Saturday, July 28, 2007

WNBC's "Live at Five" Dead

What does a guy in Tuscaloosa, Ala. care about a New York City newscast going off the air?

Well, I used to watch "Live at 5" on Channel 4 as a kid whenever I visited New Jersey where my cousin (now in Richmond, Va.) used to live.

Much of my great affection for local television news came from viewing it in what is still the nation's number-one media market-- New York City.

I remember even before going to college at Howard Univ. watching WNBC's Live at Five broadcast with Sue Simmons and Jack Cafferty. That would have been in the 1980s.

Now Jack is on CNN and Sue is still anchoring the program... well until September 10 when a new schedule begins on WNBC-TV.

WNBC's 5 p.m. newscast was the ORIGINAL "Live at Five." This week the management at WNBC announced they're replacing the afternoon newscast with an Entertainment program, EXTRA.

Station management says viewers have longer commutes and they can get the news at that hour lots of other places. There's the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN. Essentially the early afternoon newscast is not where the viewers are.

The television station where I worked the longest, WXIA-TV, Atlanta's NBC station realized this years ago when it nixed 11Alive News at 5 (a newscast I helped produce for a short period) and debuted "Atlanta's Evening News" at 7 p.m.

The end of "Live at Five" is big enough story that it made The New York Times today. The means history will record that an era in local television news has ended.

The piece in the New York Daily News, though, came out a day earlier.

Well, maybe it's not THAT dramatic. But, it's worth jumping on my blog to comment on this change.

The next time I go to New York, I'll only be able to see Sue on the 11pm news with her late night news partner, Chuck Scarborough. Chuck will be anchoring WNBC's new 7 p.m. newscast that will follow NBC Nightly News.

Hey-- the one thing in life that is constant is CHANGE.

Monday, July 23, 2007

From Ideas to Action- Scripps Institute 2007

Six weeks after the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute in Indianapolis on the Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus, our local efforts to step up professional development, keep government open and promote ethical newsgathering are just now hitting.

For most college chapters, the Society of Professional Journalists chapter activity is rather low this time of year.

At the moment, I’m preparing for a planning luncheon for our chapter officers.

Topping that agenda will be the plans/goals that I drafted for the chapter following the Institute, which took place the first week of June. The key word is “drafted.” These strategic goals are only ideas that the officers and the chapter’s other co-adviser need to embrace even before putting the vision before the entire chapter membership for a vote.

Leadership styles and management strategies were among the topics on which we focused during our three days at the Scripps Institute. It was refreshing to see how many other journalists had the leadership style as I. But, it’s just as important to realize htose leadership styles in the other chapter officers.

Just as important as the strategies, goals and vision for our chapter is having a firm understanding of the national organization and where it’s going.

One of the highlights of the Scripps Leadership Institute was the question-and-answer session with the top national SPJ officers. President-Elect Clint Brewer (from the City Paper in Nashville) delivered a “State of the SPJ” address and took questions from Institute attendees.

Caring about the future of journalism is a reason why one might be involved in SPJ. The Scripps Institute helped me get a view of how we can make this all-important organization even better.

The Institute wasn't all work. We had a little "play" time on Friday night as I had a chance to go "duck-pin" bowling for the first time. Sue Porter from the Scripps Howard Foundation probably bowled better than I.

It may have taken six weeks fro me to write this summary of my experience. But, my enthusiasm for what I do as an SPJ co-adviser is no less intense now than it was when I attended the Institute last month.

Now the real work begins.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Update on MJW

Like many other streams of thought or promises to POST-- this one appears to have gone un-addressed.

The MJW program is moving into it's second week tonight. I hope to post some photos I took soon.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Diverse group arrives for MJW 2007

Diversity of places, diversity of people and diversity of experiences are just three ways to describe the 17 students who make up the cohort of high school students attending the 2007 Multicultural Journalism Workshop here at the University of Alabama.

This is the first in a series of postings over the next 10 days from “MJW,” as the program is affectionately called. I’ll be among the faculty members working with this talented group selected from the nearly 200 inquiries the University initially received about the workshop that is in its 24th year of existence.

I'm planning to use this particular blog posting as a "teaching tool" tomorrow (Monday) as I'm talking about multimedia and multi-platform reporting. You'll notice I have NO QUOTES and a lot of first names in this posting, two characteristics of the first-person, casual writing style of many bloggers.

During tonight’s opening banquet and orientation on the University campus, I had a chance to meet all 17 students and hear about some of their experiences and backgrounds.

I think I probably connected in some way with most of them. There was Alex from Montgomery who is attending the workshop after just completing the tenth grade at Montgomery’s Booker T. Washington Magnet High School just a few blocks from the Alabama State Capitol.

I remember being in the tenth grade when I attended UJW, the Urban Journalism Workshop in at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. in 1986.

Like Alex, I had not done much journalism writing, but was just simply loved to write.

Then there was the “ATL” crew, the three students from Metro Atlanta, where I lived for two years and worked for five as a news producer at WXIA-TV’s “11 Alive News.”

One student is a rising junior at Grady High School, which shares the name “Henry Grady” with my alma mater, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Grady High School is a magnet program for communication while The Westminister Schools is home to an athlete attending our workshop. Carrington Jackson plays basketball, football and tennis. Now he’s going to add newswriting to his portfolio.

