Tag Archives: wpix

Seriously. Here Comes Everybody.

Mark Joyella and Tiffanie WongUntil a few days ago, I was the blogger in the family.  On my wife’s suggestion early this year, I launched this site to track the layoffs that were then a daily nightmare in newsrooms from coast to coast.  More recently, my focus has been on what happens next, and how all of us can stay relevant–and working.

When I walked away from my reporting job at WPLG in Miami at the height of the job-shedding, my blog got a sudden flood of attention, being picked up and linked by many of the major trade publications and websites.  It happened again when I wrote about NBC’s purchase of local domain names from coast to coast.

The other day my wife showed me what real web traffic looks like.  You see, she’s now the blogger in the family.

I could wail and moan about the injustice of it all–I write about journalism, for God’s sake, and the fate of a Nation and all that.  I write about jobs, and history and technology and blah blah blah.

My wife?  You may know her blog by now.  It’s certainly been in the papers and all over TV and the web:  she writes My Husband is Annoying, a site devoted to my quirks and eccentricities, like having a favorite green sweater (okay, sure, it does show up a lot in our vacation photos) and sometimes finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning (it’s not just me, right?)

Well, as a joke, she posted a few less-than-flattering photos of yours truly, and described what it’s like to live with me.  And we figured, hey, our friends will get a kick out of this. Post it to Facebook and get some LOLs.

A few Facebook comments and Tweets later, and the wife’s blog was mentioned by a hyperlocal website here in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Heights Blog, which got things rolling with the pithy and classic headline, “Area Man is Annoying Husband.”

714275As Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody could have told me, things were about to get weird, and fast.  First came the commenters.  A few LOLs, but a few “you sucks” also, and some strange, very personal comments on the nature of our marriage and my wife’s motive in creating the blog.  It was a blunt reminder that the media has shifted forever to an everybody-can-speak-without-your-permission dynamic, and the Old Media gatekeepers have no gates anymore.

As is happening in digital newsrooms around the world, editors post news stories online, reporters and anchors blog about their lives and hobbies–and then here comes everybody; some loving it, others eviscerating it.  How are stations, websites and papers handling comments?  My wife and I debated it in capital-J fashion:  give everyone their say no matter how offensive?  Keep the blog light and fun, as it was intended?  Or only weed out the truly sickening and borderline threatening?  Where’s the line?

My wife, a strong and amazing woman, posted every insulting comment–and the LOLs and You Go Girls–save one, which was truly unfit to print.

Then came the second wave:  the media.  Snarky New York blog Gothamist wrote up the site, as did a Dutch blog that translated My Husband is Annoying (we think) as “Mijn Man is Vervelend. The pageviews began to skyrocket.  My LocalNewser record high fell quickly and it wasn’t even close.

Then the New York Daily News came calling, putting my wife and I across an entire page of the paper, and posting a video interview on the front page of the DN’s website.  I found odd satisfaction and pride in the News proclaiming me “New York’s most annoying husband.”

That article landed on BuzzFeed, and you could literally watch my wife’s pageviews jump by the hundreds every time you hit “refresh.”  It was astonishing.

Before we were out of bed the morning the News hit the streets, bookers from network morning shows and syndicated daytime shows were calling, along with radio stations from Florida to California.

I was recognized while shooting a story for WPIX at the New York Transit Museum by someone (I thought they were going to say “aren’t you the guy from TV?”) who said, “you’re the husband.  From the paper.  The annoying husband.”

This truly is a demonstration of the speed we’re working at these days.  Bret Favre signs with the Vikings and the reporter with the scoop goes to Twitter, not TV.  Why?  Have to. Can’t afford to wait.  It’s a new world.  If you can remember three-quarter decks?  Well, you’ve got to re-wire your brain and adjust to the new speed.

It’s fast.  And we, as journalists, don’t really have any access to the brakes anymore.  We can’t slow something down when it’s moving too fast.  If we do, all that will happen is we stop moving forward and other journos–or just the masses–will tell the story on their own.

Here comes everybody.

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The Journalist, Improvised

There’s a quote from Henri Matisse that goes “there are wonderful things in real jazz, the talent for improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience.” Matisse was talking about choosing the word “Jazz” as the title of one of his final collections, the hand-brushed and stenciled works released under the Jazz name in 1947.

