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Monday, March 31, 2008
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I came across an interesting article about Ali Velshi that was posted on his alma mater, Queen's University's, website. The article is several years old, but still an interesting read. Below are several snippets:
Ali Velshi knows bad career advice when he hears it. The worst bit he ever received ran along the lines of, “Don’t give up the job you’ve got. Others are waiting in line.” His response? “Let them have it!”
Clinging is not Ali’s style, which explains how he has carved out an incredibly diverse career in journalism in the mere eight years since he graduated from Queen’s. Now an anchor and correspondent for CNN Money, he packs a résumé bulging with coveted abbreviations — CBS, CTV, CityTV, ROBTV. But in real life, that string of letters translates into a combination of hard work, flexibility and pure serendipity.
“Some jobs came about through timing, but I probably sent out about 4,000 résumés!” laughs Ali, who was born in Nairobi and who came to Canada at the age of one. “I’m glad I took — and still take — many left turns. I’m glad I wasn’t afraid to leave things behind.”
Ali credits Queen’s with giving him a good fix on contemporary social issues. Work in student government — he took a year out of his degree to work as the AMS Campus Activities Commissioner — and for The Journal opened his eyes to the world beyond campus. “There was lots of student activism and debate around issues of political correctness and events such as the ‘NO means NO’ campaign. It was an exciting time. Working as a reporter for The Journal, which was a serious newspaper, was the seed for my becoming a journalist.”
Fired up by his work on the newspaper, Ali hunted for a job in print journalism upon graduation, but when nothing materialized he applied for — and was accepted into — the Master’s degree program in journalism at Columbia. Around that time, CNN suddenly called him to Washington for a summer internship on the television program Crossfire. “CNN feels like a fluke. They were looking for Canadian interns and somehow got my name — I guess from one of the thousands of résumés I sent out. I was junior staff so I did everything — writing, research, phone calls, mail. It was a small bureau and I actually had a lot of input.”
Unbelievably, CBS came knocking next, offering him similar work in the Paris bureau of Sixty Minutes. He deferred his graduate degree for the yearlong job. (He deferred again when he returned to Canada; eventually, he opted not to take the degree.) It was a “terrific experience,” but he never felt he had entered “the strong editorial loop” that comes with covering stories in depth. When a CBS hiring freeze forced him back to Canada in 1994, the cachet of the CNN and CBS jobs landed him work with CTV’s Canada AM.
The next few years brought more left turns, including a yearlong fellowship to the U.S. Congress (aiming at political journalism), a stint at CTV as a senior field producer, and in 1997/98, a selfimposed sabbatical in South Africa, where he worked in property development with his family. “I needed a new vantage point, but I discovered that journalism was, in fact, what I really wanted to do with my life.”
“When I left university I wasn’t thinking, ‘This is my training, so where can I apply it?’ Instead I asked myself, “What do I want to do?” You need to think broadly about career possibilities. If you don’t have a professional degree, you’re probably going to bounce around in the work world, so you’d better be flexible. Which leads me to the best piece of advice I ever got — that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
His only regret is not pushing ahead academically, but he plans to chip away at an on-line law degree over the next few years. And he plans to master one skill that has persistently eluded him — pacing his life. “I’ve moved very quickly in my career. Now I want to slow down and find time for my family and friends.”
Soledad O'Brien attended the Chrysler LLC Sixth Annual Behind the Lens Award at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 26, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California.
Anderson Cooper attended the 22nd Genesis Awards on March 29, 2008 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. CNN's Planet in Peril received the award for TV DOCUMENTARY.
CNN.com Live's Nicole Lapin also attended the 22nd Genesis Awards.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
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I have a collection of CNN videos for you tonight. It’s been a week of ups and downs so I’m going to start off with the serious videos first. Beverly Broadman passed away this week- she was one of the original staff members at CNN.
On Issue #1, they discussed the impact of the falling US dollar on tourism abroad. Alessio Vinci talked with a few Americas who were vacationing in Rome and looked at the economic impact this could have on Italy’s tourism industry.