According to Wikipedia Web site, The Westminster Schools has the largest endowment of any non-boarding secondary school in the United States. The school's expressed mission is "to develop the whole person for college and for life through excellent education."

Closer to home, we have students here from every region of Alabama including the Shoals Area, the Anniston/East Alabama, South Central Alabama (including Selma and Montgomery) and Mobile as well as Sumter County in the far western part of the state.

Did I mention one of our students was part of the scrapbook team that took first place at Alabama’s Beta Club Conventions?

I told Brooke that we know we will have a great scrapbook from the 24th Annual Multicultural Journalism Workshop.

As one who scrapbooks or blogs from every trip I take, I know Brooke from Winston County High in Double Springs, Ala. is going to teach me a thing or two about chronicling one’s experiences.

This year’s class has students from as far away as Camden, South Carolina and as close as Tuscaloosa’s Northridge High School. In fact, I met Adelaide O’Neal at another journalism workshop here on the UA campus just about a year ago. She’s going to the editor of state and regional award-winning Northridge Reporter in the fall.

Some of the students are on a mission—to go back to their high schools and revive or reinvigorate their school papers. Aaron, a student a Cordova High School in Walker County, plans to go back and inspire the rest of his Blue Devil schoolmates to get their newspaper going again.

Aaron is one of three students from the Birmingham Metro area. We also have students from Ramsey High in the City of Birmingham and Briarwood Christian High School.

After spending most of this past academic year working in the Knight Fellows program based at The Anniston Star, it was great to see one from the Anniston-Oxford area. Ashley is a student Faith Christian School.

Several of the students have already learned how to use Adobe InDesign and at least a third of the students brought their own digital cameras.

I can already predict this will be the most visually-skilled of the classes we’ve had in recent years.

Over the next ten days, these students will learn the journalism craft as they put out an edition of Tuscaloosa’s newest community publication, The West End Journal.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Closing Out Seven Cities, Six Weeks

Unfortunately, both my iBook and digital camera were stolen enroute to Columbia last month. Hence, the reporting on the Seven Cities, Six Weeks tour had to be cut short.

It was when I stopped to take photos at the South Carolina State Capitol in Columbia June 21 when I realized the camera was missing.

It, along with my laptop computer (and nearly two years worth of production work) were removed from the backseat of my automobile.

No, they should have been left there. That has turned out to be a VERY EXPENSIVE mistake.

It was the most devastating loss of equipment that I've ever experienced. Two weeks later, I can at least write about what happened here.

Reflecting on Fourth of July Worship

Thanks to a unique worship experience today, Independence Day 2007 will always stand out in my mind.

What was called “A July 4th Morning Celebration of God” didn’t draw a standing-room only crowd at Tuscaloosa’s Cornerstone Full Gospel Baptist Church.

But everyone who needed to be there was present. The 150 or so of us in addition for the unprecedented two-hour service heard some of the best preaching on freedom this side of heaven.

I couldn’t continue on with my holiday activities without pausing to report and reflect on them.

Like the Bible says, seven is the number of completion and today’s 4th of July celebration would not have been complete without each of the seven ministers’ sermonettes that focused us on our freedom that comes from being a son or daughter in God’s family.

The senior pastor, Bishop Earnest Palmer, who developed today’s service only within the last two weeks kicked off the tag-team preaching by introducing the scripture from first four verses of the 12th chapter of Genesis. He was followed by our youth pastor and our executive pastor and our director of protocol.

Even as a member of Cornerstone for about two years, I don’t remember a time when this many members of the church’s ministerial staff shared God’s Word in a single service.

“Our independence must be radical,” said Elder Lionel Grant, director of youth ministries. “What we’re doing today is radical.”

Grant’s remarks were echoed by Elder Tomalisa Washington, who noted that despite it being Independence Day some people still don’t “feel very liberated.”

“In order to get what God has for you, you have to release what’s in your hand,” Elder Washington said.

Her husband, Freddie Washington, who also is an elder and serves as Cornerstone’s executive pastor echoed her comments.

“One of the hardest lessons to learn is when it’s time to get out,” he said.

While the first three sermonettes focused on the passage from Genesis, the latter four messages used Biblical passages from the New Testament to explain our liberation by faith.

“We’re in transition,” said Minister Tschalla Jerido, who explained the significance of the 4th of July coming at the midpoint of the year, a time for us to reflect on how we are progressing toward those goals we set for 2007 and what lies ahead in part-time of the year.

There was so much of God’s Word preached today that it’s hard to recount it all. Those were some of the things that stood out in my mind.

Admitting that she was not as focused on her freedom as an American because she was “born free,” Elder Arleta Riley challenged those to focus on that freedom we were not born with”

“I wasn’t born saved,” she said. “When you’re freed from something, you’re released to something.”

As I reflect on this morning’s service, I feel released to not only report on what occurred, but to think differently and appreciate the freedom that comes in being released to do greater things not at new level (a phrase Bishop Palmer doesn’t like).

Instead, Bishop Palmer has encouraged us to go to a “new dimension” in our thinking and our way of operating this year.

The work continues.