The KTVU story involves a lot of sidebars. After the initial shock and horror; the broadcast itself; Tori Campbell reading those names on auto-pilot, uproarious world-wide laughter, (then shock); the firings, now comes layers and layers of heavy-duty lawyering, on both sides.
So far, only Roland De Wolk has spoken and it was a mere tongue-in-cheek response to The Wrap that a lot of people failed to pick up. De Wolk has a lot of cachet in town and probably will land another gig if he so chooses...Same for Brad Belstock too who had the misfortune of tweeting out a message many people at Channel 2 felt was about right, but the world of corporate sensitivity to social media and its implications says otherwise...Many of you have said firing 4 people, (actually 3, since one was retiring anyway), is an over-reaction. NO. I said from day 1 that "heads would roll" over this: You have a brand, an image to PROTECT. What happened to KTVU will forever be stamped on that Oakland TV station. In this digital age, that means forever. Like, FOREVER! Think of this story: A college student is at a local coffee café in, say, Columbus, Ohio and overhears, "KTVU"--what's the first thing that comes to mind? Yep, THAT thing. See, that's the reason why 3 people are gone and more might be seeing pink slips later on. KTVU, as someone put it, the "60 Minutes" of Bay Area TV News, has a major stain on its reputation. There's a fair amount of grief, commiseration and hell over what happened. Really? Yeah and the sad thing is that even the most hardened vets over there are miserable. They have to live with this the rest of their professional lives and they just lost 3 of their friends, many of whom are damn good journalists....
WHAT, Rich, was IT that cost them their jobs? I'm working on it. And I'm working on the "source" that sent the punked e-mail; there's a HELLUVA lot MORE to this story, (bear with me); we're dealing with a complex web of various things and people, the unintended consequences premise, the "perfect storm" stuff that is still in the studying process. I believe the person, (not a source), who told me, it was their feeling, (and this person has been there a long time), that the whole "joke" was just that; a joke. That it actually made it past 4-5 people that should know better is still a Major Befuddlement to me. I'm still dumbstruck. I mean, after 2 weeks, there's a general gaze of: YOU DIDN'T CATCH THAT?!! HUH?!!
WHAT ABOUT TORI CAMPBELL? There's plenty of why didn't that brain-dead anchorwoman, (white woman), get fired? Fair question. Campbell wasn't fired, (for now), in large part because she recently re-upped and for considerable money; if they bounced her, it would cost them a lot of money and they'd probably have to pay her more and then the lawyers...That doesn't necessarily mean she's safe--everybody is still under the gun save for maybe one of the sports guys and the weather people.
The fact is, yes, the teleprompter is a powerful weapon and when you're, (Campbell), pressed into the last-minute, ("BREAKING NEWS"!) reading what MOST OF US saw after the FIRST "NAME" as a stupid, funny, Internet list of names, would have begged Tori to say, "Wait a minute--let's go to a commercial break, we'll be back in a moment."Too bad 'cause if Tori does that we're not talking about this. Not a peep.
I'm sorry, Tori, but you blew it. You're human, I get it, but you blew it and there is no excuse. Of course I'm going to get lambasted, (again), over my opinion, but please, this is that case of pure common sense. If Tori Campbell can't STOP and see the obvious than there's something wrong--I don't give a shit about READING, TRUSTING, the copy on the teleprompter as if it was THE GOSPEL. I mean, if one is that deaf tone there's a problem here. She's not a rookie for heavens sake, she didn't arrive from Toledo with a banker husband--she's been in the biz for 20 years, gimme a break!
MANAGEMENT: Rich, they threw everyone under the bus to save their ass! Uh, I agree with a lot of that thinking. And to this day, Cox isn't finished its business. As I keep saying, this isn't over.
Lee Rosenthal isn't exactly looking good at this point. He's not entirely at fault for this but it happened on his watch. Moreover, his "FIRST, FIRST, first, first, FIRST" dreck has a lot of bad karma and he wasn't exactly blameless. Some people have told me Rosenthal has "lost the newsroom"--if that's the case, then he'll be gone no matter what...Tom Raponi, the GM, a "good guy" by all accounts doesn't know how to handle a crisis. Repeated silence, (shit-canned, bullshit PR releases don't count and benign no-comments are useless) is not how to run a TV station. To Raponi's defense, I'm sure Atlanta Corporate had a lot do with this but Raponi could have done himself, (and the station, for that matter), a favor and handle the situation a whole lot better.
YOU'RE GOING TO TRY TO ERASE THE VIDEOS FROM THE INTERNET? Are you fucking serious? !! That's just great strategy, guys. Maybe too you can get them to pull the planes crashing into the Trade Towers too while you're at it. That's piss-poor management. That's amateur hour work not the kind of activity that pros produce. ...And bringing Amber Lee to the AAJA to CYA is a major embarrassment. Great. Further muddy-up the already ingrained clusterfuck.
IT WAS A MISTAKE, RICH.: Yeah, it was but it was a mistake that CANNOT happen in a TV News operation, much less a station with the call letters, K T V U. No, see, yes, mistakes happen, every day, in every profession, that's why they have a "clarification" section in the newspaper. THIS MISTAKE is unforgiving, unacceptable, and should have NEVER happened. Trust me on this.
LET'S MOVE ON RICH--YOU'RE BEATING A DEAD HORSE!! Really, then you don't know the business. You're not a media person and you don't get nor can comprehend the severity of this; forget its massive traction, its sheer "Oh Shitnesss" here and beyond, you simply don't understand the ramifications of what THIS is and how it will ruin the machinations and goings-on of newsrooms across the land.
And the people who work in the newsroom across the land ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS!...they chat in the lunchroom, they kibbutz out in the field during breaks. The chatter is endless. Go to Twitter. Take a peek at the message boards. You don't know how much the yakkers, the editors, the EP's, the ND's, the rank and file, the assignment desk--they're all over this shit, so, NO, you're tired of this, YOU move on.
That's why this is a media blog.
SPEAKING of this: I do not take glee in scooping an entire Bay Area News market over the axing of 3 people. I wished the subject matter was more pleasant. It speaks volumes that hardly anyone here is still covering this ONGOING story. Which is sad given the enormity of this story--not just the story itself but its endless sidebars.
Been an interesting week and there's certainly more to come. Keep it here for the latest developments.
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