Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Rambling

This past week has been a busy one, and it doesn't look to let up until next weekend (maybe).
I changed shifts at work to steady overnight shifts instead of two nights and two evenings, which after a year were wearing me out. The results after one week seem to be promising.

It's not the shift itself that is challenging, but the daytime obligations that coincide with work days, and require 4-hour naps or staying up after work to accomplish.

Most of this relates to health care related issues. My wife had her quarterly round of CT and MRI scans this week, with follow-up doctor visits and blood work. A good book or a few newspapers is proper preparedness for this, as some of the waiting is lengthy. I also keep a running journal and documentation of scan reports, changes in medications, additional diagnoses, etc., that I review before appointments so that I'm asking the right questions and know what is going on.

This week I'll be updating the Yahoo group that I created to keep friends and family apprised of Jan's progress through treatment and other things, along with accompanying her to at least three additional appointments during the daylight hours. Sleeping periods will be inconsistent, transient, and much welcome. If I get a few spare minutes I'll post something I've been working on that is timely.

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Row over Rowland the Reporter

It's interesting to observe the mini-tempest stirred up by KKCO hiring Janet Rowland to do political reporting. I'll leave most of the expert analysis to, well, the experts, such as Ralph D'Andrea in Friday's Junction Daily Blog. I wrote in a Daily Sentinel comment that the competing stations in town might do good to consider Ralph as a more ethically correct political commentator for their station. Ralph himself suggested Dr. John Redifer of Mesa State, which got me thinking about someone from academia whose class I was fortunate to be able to attend.

The late Dr. Ted Windt of the University of Pittsburgh was a recognized expert on political rhetoric, particularly involving the Presidency. Aside from teaching a very informative and entertaining class on Presidential Rhetoric, he worked for several Pittsburgh and national media outlets as a political and election analyst before dying of cancer in 2003. He was from Texas, and had that Texas-style attitude toward things when giving lectures or delivering commentary and/or analysis to Pittsburgh TV news.

With politics, however, is it really possible to separate commentary from analysis? Ted Windt had opinions, and he expressed them, and they likely shaded his analysis of political issues. Janet Rowland will no doubt do the same thing when looking at statewide issues here.

The big difference is that Janet will have a direct interest in those issues to potentially further herself politically, versus someone who has no stake in the issues other than his or her own personal beliefs as to what is best for this region and the state as a whole.

That's what it's boiling down to, and it's really impossible to ignore. Both Janet and KKCO seem to be trying to, however. No new postings, comments, or explanations about the issue on either of their websites. Maybe they're just waiting for the inevitable print editorials, letters to the editor, Haiku, and You Said Its before deciding on the next step.

My main concern about this really focuses around the TV station. Something that happened on Thursday kind of validated what Professor McDevitt from CU said in the Sentinel article about the financial end of this decision. KKCO spent a good couple of minutes during the 5:30 newscast talking about the light show over the state from the Russian rocket re-entering the atmosphere, but didn't air a single video clip of it. Butch McCain even followed up during the weather segment, going so far as to ask viewers to send in video they had shot.

The reason? KKCO pre-tapes their morning news the night before, so no one was at the station to shoot any video of the event. At least two Denver stations had video of the re-entry from their news helicopters, but would likely not give KKCO permission to use the video. The Sentinel had a still picture posted on their site, which was more than KKCO had on the air or anywhere else. I e-mailed Jean Reynolds about it, and she confirmed that they didn't have any video but still wanted to talk about the event, probably because of the number of phone calls it generated. That's all well and good, but in a visual medium a story like that lives and dies
by what you're able to show the viewing audience.

I was talking with a friend who used to be involved in local broadcast media. She provided some good insight on the nature of local media operations, and why so much is done on the cheap. Anyway, there are a few obvious reasons (other than money) why KKCO hired Janet Rowland:

She is knowledgeable about the subject matter - County Commissioner, Candidate for Lt. Governor, well connected locally. It's too bad that we must also include the well-earned title of Misguided Maven of Morality (see Bass Lake and Gay Marriage and Sheep debacles).

She is knowledgeable about television - Played a large role in the start-up and operation of Channel 12 before gaining elective office. Since then, she touts as an accomplishment the broadcast of Commissioners' meetings on Channel 12 as an example of transparency in government, even though these broadcasts aren't closed captioned, as required by the ADA to provide hearing-impaired citizens accessibility to the services of government. This has been a long-time concern of myself and others, and it doesn't appear any closer to resolution. How about it, Janet?

She is photogenic, personable, and attractive - A compromise between many of the curmudgeons of the media political scene such as Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs, and well, Ann Coulter. Janet will have to become a little more worldly to gain credibility on the large stage that broadcast television provides, though. No more pronouncements about what is obscene from the County Commissioner pulpit, if you please.

I believe that Janet will competently handle this assignment. Unfortunately, I don't believe that she belongs there. Colorado Media Matters also stepped into this yesterday, and between them, Ralph D'Andrea, and the tone of the Sentinel article, there are too many questions from an ethical and practical standpoint to permit Janet to project at least the veneer of objectivity that we expect from journalists, regardless of the medium.

It was also refreshing to see the Sentinel take on a fellow local media outlet in so direct a fashion. Other local journalists, up until recently, appeared sacrosanct to the Sentinel's pages. The little dust-up over Jonathan Vigliotti was kind of an ice-breaker in this area. Maybe now is the time to have someone on the Sentinel's staff who is responsible for covering our little but tumultuous media market.

My friend also mentioned that the Sentinel actually used to have a Radio and TV columnist, akin to Joanne Ostrow at the Post, a long time ago, or at least before I moved here. Some guy named Reford Theobold. I wonder if he did that before or during his tenure on Grand Junction City Council.

The world will inevitably keep turning tomorrow, and us along with it. Godspeed to everyone to do the right thing.