Station Break: The News That TV News Won't Cover

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Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 26, 2009; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi was online Tuesday, May 26, at 1 p.m. ET to talk about the latest news in the pop culture world of TV, radio, movies and trends.

Today: Falling revenue, layoffs, panicked management. Newspapers? Well, yes, but local TV news stations may be in even more trouble. Last week, three Washington-area stations announced an unusual partnership. Could the news get any worse for the local news?

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Paul Farhi: Last week we saw one more tiny pixel in the big picture that is local TV news these days. Three Washington stations--channels 4, 5 and 9--announced that after decades of rivalry, they planned to partially join rather than fight.

The stations are starting something called Local News Service (clever, in a kind of Soviet-style way) to "pool" footage of ribbon cuttings, press conferences and other routine daily news events. This isn't exactly a crime against journalistic independence (okay, maybe it's a misdemeanor), but it does say a ton about the financial health of the stations, and local newscasts generally.

In some respects, the problems of local stations (here and everywhere) are worse than those facing newspapers. Audiences have abandoned the local news at a faster rate than they've dropped their newspaper subscription in recent years. Revenues are dropping precipitously, though not quite as fast as newspapers (primarily because TV stations never had classified ads to lose like we print guys).

Right here in river city, we've seen the slow drip, drip, drip of distress for the past two years. Every station has cut back in some way, and most have in several ways. Channel 4 dumped some of its bigger names (George Michael, Arch Campbell, Susan Kidd, I.J. Hudson, etc.) to save money in 2007. Channel 9 is turning everyone into its newsroom into do-all "digital journalists." Channels 7 and 8 (both owned by the same company, Allbritton Communications) and Channel 5 (owned by Fox) have had layoffs. The story is similar elsewhere.

Incidentally, the reason you probably know more about what ails newspaper than what ails TV stations is because TV news rarely tells you anything itself (or useful about TV in general). As it happens, TV networks and stations would rather tell you about the troubles of newspapers than about the very same problems of the TV business, as a recent study of newspaper and TV news content made clear. Odd, isn't it? I won't be so rude as to use words like "shameless" or "cover-up" to describe this situation, but you go right ahead if you'd like.

Where's this heading? Nowhere good, I'd say. A few marginal stations around the country have already abandoned local news, and more will. The creation of the Local News Service presupposes another possibility: the "simulcasting" of the same news by two former rivals. Someday, in other words, four competing broadcasts may become three, or two, or even one.

Not sure Paddy Chayefsky envisioned that prospect when he was writing "Network" way back when.

Anyway, let's go to the phones...

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washingtonpost.com: The Story Out of 3 Area TV Stations: They'll Create News-Sharing Service (Post, May 22)

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Falls Church: I am a talk radio fan. Washington used to be a great talk radio station town. I like hosts that don't froth at the mouth and "yell" at me on the air. I used to listen to Jim Bohannon in the evening but....ever since the changes at the top of the AM dial last year....I can't figure who carries shows and/or where they are. WMAL has Curtis Sliwa (please forgive me but that guy needs to get a day job), C-SPAN is okay but it's hard to pull in at night, NPR has the Canadian show that's okay but it is about Canada. Who knows what's up with AM 570....Dennis Miller shows on the schedule but many nights it seems someone forgot to turn on the show before they went home for the night. Anyone have any clues about the stations and shows at the top of the dial?

Paul Farhi: WAMU has the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm and the local Kojo Nnamdi show, plus "Talk of the Nation" in the afternoon. There's "Democracy Now!" on WPFW-FM. And there's Rush and Hannity and Mark Levin and Andy and Grandy on WMAL, of course. Plus sports talk on WTEM-AM. To name a few. Not sure what you're looking for exactly, but there's a pretty good menu out there...

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washingtonpost.com: Print covers its own woes, TV does not (Annenberg School for Communications, May 7)

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Why Jersey?: What is the deal with jug handles and no left turns?

Paul Farhi: Can't explain it. I'm a freeway cloverleaf-and-right-turn-on-red man myself, being from California n' all.

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Indianapolis: Is Duffy Dyer from WTTG the former baseball player? Or can there be two Duffy Dyers in the world?

Paul Farhi: There was a ballplayer named Duffy Dyer? This is news to me. But next time I talk to him (the station guy), I'll ask..