A “staycation” sounds pretty good to me. There are plenty of local places that I could play tourist and not really go very far away from home.
Now for a few lighter moments … and all of these come from American Morning. Have you noticed that American Morning has a new opening logo/ banner? John Roberts has referred to it as “nuclear.”
|Old AM Opening||New AM Opening|
Although the color of the logo has been getting all of the attention, I found that I like the new music that they are using.
Ali Velshi had a run in with the new logo when it was used as a background while he was giving a report…
Kiran Chetry found a creative way to wrap up a series of stories that Veronica De La Cruz reported on…
Ever wonder how big Ali Velshi’s barrel of oil is? That questioned was answered this week and John Roberts found a smooth way of segueing into Ali’s segment.
And my last video tonight is of Delta-lina, from the Delta Airline’s safety video, wagging her finger at John Roberts.
Friday, March 28, 2008
The DC Examiner reports CNN’s John King and Dana Bash are planning to wed Memorial Day weekend. When the wedding happens, whenever it happens we will let you know.
CNN Election Express Parks in Philadelphia as Network’s Newest Mini-Bureau
Following a campaign coverage strategy of creating mini-bureaus in key political battleground states, CNN has parked the CNN Election Express in Philadelphia this week to create a full-time reporting presence for the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.
In the weeks leading up to the primary, the Election Express will serve as CNN’s production and newsgathering center, providing a newsroom for up to 20 journalists as well as a studio for interviews and satellite transmission equipment. By stationing the mobile news bureau in Philadelphia, the network positions itself to offer its signature and unmatched political coverage. The Election Express is currently parked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The creation of this newest mini-bureau in Philadelphia follows CNN’s successful and unprecedented strategy employed early in the primary season. CNN reinvented the role of embedded campaign journalists this election season by setting up mini-bureaus in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, staffing them with full-time CNN journalists charged with providing in-depth reports for each state. The result contributed to CNN’s position as the most watched network for political coverage
To read the full CNN press release click on the title
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I know many of you are saying huh? Who is Phil Kent. Phil Kent is the chairman and chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Named to his post in February 2003, his responsibilities include corporate oversight of the TBS, Inc. domestic and international entertainment, animation and news networks and businesses, including TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and Court TV; Cartoon Network, CNN Worldwide, which includes CNN/U.S., CNN Headline News, CNN International and CNN.com. Kent has overall responsibility for all news and entertainment advertising and distribution, both domestically and internationally, as well as for all corporate administrative functions and Turner Sports. *
Not long ago, actually it was March 19, 2008, Phil Kent sat down with Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Matt Kempner for a question and answer. We're going to reprint portions of the article, since it fits so well with our 'Getting to Know You' series. If you'd like to read the entire article just follow the link.
Q: Do you get a hard time from friends and family about what you put on TV?
A: The interesting thing about TV is everybody thinks they are an expert, and everybody is an expert because everybody consumes a lot. My father, who is retired from the fashion industry, will often call me up and ask me who is overseeing the wardrobe for some of our anchors.
Q: How much of television watching is a part of your life outside of work?
A: It's almost like wallpaper in my office. It's playing all day, but I'm rarely focused on it. But I watch probably two hours in the evening. I usually watch an hour of CNN and one or two hours of something else.
Q: You've talked about how crucial it is to pick good people. Was there a time when you went badly wrong on a choice?
A: We hired a really good person for a pretty senior job, and I just had a gut feeling that they weren't quite ready for that job, but I didn't stop it. There's a tired expression, which is: "Pick great people." That's only half the sentence. You have to pick great people and put them in the right job. It could be a stretch for them, but it needs to be a job that you think they have a pretty good chance of being able to do well.
Q: You used to be a Hollywood talent agent representing writers and producers. Tell me about the talents that takes.
A: Patience, honesty, consistency and good follow-through. Patience in being able to stay on the phone with people with a wide variety of mood swings ...
Q: What about being a Hollywood agent is like being a CEO?
