Daily Archives: August 13, 2008

Shedding

Cox Communications announced today that it’s selling newspapers in Colorado, Texas and North Carolina. Among them is the Austin American-Statesman, which has been around in some form since 1871. Cox is keeping the AJC, as well as its other larger newspapers in Dayton and West Palm Beach. It’s no surprise that the tumult within the AJC would reverberate through the Cox empire. As the clouds of doom coalesce, you gotta wonder how long WSB TV and radio will remain largely unscathed.

Amusingly, Cox also announced it will sell Valpak, an obnoxious direct-mail advertising enterprise that needs to disappear asap.

The AJC story makes a point of noting that 80 percent of Cox’s revenue comes from sources outside the troubled radio, TV and newspaper industries. Cox Cable is huge. It also owns something called Manheim, described an an automotive auction house. Apparently, it does ‘way better than its media holdings.

This may be the time to throw this out there: Recently, the AJC dismissed three of its editors. This week, Mostly Media reported that the editors were released after they dopily gathered and retained evidence of a trip to a strip club called the Pink Pony. Memo to journalists with camera-equipped company cell phones: Don’t. Just– don’t.

Wood and China

The game of covering the Olympics for TV is rigged to the gills. If you work for an NBC station, you’re among the anointed, thanks to the gazillions paid by the network for the rights to the games. If you toil for, say, an ABC station– well, good luck. You’re on the outside. It ain’t right, but the game was rigged that way many moons ago.

So when WXIA sends Brenda Wood to Beijing for the Summer Games, it knows she and her photog will have access to venues and access to athletes. And it knows that promoting Wood’s presence may entice its prime-time Olympics viewers to stay in the WXIA tent for the late news and/or drive traffic to the station’s web site. Likewise, it gives WXIA good reason to use its half-hour at 7:30pm— normally a local newscast— as an all-Olympics special leading into NBC’s prime time coverage.

Wood and photog David Brooks have earned their keep. On opening day, they did it by staying away from the Opening Ceremonies, oddly enough. They found a venue full of ordinary Chinese, who stood agog in front of massive TVs and watched the spectacle. The piece Wood and Brooks produced was moving, funny and well-done.

Even better was a piece previewing the Opening Ceremonies. Wood took an idea and ran with it: Examine the number eight, a lucky number in China. It seems the Olympic organizers opted out of a cooler-weather start later in August or September, and deliberately chose to start the games on 8.08.08. Wood’s piece, again, was funny and enlightening. She also showed a nice touch in a rapidly-disappearing subgenre of feature reporting.

Feature reporting often focuses on personalities, or events, or visual oddities, or how-to. Wood took an idea fragment– a story about the number eight– and developed it into a fun-to-watch TV story. It calls for cleverness on the part of the reporter and photographer. It demands writing that makes the point without beating it to death. It’s an approach that can easily embarrass a reporter lacking a deft touch. Wood and Brooks pulled it off nicely.

And give the suits at WXIA credit for spending some coin hiring a translator for Wood and Brooks.

Wood is also doing a lot of sports reporting. She’s interviewing local athletes after they’ve won medals. There’s been a bunch. Wood’s an engaging presence in what are essentially “how do you feel” situations.

It’s worth noting that Brooks and Wood are blogging extensively about their experiences at 11alive.com. If you’re an Olympics nerd– or a Sinophile– they’re worth checking out.