Archives for August 2005

More Katrina insight

Here are two excellent posts by Staci Kramer:

Hurricane Katrina: Grasping The Concept
Hurricane Katrina: What Can We Do?

Here’s a great overview by Al Thompkins at Poynter (and a link all stations should keep handy):

Danger After the Storm.

UPDATE: And this from Adam Gaffin at “For a first-person blog by somebody who is holed up on the 11th floor of a downtown office building to keep his company data center running (along with some other staffers, his model girlfriend and a dwindling supply of diesel fuel for the emergency generators):”

The Interdictor

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Disaster brings the Web into focus

All media’s use of the Internet — and in a unique way, blogs and blog technology — in keeping us and the whole world informed about the catastrophe in the wake of hurricane Katrina is a welcome recognition of its place in the media firmament. Here’s an excellent example. Let me echo the comments of fellow Nashvillian Rex Hammock:

The time has come to officially end all “blog vs. traditional media” debates. It’s the story that matters. It’s the lives that matter. It’s whatever it takes to get the word out that matters. I’m sorry it has to come down to life and death for some folks to get this.
I completely agree with Rex and certainly hope that a new respect for blogging will be one of the fruits of this disaster. The technology provides an easy and effective way to publish information, and rather than bitching about it, we’re seeing mainstream media outlets use it effectively. Let’s hope this clears the way for a new generation of mainstream blogging innovations.

But it isn’t just blogging that’s getting props today. The Web as a significant part of our daily media lives is coming into focus.

The Times-Picayune’s Web outlet,, remains one of the most important links in the media chain on this story. The paper is unable to publish the old-fashioned way, but they are able to communicate information to the rest of us via the Web. A newspaper is now joined forever with its Web distribution.

WWL’s live streaming has been amazing and the ability to do this has to be at the top of every station’s priority list.

One veteran TV news observer wrote this morning that a station’s Website had “remained up throughout the storm and its aftermath.” This is because the site — like most — is hosted on a server a thousand miles away. Getting fresh information TO the server is only a matter of logistics, because it can be done with something as simple as a cellphone connection.

Meanwhile, Steve Safran at Lost Remote reminds us of the valiant efforts by local radio stations. When you’re without power, TV and the Web don’t mean much.

Last night one of the nets showed people in a neighborhood without power listening to important, potentially life-saving information on their car radio. It has been fascinating for us to follow the storm on the web. But for those in the middle of it, radio is their lifeline.
Thanks for the reminder, Steve.

All media deserves a big thanks from us for the coverage. The efforts of the local and network TV personnel have been heroic, to say the least. Brian Stelzer at TVNewser continues to provide outstanding coverage of the coverage, as do my friends at Lost Remote.

Anything and everything I can say is trite by comparison, and my hat’s off to everybody involved.

iPod video coming?

Are you ready for this? If you’re a broadcaster, the answer is probably no. CNET is reporting that Apple’s big announcement Monday in San Francisco may be to introduce a video iPod.

Record company executives have said recently that Apple has been seeking licenses to distribute a wide variety of music videos through the iTunes music store, and that the computer company has told them of plans to unveil an iPod that plays video.
Others doubt that this will be the announcement — that it will more than likely be the release of an iPod phone. Regardless, iPod video WILL come, and feeding video files as enclosures in an RSS feed will be a requirement of doing business in the video news world of tomorrow today.

Katrina: another breakthough moment for the Web

Aaron Bernhart writes in the Kansas City Star (Registration required) that ongoing severe weather coverage — long the bread and butter of television news alone — has a new suitor: the Internet.

…as TV cameras struggled to capture video of the rare Category 5 hurricane, news Web sites and amateur blogs offered snapshots and analysis of Katrina that were arguably better.
I believe we’re going to be reading more and more things like this as media outlets, including blogs, continue to mature online. While I agree with Mr. Bernhart that the Web provided some excellent material, I think a combination of the Internet and broadcast/cable provides the best coverage. Of course, one day those’ll be one and the same.

I’m very proud of the online work done by my client here in Nashville, WKRN-TV. They’re dedicated to the blogosphere like no other station in the country, and they’ve maintained a constant stream of quality postings that have been very, very well received by the online community. At one point yesterday, the station’s weather blog,, was getting 12-hundred hits a second, which caused the server to slow down until the Sausage Hosting technicians could ease the problem.