The series–now considered among the most important of Matisse’s career–grew out of setback and pain: as Greg Kucera describes the period, “The years of World War II were a difficult time for Matisse and his family. He had separated from his wife Amelie in 1940 when he moved to the south of France. His wife and his daughter Marguerite were each tried and then jailed by the Gestapo for their parts in the French Resistance movement. Marguerite was tortured and then deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp but was miraculously rescued before arriving there.”  The artist himself was ravaged by gallstones, insomnia, failing vision, and the after effects of surgery for intestinal cancer, but as Kucera reflects, the pain produced a spark:  “After a risky operation, Matisse remarked to his friend Albert Marquet in 1942, ‘Truly, I’m not joking when I thank my lucky stars for the awful operation I had, since it has made me young again and philosophical which means that I don’t want to fritter away the new lease on life I’ve been given.'”

Without drawing too sharp a parallel, I believe many journalists are finding their own inspiration in the pain of unemployment, furlough and fear.  Over the past weeks, journalists on this page have shared their own versions of Matisse’s improvisational “Jazz:”  for Brian Andrews, it was selling everything he owned to move from Miami to Columbia and–quite literally–start his own English language news operation. For Polly Kreisman, it’s an online hyperlocal effort that, like the lady herself, has smarts and attitude.

And now, almost without realizing it, I’ve found myself producing my own collection of new works unlike anything I’ve produced before.  I’m improvising, and I’m loving it.  As you know (since you’re here), I began blogging back in January as a way of expressing my own uncertainties about the local television news business.  The daily writing–and connecting with creative, passionate people across the country–has become a treasured part of my life.  It started as strict improvisation:  I had no idea what it would become, I just knew I was being honest, about the business, and most of all, about myself.  As Matisse wrote, I was truly being “at one with the audience.”

UCB

Improv! On Stage at New York's Upright Citizens' Brigade Theater

And like nothing I’ve written before, people have responded to that.  I’ve made new connections, joined with other journalists determined to innovate and create instead of sit and bitch, and a few weeks ago, I found myself contacted about a job that somehow, in all the job-listing-looking I’d been doing, I missed. And they hired me.  (No agent-negotiated, megabucks deal here–I’m working for a nonprofit, and making nonprofit wages, so I’ll still be blogging my heart out, shooting my own stuff for my neighborhood newsblog, and getting goofy on Saturday nights for Toni Senecal’s “Toni On! New York” on WPIX.  (Today’s shoot:  doing improv with the comics at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade–am I driving the improvisation metaphor too hard?–if I am, whatev, they’re crazy funny and it was a blast to share the stage with them.)

Recovering Journalist and Philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch

"Recovering Journalist" and Philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch

Anyway, a week ago I ventured into a world that may one day be commonplace for journalists, or, perhaps, it won’t.  But for now, I’m part of  a journalistic experiment being bankrolled by a philanthropist (Ruth Ann Harnisch, former local newser turned benefactor to journalism schools, research programs and countless community efforts) and being studied by a university professor seeking–as so many of us are–new ways to keep journalists on the job.  I’m serving as a “community supported journalist” who works not for a paper or television station, but for a group of people who have a shared interest, in this case, in the field of coaching.  Will people interested in getting news on their field one day decide it’s worth their own money to keep a reporter on the beat? We’ll know more in a year.

The Coaching Commons:  Like No Newsroom I've Been a Part Of

The Coaching Commons: Like No Newsroom I've Been a Part Of

For now, I’m part pioneer, part guinea pig.  And improvising my butt off.  But like the artist with the new lease of life, I feel a stronger connection to my original love of journalism, writing, and storytelling than I’ve felt in a long time.  In part, because I really don’t know what I’m going to do next.  And also, because I feel a kinship with all the others out there spinning plates, juggling knives and tap dancing…waiting to see what new show an audience will pay for.

I feel confident one day soon we’ll look back and realize that some of us are doing some of the most important work of our careers.

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Dispatch from the Frontlines: Polly Kreisman

Polly Kreisman

In the Loop: Polly Kreisman

I am an obsessive journalist the way some people kayak or collect star trek trinkets. I can’t help seeing the world the way I want to write it or shoot it or edit it for others. And then, I can’t help reporting it.

So the transition from old media to new media for me is the easiest thing in the world.

And the hardest.

For what we have here folks, is the Wild West. No assignment editor sending you to an apartment fire. No tweaking possible once your piece has aired. No beginning, middle or end to your day. And no more ‘one thing’ to call yourself: producer, reporter, producer/reporter, managing editor, cameraperson, one man band, guy at the lunch place.

Nope, not anymore.