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Simulcasting: "The creation of the Local News Service presupposes another possibility: the "simulcasting" of the same news by two former rivals."

This happened down in Jacksonville several years ago. The NBC and ABC affiliates merged their news into one First Coast News broadcast that is simulcast on both channels.

Paul Farhi: Yep. Usually this is done by stations owned by the same company. But when rival stations do it, you know things are bad. I think you'll be seeing more of it, and soon.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: So, Paul, do you think we'll see further local news cutbacks -- WRC pushing Jim Vance to retire, etc?

Paul Farhi: I don't think WRC can afford to lose Jim Vance. He and Doreen Gentzler have kept that station atop the ratings despite the absolute meltdown of NBC's primetime schedule (and forthcoming further meltdown with Jay Leno at 10 pm). The only questions are: How much longer does Jim want to work (he's in his late 60s, I believe), and how much is NBC/WRC willing to pay him. Incidentally, WRC recently re-signed Doreen G., and gave her the entire summer off as part of her deal (see link below)...

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washingtonpost.com: WRC's Gentzler Will Take a Leave of Absence (Post, May 23)

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Silver Spring, Md.: Just wondering: Do newspapers seem to cover their own woes more so that people will feel sorry for them and subscribe? Kind of like a self-made "Save the Newspapers" campaign?

Paul Farhi: Never thought of it that way, but maybe it DOES have that effect. I've always thought we covered ourselves for two reasons: 1) Our readers might care about our financial condition; and 2) we are fascinated by ourselves.

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Tina, follow up: I have Diane, Kojo and the others covered. It's more the after 9 p.m. time frame I seek. With all the shuffling done on the upper AM dial I'm confused. I used to have several selections of reasonable talk shows above about the 1200 spot....and now I don't have a clue. Thanks

Paul Farhi: May I recommend "Loveline" on WJFK-FM at 10 p.m.? A rather frank but useful and often very amusing discussion of all things sexual and relational...

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Does D.C. have this problem with TV/radio reporters?: Out here in the boondocks, we have two TV network affiliates whose local news-anchor stables each include a reader with a very froggy voice (perpetually sounding as though they need to clear their throats), while our third has a weathercaster who speaks Baba-Wawa style ("bweezy and chiwwy"). Plus, one station has a male reporter whose voice pitch is as high as Ross-the-Intern's (i.e., counter-tenor).

My question: Why shouldn't speaking in a mellifluous voice without a speech impediment reasonably be considered a bona fide job qualification for a radio or TV news speaker? Or is it just that smaller media markets can't be choosy?

Paul Farhi: Smaller markets pay substantially less than the big-city stations, so they get the rawer, rougher "talent." They're like the farm teams to the big-market stations. The interesting thing about the TV news business is how "female" it's becoming, year by year. Far more women are going into the biz than men in all parts of the TV newsroom, from anchors to editors. The triumph of Mary Richards, I guess...

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Duffy Dyer: Played 1968-81 for the Mets, Pirates, Expos and Tigers. Hit a home run his first time up in the majors.

Paul Farhi: Hmmm. You think he went to work for Rupert Murdoch and Fox5? Entirely possible, I guess. Will check it.

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Falls Church, Va.: How is the Local News Service different from the AP?

Paul Farhi: I imagine it will cover more "local" stuff that AP's TV operation doesn't get to--Mayor Fenty, a local fire, a traffic tie-up. That sort of thing...

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Waldorf, Md.: I wish the recession would hit the local news channels even harder, and find a way to get rid of Pat Collins (who is just simply the worst), and get some basic grammar lessons for Tracy Wilkins ("I and my cameraman..."). I don't think Barbara Harrison can get an IQ transplant (certainly not a budget-concious one), so I'd be happy to see her go, too.

Paul Farhi: Now don't start on Barbara Harrison again!...I've always liked Pat. Yes, he's overly dramatic at times. But he's also distinctive and a very accurate reporter. Is there anyone else like him on the air? Nope.

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Vienna, Va. : on local TV pooling resources -- really, this is hardly that much different than how the AP works. If anything, the stations should be using resources to do real reporting, not wasting money on things like traffic helicopters (I mean, is there a spot in the D.C. metro area that ISN'T covered by a traffic camera already?).

