Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter rant

So, I was reading an article about Garry Trudeau and his twitter habit.

I encourage you to check out the entire article. Trudeau is the brains behind the Doonesbury comic strip. His twitter account is essentially a character from the comic strip as I understand it. Anyway, a media website interviewed him about using twitter.

For some reason the reporter asked Trudeau if he thinks "tvnewsers" are providing worthwhile tweets.

" None that I can find. Some reporters inoffensively tweet links to a broadcast, column or blog they've produced; they likely don't even do it themselves and they never respond to follower replies."

He goes on to say, "but in general the most baffling are the reporters who solicit their followers for questions before interviews. Please. You're supposed to be professionals. Do pilots and surgeons ask for suggestions? If you can't think of a few good questions, you and your producer are in the wrong business. It's not about getting fresh, out-of-the-bubble perspectives, as they would argue: most questions sent in are obvious or inane. It's really about flattering the followers, populist pandering."

This reporter is one of those "tvnewsers" that ask for questions. Frankly, it baffles me how a cartoonist is qualified to give expert opinions about our business. That aside, it's ludicrous for someone to be a part of social media that doesn't think interaction is important.

How often are we (news business) ridiculed for not being connected to our viewers and not understanding what they really want. So, when we ask for their input we are then criticized? In any profession, collaboration is typically the best way to find success.

I am the sole producer and host for my political show. I can read about a topic until I'm blue in the face but someone may have a great question that has actually lived through it. People are raised and educated in many different ways and can give different perspectives to different issues. One person cannot simply come up with all the perfect questions. Collaboration makes any project better. That doesn't make me unprofessional. It makes me thorough and it helps engage our viewers and encourages them to participate and watch. You don't think surgeons collaborate on finding better ways to operate and perform better? You don't think they use feedback from patients to do their jobs better? I think we know the answer to that question.

By disregarding viewer questions we are basically saying they aren't smart enough to ask smart, tough questions. That's ignorant and a big reason why viewers are not watching tv news, giving up newspaper/magazine subscriptions, etc. Too many people in the media think we are smarter than our viewers. In some cases we are, but in many cases we are not. We just have better access to the people who have the answers.

The bottom line is it's a way to interact with a new generation of viewers on a new and extremely popular platform. Even if it's not incredibly useful in a broad sense yet, it's definitely not harmful. This is new. Am I making mistakes and learning how to use this new tool? Absolutely. It's all a learning experience but at least I'm trying to learn, adapt, survive, and thrive in a changing world of journalism.

I don't know Mr. Trudeau and he's obviously a very successful man. I would like to know if he's ever received an idea for one of his cartoons from someone else that he's used in a comic strip. If he did, that sure would be unprofessional, wouldn't it?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Political Connections this weekend

Check out Political Connections this weekend on News 14 Carolina. 6pm tonight and 11am Sunday morning.

This week we welcome Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton into the studio. He talks about what he thinks his role is as Lt. Gov. and if he thinks the position should have more power.

We also talk about his "pet" projects for the rest of his term. I also ask him about the Senate budget and his thoughts on the "closed door" process many are accusing Senate leaders of holding. Dalton used to be one of the chief budget writers.

Later in the show we talk with Barry Fadem who heads up the nationwide group, National Popular Vote. Lawmakers recently filed a bill here in North Carolina related to the issue. Should popular vote replace electoral college?

Check it out this weekend and thanks as always for watching!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sex ed changes coming?

With the economy hurting, it's not getting a huge amount of attention but changes to sex ed in schools could be on the way.

The legislation, known as the Healthy Choice Act, making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly centers around choice. It allows parents to pick the existing program that focuses on abstinence only, one that includes contraception, or no sex education at all. North Carolina currently stresses abstinence.

Critics of the plan say the changes would devalue marriage. Supporters say too many kids are already having sex and need accurate information to protect themselves.

23 states require abstinence be stressed in the sex ed program. 14 states require programs to cover contraception as well. Virginia and South Carolina cover contraception while Tennessee does not. Check out a more detailed report here including HIV education information.

A 2004 report criticized the abstinence only programs nationwide for teaching a "fear based" curriculum that simply doesn't work.

However supporters of abstinence only programs strongly believe the opposite. They believe it helps teach teens how to have healthy and safe relationships. Here's a good op-ed from that view if you're interested.

The House tentatively passed the three track sex ed program on Wednesday by a 64-53 margin. A final vote is likely on Thursday. It then heads to the Senate.

What do you think about it? Comment below or email me at

Friday, April 10, 2009

BCBS vs. SEANC 2ngt!!

Hey everyone!

Don't miss a great chance to dig deep into the controversy surrounding the state health plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield's COO Brad Wilson and State Employee Association Executive Director Dana Cope join me in studio.

It's a very complicated issue and I think it's a great opportunity to understand it. There's little the two men agree on but you definitely know how they feel by the time the show ends!

It's at 6pm tonight and Sunday 11am on Political Connections only on News 14 Carolina.

Have a great holiday weekend and watch out for potential storms tonight and into the morning.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tar Heel trophy!!

We had the pleasure of having the 2009 NCAA men's basketball championship trophy in our studio today. Of course, it's now a possession of UNC after the Tar Heel victory Monday night.

If you're wondering why it doesn't look like the one you saw on Monday night that's because it's not the same trophy. The one players were holding is the NCAA trophy. This trophy you see here is the one for finishing #1 in the polls essentially. The 2005 trophy sits in Roy Williams office. It's made of Waterford crystal and will end up somewhere in the Dean Dome. Charlie Green from the National Association of Basketball Coaches is touring with the trophy this weekend. In fact you can get your picture taken with it this weekend at a couple different Verizon stores. Check out our website for specific details.

It was pretty cool to see and get my picture taken since I'm a huge college basketball fan too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yes, I wear pants

So, last night a group of Boy Scouts and their parents came through our newsroom for a tour. The kids were literally suprised I was wearing pants. Now, before you get lost in your mind with jokes and silly scenarios, they were talking about a funny longstanding joke about TV news anchors.

Throughout the years the big joke was that anchors wore a shirt, tie, and coat but had shorts and flip flops instead of pants. The truth is I have worn that outfit in the past. It is comfortable when it's hot out. However, newsrooms are much more open to the public and have a much more business-like atmosphere in recent years.

Our station management likes to open our newsrooms up for tours and we do interviews all the time in studio. That means we have a dress policy that requires business attire except on Fridays when jeans are allowed.

So, if you were ever wondering (kinda strange to think about! ha ha)...I do wear a full suit and I'm not wearing some pair of funny shorts while anchoring the news.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Watch PC tonight!

Political Connections tonight at 6pm and Sunday morning at 11am on News 14 Carolina.

This week we taped the entire show from the White House Forum on Health Care Reform at NC A&T State in Greensboro.

I chat with Nancy-Ann DeParle, who is Director for the White House Office of Health Reform. I also talk with Dr. Bill Roper who is the dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

Check it out and let me know what you think!