Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Leadership Toledo, Media Day, Part A

Media Day!

That was today. Another fun-fill, fact-fill and interesting Leadership Toledo day!

Have you ever wondered what news you get to read or hear and what articles get buried?

We all met at WGTE Public Broadcasting Station to begin our day. After a very interesting presentation of ALL that WGTE does, we became news editors. We were given short intros of stories that had been pulled off various news feed lines. In small groups we had to decide which ten articles we would include in our newspaper, which six would make a TV newscast and then finally which three would make our radio newscast.

As we were trying to decide which articles we would choose, I said, "Now wait, what reasons or criteria are we using to choose the articles?" In other words, are we trying to gain reader/listenership or do we have another agenda? One person in our group commented that we didn't have time to do that, as we only had two minutes left to finish our task.

After completing our choices, a panel of three (one from newspaper, one from tv and one from radio) helped us to better understand what goes on every day when such decisions are being made.

Brian Trauring, WTVG 13 ABC, shared that yesterday, right about the time when they needed to have a lead story designated for the five o'clock news, there were rumors swirling around town about the firing of a certain city employee. (Our mayor is prone to lopping heads off at the drop of a hat.) He said that everyone at the station pounded the phones trying to get the "real skinny" on the story/rumor. While trying to get to the bottom of the story, Brian was also trying to decide if the rumor about this high profile person, made the rumor a news story anyway. He said that cooler heads than his convinced him not to run the story. It was interesting to hear because the time constraint he described was exactly what our group had just experienced in theory. Only he had really lived through it just 12 hours before. And he probably does it every day.

Tom Watkins, Cumulus Broadcasting, shared that at one point during his radio career, his boss came back from company meetings and shared that some higher-ups wanted Tom to "lean more to the right" in his show. His boss also said that he was not telling Tom to do this. Tom did not. But that brought forth a lot of questions from the Leadership gang about how the news might be slanted or altered. All three on the panel including Kim Bates, The Toledo Blade, city editor, agreed that their job is to produce an unbiased as possible report. They did admit that all reporters or news people do have opinions (after all they are human, too!) but they do try to stay as neutral as possible.

Tomorrow, I will tell you a little bit more about all the good works of WGTE and then in the next couple days I will tell you about our afternoon at the Toledo Blade - the paper everyone loves to hate.

On the way home I got to thinking -- what would happen if all national political candidate's stories were banned from the media? Instead there would only be a special website run by neutral observers, where candidates filed white papers on their platforms. (I know, I know, websites are considered media, but you know what I mean.)

What do ya' think?

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