin] called MSNBC’s weekend reliance on “Lockup,” its recorded documentary-style program about prisons, a “tricky situation.” He said, “This is our strategy for weekends, and it has worked well for us.” Its audience now “has an expectation” of seeing such programs on Saturday and Sunday nights, he said.

Mr. Griffin defended the decision to stick with the programs last weekend, saying MSNBC added a taped hour about the situation in Japan to its “Lockup” lineup and extended live coverage of the Libyan air attacks longer into the evening than usual on weekends (though stopping short of prime time).

“We knew it was an ongoing story,” he said. But he argued “things had seemed to calm down” Saturday and Sunday night when MSNBC returned to scheduled recorded programs.

But at 8:40 Saturday night, CNN’s correspondent Nic Robertson appeared live with a report of heavy gunfire and explosions in Tripoli.

In other words, Griffin thought that having an hour taped about the ongoing tragedy in Japan and extending live coverage of Libya was enough. But even before 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (when the sun was still up west of the Rockies), they had already gone to Lockup.

Meanwhile this Forbes piece shows how CNN is trying to differentiate itself from MSNBC and Fox News by concentrating on… well, news.

A model for CNN could be NPR, which has built a strong business as a substantive news network despite management troubles, Bernknopf said.

"There’s a very discernible difference in terms of tone and personality and content," said Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief and now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. "It helps that there’s about 12,000 global crises taking place all at once because that plays to CNN’s strengths."

It has always been best for the network when it realizes that news is a star, he said.

CNN still has work to do. It recently rebooted Eliot Spitzer’s prime-time show with the exit of former co-host Kathleen Parker. Morgan’s show can be wildly uneven - a serious interview with Netanyahu one day, an ill-timed chat with Hugh Hefner on a day of big news from the Middle East on another. Cooper has asserted himself and his ratings are improved, although it has yet to be seen whether the syndicated daytime show he will start next season proves to be a distraction.

CNN isn’t close to NPR on their newsgathering or reporting but it would be nice if there was actually a cable news station that most of America had that actually, you know, covered news and not Charlie Sheen’s latest dumb statement.

* Though, judging from my Twitter feed it is well behind Al-Jazeera English.

NPRCNN Posted 3/23/11 @ 7:05 PM #

NPR examines strip clubs’ role in Atlanta hip hop

I’m not sure that Atlanta strip clubs are a place that I’d expect NPR to go for a story. But Elizabeth Blair of All Things Considered went to Atlanta to examine the role of strip clubs in making hip hop hits.

Hip-hop producers have been breaking records in Atlanta strip clubs for a long time now — at least as far back as 2003, when Lil Jon was doing it with songs like, “Get Low.” He’s been quoted as saying “the butts don’t lie,” meaning if the strippers can dance to it, the song has potential. In Tamara Palmer’s book, Country Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip Hop, Lil Jon says “Get Low” had a slow start: the dancers “didn’t feel it at first.” But eventually it grew on them and several dancers at different strip clubs asked the DJs to play it during their stage sets. “Get Low” took off — in mainstream clubs and on radio and TV across the country.

The whole thing is worth a read and, of course, a listen. It is NPR, after all.

Scientists wonder why people can’t walk straight

NPR has a story abut another mystery about the human body — like why we can’t walk straight.*

In our radio broadcast, Jan and I  explore (just hit the “Listen” button on this page) possible explanations for this tendency to slip into turns. Maybe, I suggest, this is a form of left or right handedness where one side dominates the other? Or maybe this is a reflection of our left and right brains spitting out different levels of dopamine? Or maybe it’s stupidly simple: Most of us have slightly different sized legs or slightly stronger appendages on one side and this little difference, over enough steps, mounts up?

Wrong, wrong and wrong, Jan says. He’s tested all three propositions (the radio story describes the details) and didn’t get the predicted results. There is, apparently, no single explanation for this phenomenon. He is working on a multi-causal theory.

NPR suggests going to a (hopefully empty) parking lot or a park, putting a blindfold on someone (hopefully someone that you know and who knows you) and have them attempt to walk in a straight line.

Apparently, hilarity will ensue.

* No, it doesn’t have to do with drinking.