Paul Farhi: The bigger issue for the station choppers is all the no-fly territory over D.C. The newsworthy stuff you'd love to get overhead shots of--fireworks on the Mall, protests on the Mall and surrounding area, the inauguration, etc.--are all off limits to commercial aircraft. As is, they get a lot of leftover stuff...

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Here in the Steel City our Fox station's 10 p.m. news hour is done by our NBC affiliate (which then has its own 35-minute broadcast at 11) -- while our CW station's 10 p.m. hour, consisting of 30 minutes or news followed by a 30-minute phone-in sports talk show, is handled by our CBS affiliate. The only upside is that we can watch the local TV news, then go to bed an hour earlier.

Paul Farhi: I wish I could say that this kind of consolidation is a real loss to news viewers, but in a lot of cities the local news is so similar--murder, fire, car wreck, etc.--that there's not a lot lost. What IS lost is the enterprise story--the "special report" or feature that one station, and only one station, has.

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20165: Where will Tony K end up on the radio dial?

Paul Farhi: No clues yet, and don't hold me to it, but I'd bet he goes to XM Sirius before he goes to a local station. A big question, as we discussed last time, is who's got any money for him? He's still a very valuable local personality, but the radio market has dropped considerably since he was around last time.

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WAMU has the nationally syndicated Diane Rehm and the local Kojo Nnamdi show, plus "Talk of the Nation" in the afternoon. : One of the few things I miss about living in D.C.: interesting, intelligent, nonpartisan, nonhating, nonscreaming talk radio. Here in Richmond all we get is The Screaming Haters (Limbaugh, Beck, etc.)

Paul Farhi: Yes, and this puts the lie to NPR/public radio's supposed liberal bias. When will you hear a liberal on Beck, Hannity, Levin, Limbaugh, etc. who gets to speak without being villified, or gets to speak at all? On NPR/pubradio, you hear right, left and center without the shrieking.

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Greater Green Bay Wi: If a TV news operation can't make a go of it in a city that is (a) politically active, (b) has a former crack-smoking mayor who continues to say amazing things in public, (c) has continuing fights over just who runs the place and (d) has a large array of sports teams, a zoo for animal features and connections to network bureaus, maybe it doesn't deserve to exist.

Paul Farhi: Well said, GGB! And may I add e) Has the most well-educated, news-hungry populace in the country.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: A different tack -- when did Friday become such a wasteland for TV? It used to be Must-See-TV on ABC (heck, even NBC's Homicide hung on by its fingertips for more seasons than we could ever have hoped). What happened? With Leno's gig, is there the chance that Fridays on NBC will be a better bet for "Southland"? Or are people REALLY looking forward to dancing on Silverman's (career) grave?

Paul Farhi: Friday became the new Saturday in this decade (and maybe before) when the networks found during the '90s that Thursday was the most lucrative day of the TV week (because of movie ads), and because young viewers were out on dates (probably at the movies that were advertised on TV the night before), and weren't watching TV on Fridays. It may have been must-see for ABC, but that was a long time ago. More recently (and not all that recently at that) it was family-viewing night (with sitcoms like "Hanging with Mr. Cooper" and such). Now, it isn't even that. Now, it's dump-the-marginal-series night.

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Arlington, Va.: How long before the new 94.7 changes format again? The so- called "fresh" music format sucks. More reason to have an iPod and FM transmitter to play it through my radio.

Paul Farhi: I liked the "theory" of 94.7's format change--to take a shot at the large audience of women who listen to top-rated WASH-FM and Mix107.3, and to capture the weekday office-listening crowd--but I still think it needs work (and some deejays) to compete.

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TV Week: My husband and I have subscribed to the Washington Post for over 20 years. I now read it online. He prefers it in print. There was a notice that if I didn't "opt-in" to received the print version of TV Week, we would no longer receive it. However, since we're not getting a reduced price for the paper, I "opted-in." Why pay for something I don't get. Will the Post allow us to pick and choose other sections and therefore pay less? By the way, I think print subscribers should get the online version free and all others should pay. Just my 2 cents.

Paul Farhi: The TV Week "opt-in" thing IS a little weird, and it does raise the very question you're asking. I can answer that question: No, other sections won't be "opt-in" optional. And I would agree with you on the print-subscribers-should-get-online-version free idea. This has been tried at other papers around the country, with limited success. And these days, we would be very happy with "limited success."