A: Understanding how to motivate people. You learn how to read people and understand what makes them tick.
Q: What's the toughest decision you've had to make as CEO at Turner Broadcasting?
A: It's a rite of passage of most senior executives that at some point they have to ease out somebody who is also a friend.
Q: Have you come up with a good way of firing a friend?
A: There's nothing more humane than honesty. You can deliver bad news with empathy, sympathy and encouragement.
Q: How has that gone?
A: Some better than others. There are people I'm still friends with to this day. And some people were very hurt. ... But I always felt I acted in the best interests of Turner. Those are among the toughest decisions. It's much harder than canceling a show.
Q: What's the one thing you'd like to ask other CEOs?
A: It would be really interesting to swap stories about how in order to develop your most senior people you have to sometimes watch a minor train wreck. If you know a mistake is being made, you can't stop every mistake from being made because then people don't learn. Having that judgment to know what's a big enough impending train wreck to step in and say, "No, don't do that." As versus, "Is that really what you want to do? I think you ought to think about this."
The question I always ask when I'm doing job interviews is, "Tell me about the failures you've had professionally and what you've learned from them."
Q: What's the biggest mistake you've made?
A: The worst at the time was canceling the rain insurance at the Diana Ross concert in Central Park in 1982 or '83. ... My company was doing the radio simulcast. I think I was in my late 20s. I canceled to save the gigantic sum of $3,000. That night was one of the most historic black-cloud, rain-drenching electric storms. ... We had to restage the whole thing the next night. It cost my company a lot of money. They were pretty upset with me.
Q: Tell me about the state of the TV industry and where the industry is headed.
A: There's never been a time when TV had more opportunity and more built-in risk to its business model. There are so many new things that people do in their free time.
Q: What's the big risk?
A: The big risk is the audience is fragmenting. A big risk in the business model of television is now the currency of the business has changed. Where we used to get paid for how many people watch the program, now we get paid for how many people watch the commercials. Even though we are not responsible for making the commercials.
Q: When did that take place, and what impact will it have?
A: Last fall. Take CNN, for example. It becomes more important than ever in the daily execution of our presenting our networks to make sure that going into a commercial we really try to do our best to keep the audience glued. So teases become much more important.
On the entertainment side, you will see a lot of what we call hard openings, when you go right from the closing credits of one show right into the opening credits of another. If you have noticed on TBS recently, we don't waste a lot of time with the opening theme song of "Friends." There's a quick shot of the friends around the fountain, a couple of bars of music and right into the episode.
Q: What's your best guess on what the TV industry and Turner Broadcasting will be like in five or 10 years?
A: People are going to demand what they want to see, when they want to see it and how they want to see it. We are going to need to accommodate those demands without completely disrupting our business model. Or we may not even be successful in not disrupting our business model.
Q: This is the company that Ted Turner built. How are you and Ted Turner most different and most alike?
A: We are very different. I could not have done what Ted Turner did. Ted had the uncanny ability of being able to see around corners. He is a classic entrepreneur. I am, I think, a pretty accomplished professional manager. It's a completely different skill set.
Q: Could Ted Turner survive and thrive in this kind of industry now?
A: That's a good question for him.
If you'd like to see a video of Mr. Kent being honored by Broadcast and Cable News 17th Annual Hall of Fame just follow the link. It's interesting to hear how of many of the people and programs we watch on a daily basis. are because of Phil Kent.
*Information reprinted from Kent's online Time Warner bio.
That's it for me this week. I'd like to thank our Ratings Guru for the Phil Kent find. Don't forget to check out this weeks Ratings at a Glance. ~Phebe
CNN has Highs on Certain Nights
And the Audience takes Friday off (as do some anchors/hosts)
Easter week, which is also Spring Break in many areas of the country can really affect audience viewership and it sure did with the cable news/information channels. Some of the increases can just be fluctuations in audience, so I would not read too much into big spikes in regularly scheduled programming unless there was some kind of “event.” Both Fox News and CNN witnessed drastic fall-off of audiences on Good Friday – many anchors/hosts took the night off and so did audiences. MSNBC normally posts average numbers on that night, so their fall-off was not so noticeable. This week also presented new schedule changes on CNN and MSNBC, but I would not expect one week to reflect a trend of the new/repackaged programs. And while the week was heavy on politics, it did not have special programming such as primary or debate coverage and analysis to boost ratings.