No one cares about Juan Williams’ firing

Remember all of the drama over NPR’s firing of Juan Williams after Williams’ history of inflammatory rhetoric while appearing on Fox News? Well, as many predicted, it was more about Republicans and Fox News using it as a launching pad to attack NPR rather than any actual concern over Williams.

NPR held a public meeting to give people a chance to voice their concerns over the Williams affair. No one voiced any concerns.

The board gathered at NPR headquarters Thursday morning for its semi-annual business meeting and after a short speech in which newly seated Chairman Dave Edwards said that he hopes NPR will “emerge from this episode a stronger and a more significant national and regional civic institution,” he opened the floor for public comments.

Silence.

"Going once?" he said, looking around the room.

"You may want to note that it’s not on the agenda for tomorrow, Mr. Chairman," said NPR general counsel Joyce Slocum. "And so this will be the opportunity to comment on this particular issue."

Still nothing.

The Daily Caller, conservative pundit Tucker Carlson’s news website, tried to dress up the incident by saying that there was a lot of concern over NPR’s firing at the time. However, there were indications that the concern didn’t come from people who regularly listened to the national news network.

The New York Times reported that a lot of the criticism came from ”callers describing themselves as long-time ‘viewers’ of NPR who warn that they are going to ‘stop watching.’”

NPR is on the radio, not the TV.

Fox News also recently used the “viewer” mistake in a hit on NPR.

For my money, NPR is the best news gathering outlet in the United States. I don’t claim that NPR is perfect, I don’t claim that NPR is the best possible news reporting operation, but NPR does a lot of really solid journalism.

Earlier this year, Global Journalist noted that NPR “is now the only major media outlet that is increasing its foreign reporting.” While newspapers cut back on and eliminate foreign bureaus and cable news resorts to using Sarah Palin’s Twitter posts as a valid news source, NPR is expanding their news-gathering operations.

The attacks on NPR weren’t about free speech* but about the conservative hatred of NPR and PBS and hopes to defund the entities. According to NPR, over 27 million people tune into NPR every week. 

* People making the free speech argument might want to study up on what the First Amendment really means. It means that the government can’t infringe upon your right to say whatever you want. It doesn’t guarantee employment for whatever you say or guarantee the right for Williams to keep the massive NPR megaphone after a history of inflammatory comments.

Washington City Paper’s rules for employees attending Stewart/Colbert rallies

The Washington City Paper, mocking NPR and the Washington Post on their recent rules for employees on attending this weekend’s rallies put on by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, put out their list of ten rules for their employees.

Here are the first five:

  1. You may attend the rallies in a non-participatory fashion.
  2. However, because the rallies are comic events, you may not laugh.
  3. The act of not laughing, though, can be just as politically loaded as the act of laughing. Therefore, staffers are advised to politely chuckle, in a non-genuine manner, after each joke.
  4. To avoid any perception of bias, please make sure to chuckle at all jokes, whether or not you find them funny. As journalists, we must make sure to not allow our personal views of “humorous” or “non-humorous” to affect our public demeanor. 
  5. Likewise, it could be devastating to our impartial reputation if our staffers were seen laughing at something that was not intended as a joke, thereby appearing to mock the entire event. If we are lucky, the comedians will have a drummer on hand whose rim-shots may be used as a cue for when to politely chuckle.

How your computer can help with earthquake detection

This. Is. Awesome.

From NPR

Newer models of laptops manufactured by companies like Apple and Lenovo contain accelerometers — motion sensors meant to detect whether the computer has been dropped. If the computer falls, the hard drive will automatically switch off to protect the user’s data.

"As soon as I knew there were these low-cost sensors inside these accelerometers, I thought it would be perfect to use them to network together and actually record earthquakes," geoscientist Elizabeth Cochran of the University of California at Riverside says.

Check out that story. It’s pretty cool. If my computer had that (I have a cheap HP), I would definitely sign up for that. Even though I don’t recall there ever being an earthquake of the size necessary to detect (4.0) in the Albuquerque area.

Rare interview with Sly Stone

Again, a hat tip to my dad for this.

Sly Stone granted a rare interview with KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and you can listen to it here

Stone was, of course, the man behind the sound of Sly and the Family Stone. He is also famously reclusive, rarely giving interviews — but he made some great music, even if it isn’t as celebrated as, say, the music of Marvin Gaye or the Rolling Stones.