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Second Sports Talk Station?: Paul, can you give me a quick rundown on the whole "second sports station" rumor that's been floating. I always assumed they were talking about WJFK (which would make me a Sad Panda, as that's the only Non-XM station I listen to)...but then I thought all of that JFK stuff was put to rest? Yet the rumours persist?

What's the deal?

Paul Farhi: Nothing official, but I think WJFK/CBS is moving in that direction. If they do so--and frankly, I can't imagine why they would want to do so, given how small the sports-talk audience is around here--look for a summer (possibly mid-July) start....

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Washington, DC: I enjoyed your column about watching the TV on the Internet. But I can understand not wanting to watch TV on your laptop. I like watching on the bigger screen, and it's a communal experience with my husband, sitting on the couch together with our feet propped up.

What I cannot understand is why people don't have DVRs. I love being able to pause during live play, or watch the program at some other time. I watch one show that I don't even know what day and time it's on live. I found it by doing a title search and set it up to tape, and watch the recordings if I have time over the weekend. I've never seen it live.

My in-laws don't own a DVR and it seems like every time we call them we're interrupting one of their favorite TV shows. We have a hurried chat so they can get back to the show. They've told me on many occasions they never watch TV. If I ask them "did you see X on TV," they answer, "Oh, no, we don't really watch TV, you know." But when we call them they are always watching some show and it's like a disaster that we interrupted. So why won't people whose lives revolve around TV, why won't they get a DVR? I don't know if being able to pause TV is just beyond the scope of what they can get their minds around technology-wise (is it magic!?), or if getting a DVR will force them to admit they DO watch TV when they are so proud that they "don't watch TV."

Paul Farhi: I wonder if your in-laws are giving you a passive-aggressive brush-off with their whole "you're interrupting our show" excuse when you call. But since I am not Carolyn Hax, I will avoid giving you any advice...As for me, I don't have a DVR, mainly because I refuse to pay my local cable company one more dollar than the many dollars I already pay them. I do, however, have On Demand, which is DVR-like, and allows me to watch just about anything worth watching that I've missed.

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Good Riddance: Local news programs are so tabloidish and over sensationalize everything. Most people are tired of hearing depressing and unedifying news. I know, I know, ratings and 'if it bleeds, it leads'. But I don't watch local news for the very reasons stated above. I won't miss them if they go away.

Paul Farhi: Like all broadcast television, local news has always aimed for the broadest possible audience, sometimes known as the lowest common denominator. It's not high-brow, and never was. It's not supposed to be.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I have tried many times to listen to Diane Rehm but her voice is just terrible. Is there something wrong with her or is she old?

Paul Farhi: Yes, she has a vocal-chord condition that she treats with periodic injections of Botox (or something like Botox). Whatever you think of her voice, she's an icon, an institution, and hosts a great show.

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Re: Local News: Why don't the local news stations just create a really great fact filled half hour of local news. Not a national news lite, with a few accidents, fires and sex scandals thrown in. The local news isn't even local. Maybe then we wouldn't just super fast forward to the weather and delete.

Paul Farhi: I think THEY think they already do create really great fact filled half, and full hours of news, weather and sports. What are they missing?

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Houston Chronicle Carrier: Opt in for the TV Guide? Meaning I have to remember who gets the TV guide on Sunday -- Right now I deliver the Chronicle, the NY Times, USA Today, Barrons, Financial Times and International Business Daily, to over 400 subcribers -- 120 of whom get the paper on Sunday only -- oops, no, The Chronicle now wants them to get the paper on Thursday, Friday and Sunday!

I'm glad I have a college degree, so I can remember all this stuff. Please remind your bosses that stuff does, in fact roll downhill, and it stops with the carriers!

Paul Farhi: I have a soft spot in my heart for all newspaper carriers. Carry on, Houston!

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Friday is the new Saturday?: Nah, Saturday is still home to Rerun Theatre. Part of why the TGIF strategy worked is precisely because those delectable 18-to-34-year-olds are out on dates on Fridays. But now it's all about the demos.

Paul Farhi: Yes. It's been all about the demos starting in 1987, when Nielsen introduced electronic meters to provide continuous demographic info on audiences. That, and cable, had the most profound effect on network programming. The next, and even bigger, shoe to drop is the internet...

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What is wrong with pooling footage?: The cable channels all do this. They aren't pooling their own take on it. They're just sending one crew with a camera to tape events they all want to cover, instead of each sending their own. It all works out to be the same footage.