Fox News: 546,000
Billo had a hot St. Patrick ’s Day, but it was all down hill from there including a poor repeat (in comparison to his usual weekly average performance) on Friday. Campbell Brown had a full week in her time slot of 8PM, and while concentrated heavily on politics, it is no longer coded “ELECTION CENTER.” In comparison to last week, she was down 79,000 with much due to a poor performance on Good Friday. COUNTDOWN was up a modest 24,000, but also had a weak Friday like everyone else.
Fox News: 496,000
Well, HANNITY & COLMES had an outstanding week, even with a huge audience fall-off on Friday. I tuned into their programming for just minutes to see what they were covering and could never get away from Sean Hannity on rants about the democrats, Senator Obama or his minister. So, I can only chalk it up to controversy which appealed to their kind of audience. LKL witnessed a substantial audience for his Thursday night interview with Senator Obama. At 520,000 viewers for the key demographic of Adults 25-54, you can see it was far above his week average. He was the #2 program for the night in the cable news/information competition. MSNBC offered the Dan Abrams/Dan Abrams VERDICT (honestly I see very little difference in the old Dan Abrams and Verdict, but again, it is only a small sampling). Abrams’ numbers were down slightly, but primarily due to a very weak Friday. He was never on the air on Fridays, so viewers will have to get used to not seeing “docbloc” and seeing VERDICT on Fridays.
Fox News: 401,000
Yes, we got through the week with no asterisks (*)! Everyone aired regularly scheduled programming for the week. GRETA is off 70,000 from the week before, but she also had a disaster for a Friday performance. AC360 was off an even further 121,000 viewers this week versus the week prior with Monday and Friday pulling down the average. You would think the strongest night would have been his road trip with Senator Obama (Wednesday) – and it was very good, but Thursday was the strongest night. Thursday was “Passportgate,” which broke very late in the day and had further controversy with regard to Senator Obama’s comments about his portrayal and perception of his grandmother’s “typical” actions. Props to 360 substitute anchor John King on Friday as it was a weak day for everyone, but he managed to rank third out of all cable news/information primetime 8PM-11PM programming. I can’t explain the fall-off on Monday, except maybe a lot of 360 viewers are Irish???? MSNBC, well, the first week of COUNTDOWN repeats did slightly better than most “docbloc” programming. It’s really too early to tell if there will be any impact on AC360.
And as a side note, how did “Shock and Awe” do? Slightly better than the 11PM AC360 time slot of rebroadcasts. But considering there is well discussed “Iraq fatigue” (don’t bring this up in my household!), 349,000 Adults 25-54 for its first run on Thursday was very satisfactory for in-depth programming late at night. It was re-broadcast 2X over the weekend - #1 in its time period on Saturday, and unfortunately #3 on Sunday (Easter – to be expected).
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54, Live + Same Day (LS); Fast Track Nationals.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tonight, I'm focusing on the latest news about the news.... here are some highlights from a few CNN Press Releases.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this week revealed CNN Presents: God’s Warriors as one of the recipients of the inaugural Television Academy Honors, citing the documentary as one of the programs in 2007 that “exemplify television with a conscience.” CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour traveled the world to report God’s Warriors, which aired in August 2007.
In what it touts as an annual awards program, the academy will honor God’s Warriors and other recipients during a star-studded event on Thursday, May 1, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. An outgrowth of the academy’s Television Cares Committee, the Television Academy Honors celebrate television programs that best present issues of concern to society “in a compelling, emotional and insightful way.”
Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., CNN will launch a sweeping on-air and digital initiative, CNN Presents: Black in America. Breaking new ground in revealing the current state of Black America, this landmark programming features six hours of documentaries, a weekly series of reports that will air on CNN/U.S. and CNN International and appear as part of a multimedia online effort. The programming, which airs over four months in 2008, focuses on fresh analysis from new voices about the real lives behind the stereotypes, statistics and identity politics that frequently frame the national dialogue about Black America.
Reported by anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, Black in America begins with the two-hour premiere of Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination, a first-person account of what happened on April 4, 1968.
Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder – The King Assassination, Thursday, April 3, 9 p.m. (two hours)
In this first installment of CNN’s Black in America series, O’Brien investigates how James Earl Ray, an armed robber and escaped convict, had already spent an uncommon year on the run that included plastic surgery just a month before his path collided with that of the civil rights leader in Memphis, Tenn. Through interviews with witnesses and investigators, O’Brien retraces the steps of King, Ray, the FBI and Memphis police and explores alternative scenarios of who was ultimately responsible for the murder that, for some, represented the end of the American Civil Rights era.
Here's a preview of the first installment:
Black in America: The Black Man, Wednesday, July 23, 9 p.m. (two hours)
Perhaps the most misreported group in America today, black men are often stereotypically depicted in the media as convicts, gang members and absentee fathers. Told through the personal stories of graduates of the 1968 class of Little Rock Central High School, their sons and grandsons, for The Black Man, O’Brien seeks to determine whether life is better for black men now than it was 40 years ago. She reports on the disparities between blacks and whites in educational, career and economic achievement and factors leading to the devastating rates of black male incarceration.
O’Brien reports on successes and dissects myths to explore the state of black men in America today.
Black in America: The Black Woman & Family, Thursday, July 24, 9 p.m. (two hours)
In this installment of Black in America, O’Brien, examines the unique and varied experiences of black women and families in America. O’Brien looks at the reasons behind the disturbing statistics on single parenthood, disparities between black and white students in the classroom, and the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS on black women. The Black Woman & Family yields insights into black achievements and struggles and perspectives on King’s hopes for progress.
“As we developed this series, it was critical to go beyond what viewers believe and already know to introduce them to the real people behind the headlines that we report every day on our assignments,” O’Brien said.
CNN.com’s interactive special section for Black in America, available at www.CNN.com/blackinamerica, will launch in late March and will feature excerpts from the series and exclusive interviews with eyewitnesses to history. The section also will include timelines, maps and multimedia stories that highlight the ripple effects the King assassination had on the United States.
Coming off a year of continued ratings growth for its “news and views” programming strategy, Headline News will add Not Just Another Cable News to its weekend lineup, it was announced today by Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN Worldwide. The series will take a lighthearted look back at famous – and infamous – stories that made news. The series will premiere on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and will feature some of the most unforgettable political blunders of our time. Future episodes will highlight bad celebrity behavior, stupid criminals and unusual pop culture fads.
“Our CNN news group is in the fortunate position of having nearly 28 years’ worth of archived news footage, and this new series is a unique way of showcasing some of those clips,” Jautz said. “It’s an entertaining way to recall some of the more memorable news moments captured on video.”
The half-hour program will feature comedians, pundits and other “talking heads” offering their take on memorable video clips. The premiere episode includes Time.com editor Ana Marie Cox, Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein, Republican strategist Amy Holmes, Huffington Post media editor Rachel Sklar and comedian Hugh Fink. Not Just Another Cable News Show will be executive-produced by Conway Cliff.
Posted by BookAsylum at 9:44 PM
Monday, March 24, 2008
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On tonight's 60 Minutes (CBS), Scott Pelley did a story about the opening of the Doomsday Vault. It reminded of a story by CNN's Becky Anderson. Here is the video from one of the reports that she filed and the links to several others:
Several days ago, I caught this moment on CNN.com LIVE with Nicole Lapin and the control room.
Note: In my post on Friday, in spite of all my talk about Wolf Blitzer, I neglected to mention that Saturday was his birthday. Happy Birthday!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
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