Tag Archives: cbs

Fairly Useful Demonstration of Bottom Feeding in Local News: The Exclusive and the Porn Star

In the fight of our time in local news, where do you put your effort?  What story or principle drives you to go right up to the line and take a stand?  What’s so important at this pivotal moment in local journalism that getting it done’s–arguably–even worth important than even possibly being wrong?

In Ft. Myers, obviously, the answer:  porn stars.

WINK_320_240_defaultYup.  No momentous battle over outfitting reporters with cameras, or breaking stories online at the expense of the six o’clock news.  No dustup over linking or the shifting world of attribution online.  Certainly no heated debate over cost-cutting, news sharing agreements or grounding choppers.  No, the fight right now in Ft. Myers is over one station’s use of another’s “exclusive” with a porn star, Anabela Mota.

In Ft. Myers–have you been following this story?  It’s way more interesting and visual than health care, and you’ve done that cash-for-clunkers deal to death, right?  Anyway, it’s pretty justifiable since, technically, it’s a political story:  Fort Myers Beach town manager Scott Janke got fired recently after town officials learned his wife, the lovely Ms. Mota, is also known in porn circles as Jazella Moore, whose website includes this biographical tidbit: “I discovered that by approaching sexual pleasure resolved of guilt and fear and with need distilled to shared, creative adventure, the paradox of the Madonna/Whore was broken and with that the power of ecstatic joy could triumph. So I became a priestess of the erotic arts.”

The Interview Stations Went to War Over

The Interview Stations Went to War Over

When the former town manager and his bride appeared on CBS’ The Early Show, it was, of course, high-five time in the newsroom of Ft. Myers CBS station WINK-TV.  But the crew at NBC station WBBH rolled tape on the interview and turned around a clip for their newscasts, citing “fair use.”  [Not to get all capital J journalistic on you, but “fair use” is defined as the use of limited amounts of copyrighted material for the purposes of commentary, criticism and parody, without seeking permission to use said material from the copyright holder]

Didn’t see the WBBH newscast, but perhaps they really were using the porn star interview for the purposes of classic commentary and criticism.  Benefit of the doubt and all.

“It is fair use. Our attorney agrees it was fair use,” Darrel Adams, WBBH news director, told the Ft. Myers News-Press. “It was the first time a major news maker in our market was talking. It’s that cut and dried.”  (Am I nuts, but if I, as a local news reporter, get a major newsmaker to talk for the first time about a big story, isn’t that the essence of an exclusive, and precisely the opposite of a story that other stations have the legal right to cherry-pick just because it’s BIG?)

wbbh-6pm_open_tagAnd you ever notice how–sweeping and unfair generalization here of course–it’s always newspapers sending lawyer to court to fight over access to governmental records and access to courtrooms, while television stations usually only pay the lawyer (or threaten to) when it’s about a piece of tabloid video or a gruesome 911 call involving a family member pleading for help as gunmen storm their home?  What’s up with that?

The “fair use” fight over a fluff interview with a low-level government employee and his priestess of the erotic arts will surely boost local TV’s standing in this regard.

But hey–I’m sure the numbers were up.

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From Murrow’s Boys to One Man Bands: War Reporting at CBS

I saw the news item like most of you probably did: CBS News Hires Digital Journalist to be Based in Afghanistan. Yup.

CBS' Mandy Clark

CBS' Mandy Clark

Who says the networks are shying away from covering highly important yet massively dangerous overseas stories?  Not CBS, snatching up former Voice of America VJ Mandy Clark, handing her a camera and a laptop (and hopefully battle armor) and sending her off into the poppy fields to see what the Taliban and al Qaeda are up to.

Maybe you had the reaction I did:  seriously?

CBS News Senior Vice President Paul Friedman said in a release on the hire:  “Mandy is intrepid and her wealth of experience reporting from the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere and her adroit use of technology, make her a terrific addition.”  Hmm.  If you’ve read CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier’s gripping book about the Iraqi bombing that took the life of her two-man crew and nearly killed her, you know that in a war zone, even the most routine walk and talks surrounded by the toughest, heavily armed American soldiers is sometimes no guarantee you’ll live to file your story.  Dozier and her crew debated the safety of every assignment and argued pros and cons.  Dozier’s in-country producer was a key player in raising alarm bells when the crew didn’t report in as expected, ultimately involving CBS brass in New York immediately and leading to Dozier’s air evacuation to a hospital where doctors are credited with saving her life.

CBS' Kimberly Dozier After Bombing

CBS' Kimberly Dozier After Bombing

It makes me think about the levels of protection a one-man-band doesn’t have in a place like Afghanistan–even something as simple as a second (or third) set of eyes to watch the horizon for a fast-approaching Toyota in the sand while shooting video of something the Taliban might prefer not make air on Katie Couric’s newscast.

Clark’s come close already.  In a recent assignment, she described getting caught in a firefight:  “Then an explosion of sound. Gunfire was coming from everywhere, all at once. I lay my back against an alcove of rocks. A soldier was right in front of me firing at the surrounding hills. I pointed my camera but had to turn my head away because my skin was being pelted by his spent bullet casings. There were commands and curses flying all around, along with the bullets and rockets. I remember trying to just focus on what I was filming. I knew this was an important story and I wanted to tell it right, to get the pictures just right. If my shots were too sloppy, they wouldn’t bring the viewer to the battle.”

I don’t know Mandy Clark, and have only seen one of her stories on CBS.  But I wonder how fast a decision like this–so high profile–will filter down to local stations already looking to expand their fleets of “digital journalists.”  Hey, why not send a solo photographer off to Iraq?  It’s been done, right?  How about maximizing our hurricane or tornado coverage?  Drive yourself into the worst of the storm, get what you can and hey, don’t forget to shoot a standup.  And be careful!  You know your safety is more important to us than any story.

Another War, Another World:  CBS' Murrow in London, 1944

Another War, Another World: CBS' Murrow in London, 1944

Murrow and his boys demonstrated the unique power of war reporting to captivate listeners and viewers.  “This… is London” still resonates with Americans who can remember hearing it.  All war reporting is dangerous.  But going it alone?

Why do I feel so uncomfortable?


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