A Google search on the hurricane found the site ranked 10th; that’s not too shabby for a local weather blog. When you see the station’s chief meteorologist, Lisa Patton, actually interacting with commenters on a blog, you must acknowledge that something new is occurring in the media world.

Another station blog, Nashville Is Talking, lived up to its mission in providing smart aggregation of what others in the local blogosphere were saying and doing with regards to the weather.

This has not gone unnoticed in the local blogosphere. Rex Hammock — himself an A-list blogger of considerable repute — writes as an observer, and I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing the whole entry with you:

WKRN’s ROI on investing in the Nashville blogosphere: The WKRN weather bloggers at are displaying how blogging is different than reporting. For example, Justin Bruce, who’s been to most Nashville blogger meetups I’ve attended has posted details of the devastation some of his Louisiana relatives have experienced.

WKRN isn’t merely using a blogging platform to format news “content” (which I would applaud even if that were all they were doing), but they are using their blogs to help do away with the concept of “on-air-personality” and to replace it with, what?, on-air human beings — The station manager is even jumping onto the weather blog to let us know when one of them has to go home to get some sleep, when one of them gets sick.

The station has spent months inviting Nashville bloggers to the station (and even giving them and their kids air time. They’ve come to wherever bloggers find themselves together. They not only talk-the-talk but walk-the-walk. In short, they’ve earned “street cred” with a community of bloggers who, when we find ourselves in the midst of breaking news, will not only blog it ourselves as citizen journalists, but will gladly volunteer to be citizen stringers to help the station get the news out.

Bottomline: You can’t wait until the big news happens to put together this type of strategy.

How true, and let me add that the local blogosphere has now grown six-fold since we held our first meet-up in February. What my contemporaries don’t seem to understand is that the local blogosphere is a very real community and one that’s actually quite representative of the community as a whole. Touch local bloggers and you touch the community, and Rex’s post clearly speaks to that. On-air human beings. What a concept!

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten mostly rain here in middle Tennessee. A friend who handles a morning paper route in Huntsville, Alabama (90 miles south) wrote this morning that it wasn’t a lot of fun.

Papers this morning were an incomprehensible disaster. My body will eventually be the same; my car will never be.

I can say no more without screaming.

The weather is one thing in life that impacts us all, and it’s why media companies — especially television stations — spend huge resources predicting it and covering it. As we’re learning here in Nashville, it’s very wise to dedicate some of those resources to unique online coverage as well.

A little levity for a hurricane day

Here’s a link to an absolutely hilarious story on the ESPN Website that’ll put a smile on your face regardless of your situation.

ESPN producer Don Barone writes of his battle with backyard squirrels who’ve taken over his squirrel-proof bird feeder. Trust me, folks. This is funny.

Trusting ad measurements, or not

Joe Mandese is the editor of MediaPost, the company that produces MediaDailyNews and Online News Daily, among others. Today, Joe offers a couple of stories that must have made a guy like him sit back and chuckle.

In one, Nielsen announces that its adding 600,000 households to the TV universe in the US, a half a percent boost (from 109.6 million TV households to 110.2 million).

While the expansion is statistical–part of a periodic recalibration of the TV household population made by Nielsen to ensure that it is in balance with the overall U.S. population–it at least suggests that TV outlets have a greater audience upside than they did a year ago.
Ah, the old periodic recalibration. This is kind of like printing money, isn’t it? We start to run out, so we print some more. I mean, if the universe expands, then a percentage of that universe likewise expands, which means we can charge more for ads. And, after all, that’s what Nielsen’s audience measurement is all about.

But wait, there’s the second story from Joe. It seems that Madison Avenues’s research wing, the Advertising Research Foundation, has completed a study that says, among other things, that “none of the major media have audience measurement methods that are adequate for the way people use those media today.”

The study, dubbed a “Survey of Industry Concerns,” is based on the responses of 507 people who attended the (Accountability of Audience Measurement) forum in January, and gives poor grades to the methods that are the basis of advertising planning and buying for TV, radio, print media, and the Internet.
Well, there ya go, folks. None of it can be trusted anyway. Who knew?