Friday, May 16, 2014
A single act can change perceptions and alter stereotypes for both the good and the bad. That’s a -very- important concept in both news and in public relations. Ask Tara the Hero Cat. The Badass cat. The cat of millions of YouTube views. The cat of the hour. The cat of 15 minute fame. But NOT a Scaredy Cat. The Lion King came to the rescue of her family’s young son when he was attacked by a dog. Dog bites cat does not make news. Cat attacks dog and that becomes a worldwide sensation. The turn of that phrase is attributed to a newspaper editor well over a century ago. His point was that the ordinary rarely attracts attention (unless, in my opinion, the ordinary comes under the reflection of an extraordinary reporter). The weight of the story and its place in a news cycle can be puzzling. Tara the Hero Cat gets over 7 million views in 24 hours. Kyle White received the Medal of Honor. He got just over 8 thousand. Donald Sterling says a few stupid words and becomes non-stop cable coverage, temporarily knocking Malaysia Flight 370 off CNN. But the quiet words of ordinary courage are rarely heard. Who makes those decisions? Increasingly, you do. Some platforms are driven by algorithmically selected content. The more clicks, the more shares, the more traffic.. the higher prominence it gains on a platform. It’s a prominent tool for many online platforms. Hero cats, Kardashians and water skiing squirrels will always win. One wonders, with the rush by the Legacy Media to establish beachheads in the digital space, whether editorial branding will still be upheld. But the algorithms of artificial intelligence have not won total victory.. yet. In a windowless room on West 57th Street in New York, behind the set of the CBS Evening News, a long conference table is set in view of a wall sized monitor where little squares, frame the talking heads of bureau chiefs across the US and the world. The executives in New York file in at precisely 10 a.m. for the morning meeting. They sit at the table. Producers and others fill seats along the wall. It’s impressive, and it’s not. Because in some 210 cities across the nation, at about the same time, similar gatherings are occurring in newsrooms from New York (market #1) to Glendive, Montana (market#210). Each of these will weigh the big stories of the day, for their audience, and they may range from a destabilized middle eastern country that may cause ripples and rips in terror assessments and markets across the globe (CBS News) to the increase in oil drilling activity in Eastern Montana (KXGN). That’s just television newsrooms. The same process goes on in newspaper and digital newsrooms across the country and the world. Some of those discussions are impassioned and heated. Most in the business have thick skins and see the exchange as part of the dialectic process. Some don’t get it. Ask Jill Abramson. It would be a shame if the New York Times fired a woman for being Too Tough to Succeed. Those debates are about what stories are important, which are relevant, how do they impact lives and how do they balance the editorial content of the broadcast, newspaper or digital site. It’s all about balance, the attempt to appeal to a broad section of consumers. Which brings us back to Tara. It would be hard to find a news organization that did not cover the story of the hero cat who: Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage; And saved her young charge. Tara is riding the wave of celebrity. She will throw the first pitch at the Bakersfield Blaze baseball game. My cats sleep quietly in a sunspot while I write. Fate and Fame remain at paws length. ______________________________________________
Masters of Reinvention
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
America loves a good spectacle.. and an amazing comeback. Several may be in the works. In Augusta, where azaleas perform their annual rites of spring, where Amen Corner has prompted the silent prayers, the heroic escapes and rallies by such as Palmer, Nelson and Snead, there is the return of Tiger Woods to the Masters. Major titles for Tiger are elusive of late. Overtaking the storied record of 18 majors by Jack Nicklaus may be slipping away. Sports fans have short attention spans, though. If Woods were to win his fifth green jacket, the headlines would roar: Tiger’s Back! Even though it would be his first major since 2008. Even though at 37, he’s reaching an age where topping Nicklaus becomes increasingly remote. Even with a game plagued with injuries and a scandal that still follows like a silent gallery, Woods is one putt away from a comeback. Victory changes all. Some think golf is a tough game. They haven’t played politics. Two men are seeking redemption at their own Amen Corners, their careers interrupted mid-ascension by sex scandals. Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor who honed metaphor out of mountain by “hiking the Appalachian Trail”, with an Argentine paramour while leaving his state and wife in the lurch, is running in a special congressional election May 7. He won a primary against 15 other candidates and celebrated with his mistress by his side. Forgiveness rolls off his tongue with a frequency equal that of fiscal conservatism and thus far, it’s an act that’s working. If, and if in this race is a viable qualifier, he wins against challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who brings the full arsenal of a Democratic party smelling blood on Republican waters, then Sanford will have upended at least a generation of GOP theory where an elected official caught with his pants down, followed the same trajectory among conservative voters. He will bring new meaning to redemption for Republicans and a new playbook for political damage control experts. All accomplished with a moon-dog look and unabashed use of phrases like ‘soul mate’ and ‘true love’. Anthony Weiner, the former Democratic Congressman from New York who will live in infamy, and late night comedy, in a pair of boxers and boner is coming out. Out in the media first. Out in politics, later.. maybe, as a mayoral candidate in New York. He is testing the waters of public opinion with tearful and emotive interviews with his wife Huma Abedin. She was deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when Weiner exposed himself publicly. She was also pregnant with their first child. The New York Times Magazine offers a lengthy and well written dissection of Weiner’s fall, and orchestrated political path to redemption, with Huma by his side. The political wisdom would seem to be that for either, win or lose, the first race after a catastrophe is a burner campaign, a chance to air the past and put it behind you. These two would not be the first politicians to lie to their constituents, bring disgrace to their families and somehow return again to prominence. In this age of ever shrinking news cycles, it is no longer just fifteen minutes of fame, but infamy as well. To repurpose the great Mencken: No one ever lost an election by underestimating the attention span of the American public. But in the case of fallen politicians, to my knowledge, no one has won one either. ______________________________________________
CBS Changing Its Morning Routine - Amanda Muñoz-Temple - NationalJournal.com
Friday, July 1, 2011
CBS Changing Its Morning Routine - Amanda Muñoz-Temple - NationalJournal.com ______________________________________________
CBS, Welcome Home
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Seems the word has escaped. I am thrilled to be returning to CBS News and to the Early Show.
This process began several months ago with regime change in the Middle East. That lure held latent grew stronger. Then Japan, Libya, tornadoes and Bin Laden. It became apparent if I did not return soon, the only major stories left would be a live capture of Big Foot or a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.
The regime change in the Middle East seemed to coincide with regime change at CBS News. Even the early signs of that transformation seemed to indicate that Jeff and David were dedicated to bringing the division back to our center. The believers were back. I wanted to be a part.
This opportunity is one that I accept with excitement, humility in the trust invested and a healthy dose of fear.
When I left almost four years ago I said, “ My highest regard and greatest reward has been to work with some of the best correspondents and producers of our times, who put themselves in place and in peril to cover the stories.."
My esteem for all of you has never waned.
I am honored to return, to refocus on the editorial strengths of CBS News and to work alongside each of you as we work to create a new model for the morning broadcast.
See you Monday. ______________________________________________