For example, I have been trying to write this blog post since 9:30 am.  (Actually, since May 12) It is now 5:12. In the interim, I have had to write and send out my weekly newsletter (which helps bring people to theLoop,) upload four new articles, format the artwork for a new advertiser and put it in the ad server, finish writing a business plan, field emails with news and content to post, then post it, gently kick my two 7-year olds out of my home office (twice), and plan the next installment of LoopTV…all the while nursing a hangover from a Loop event last night (hey, it was my birthday.)

(Sorry- just had to post some breaking news and new real estate listings–damn formatting took forever)

looptiedyeMy goal for today was to read virtual piles of articles I have saved about hyperlocal business models and how to monetize them. In other words, how to make money doing this. As someone wrote to me today, it really is one of the first big new media questions of the 21st century.

Never got to that.

So while this feeds my news jones…and sometimes feeds my family, I have had to wear hats I never knew were in the closet:  Business Manager, Ad Sales (ew!), Computer Programmer, Event Planner, Graphic Artist, PR person, Accountant…Then there’s the micro-version of things that will never change: Instead of the ballsy “Eat, Drink and Be Wary” segments we did at WWOR TV (anyone remember the rats at the Bagel factory on the West Side Highway?) or that month upon month–long siege with the Korean-American community excoriating my 7-months pregnant self and WPIX TV for finding (and confirming on video and in lab testing) that certain members were breeding dogs for the restaurant trade–it’s the local coffee bar in Larchmont, NY where I found rats dancing up a storm through the window.  That proprietor, a year later, is still trying to shut us down, much the way the Korean Community tried to extract a retraction from the station. And much the way the H & H Bagel CEO came on the set with me one night and insisted I “put” the mice in the video.  One of the things I loved about being a reporter was the ability to do something new every day, meet people I never would have otherwise, and learn about their jobs, which were so different than the one I had.  And maybe along the way pass something on to give the audience more information about his/her world, whether it pisses someone off in the process or not. Hopefully, not.

And really, in that way, nothing’s changed.

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Laid Off? At Least You Get Severance Pay, Right? Uh, Right?

Longtime WPIX/NY reporter Glenn Thompson, laid off by Channel 11 last December, now says the company won’t budge on the severance pay he believes he’s owed.  Thompson tells the New York Post’s Michael Starr:  “They were supposed to pay my severance immedi ately on Jan. 6, the day my contract officially expired,” he says. “No one’s given me any answers at all.”

The Old School WPIX Logo

Thompson, who spent twenty years at PIX, now insists he can’t even get a returned phone call from the station.  “It’s pretty outrageous to me,” he says. “They’re con tractually bound to pay me. I said to them, ‘I’m gonna have to sue.’ I want my severance.” Ch. 11 officials had no com ment yesterday.

Starr reports part of the problem may be PIX owner Tribune’s bankruptcy filing, which has much of its business dealings tied up in the courts.  Still, c’mon people.  Two decades?  Can we get a call back?  The speed with which beloved members of the station’s “family” become nonentities–if it happens faster and with more ice-cold shoulderiness in any other business, I’d love to know.

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WPIX/NY Sports Anchor Calls “Retirement” Story Bogus

Sal Marchiano/WPIX

Sal Marchiano/WPIX

The warm NYC sendoff ended a 14 year career on the sports desk for Sal Marchiano at WPIX/NY:  “Sal made a decision to retire at the end of this year, and last week was Sal’s last week on the air as our sports anchor,” a WPIX-TV spokeswoman told the Daily News in late December.  Now, we’re getting Sal’s version of the story:  ” They told me I was out – finished,” Marchiano told the Daily News’ Bob Raisson.  “They were not renewing my contract.  The order came down from the top.” 

Marchiano says not only was the “retirement” story bogus, he’s hardly ready to walk away from covering New York sports.  “I’m a free agent,” Marchiano says, who tells Raisson he was fully expecting a new contract, was ready to take concessions given the state of the economy, but was instead sent to pasture, complete with a sweet story of retirement Raisson suggests Marchiano only learned about by reading the Daily News.  (Echoes of WNYW main news anchor Len Cannon, who learned of his departure from the NY’s FOX O&O by reading the front page of the New York Post, announcing the multi-million dollar signing of New York legend Ernie Anastos)

Raisson writes:  “Marchiano’s termination is more about what’s happening in the local TV news business than it was about his performance. Industry sources say all six local stations, which for decades were cash registers, are losing money – big money. This has led to cutbacks. It has also led to major players, including local sports anchors making mid six-figures and up, either taking drastic pay cuts or, in Marchiano’s case, being fired. “

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