Paul Farhi: On a handful of stories, yes, but not many. The President's speeches, for example, come from a pool feed. And sports clips are supplied by a single licensed broadcaster/cable company. But almost everything else is open to everyone.

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Re: Local News Follow-up: Follow up: The problem is that they include way too much national news. I'm going to watch (or get) the national news from many other sources, so don't waste my time on that. Get me the local stories that I can't find elsewhere (sometimes not even in the Post), the weather and sports. NO health stories (unless it is a local story), no weather stories (unless it's local), etc. Also, only offer it for one half hour each evening. Not from 4-7. Repeat it if you must, but don't tease us that some story is coming up in the news at 6:00 when it's only 4:00.

Paul Farhi: Well, the dilemma here is the same one faced by newspapers. Do you give readers/viewers the important news, even though that important news is available via many, many other sources? Or do you try to create a newspaper/newscast that is comprised entirely of new and original and exclusive information? Or do you seek some combination of the above? I'm not sure there's a definite answer.

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re: As for me, I don't have a DVR: Paul, you're really missing out on the joy of rewinding the same 30- second portion of a football game over and over and over so you and your spouse can argue over whether or not the receiver's toe was in or out.

Paul Farhi: I gotta admit, that's a cool feature. But I can't really see rewinding and replaying a sitcom over and over so I can watch that hilarious spit take again.

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re: I mean, is there a spot in the D.C. metro area that ISN'T covered by a traffic camera already?: Also, the traffic coverage is usually the same. Traffic is bad... everywhere. I have never heard a traffic report that was able to save me from going into congestion.

Paul Farhi: I know! I find that even the most "real-time" traffic reports are out of date within minutes, even seconds. How many times have you been driving and heard a report about a traffic snarl somewhere, only to breeze by that very spot a minute or two later? Happens a lot to me. So often, in fact, that I'm kind of skeptical about traffic reporting.

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Catonsville, Md.: The best thing on radio -- any radio -- is Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" which this past weekend was broadcast from Wolf Trap. I also like WAMU's broadcast on Sunday nights of old radio dramas from the 40s and 50s. So good that at times they sound like parodies but are actually the real thing!

Paul Farhi: I feel like an old fogey saying this, but I like both those shows, too.

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Fairfax, Va.: Unfortunately, the Local News Service (LNS) will likely result in even less traditional quality reporting. I see this scenario: the LNS gets a non-stop feed of press releases from all organizations in the DC area, the videographers go out and take B-roll, and the on-air talent simply reads an excerpt of the press release while 15 seconds of B-roll are displayed. There won't be any reporting or investigative initiative; just more press releases serving as news. Your thoughts?

Paul Farhi: And this is different from what's done now how? Fact is, a lot of news is predictable and "staged"--hearings, press conferences, announcements of one kind or another. Theoretically, the LNS can cover the scheduled "daybook" stuff, freeing up reporters to go out and find unstaged, unscheduled news. Theoretically. I think you could run into problems with time--you get all this easy footage from the pool crowding out whatever the reporters are drumming up on their own.

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Radio DVR: Is there such a thing as radio DVR? I'd like to record some shows to listen to when I'm driving.

Paul Farhi: I dunno. Does anyone?

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DVR: I can't stress enough that you're missing out on the next generation fo TV Watching here by eschewing a DVR. If you don't want to give your cable company any more money, you can always get a TiVo brand DVR.

Pausing live TV is great, rewinding I hardly ever use at all, but (assuming you get a dual-tuner DVR) the greatest thing is being able to Watch shows that are on opposite each other. Since the networks are all trying to cram the best shows against each other now, You can record two shows that are on at the same time - or, watch one while recording another.

It'll change your life.

Paul Farhi: As I said, I can do this now with On Demand. And I don't have to pay extra for OD.

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PR person: As someone who deals with media every day, it scares me how few "gatekeepers" there are. I work for a non-profit and when talking to local TV you used to have more opportunities to convince someone of the importance of the story and now, one or two local people can decide over and over again that your organization/issue isn't worth it. It scares me to think about what that means for the public knowledge of what's happening.

Paul Farhi: Interesting. I wonder if this is less a "shrinking gatekeeper" problem than a "shrinking news agenda" problem. In other words, it's not that the people have changed so much as the news media's priorities.

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Re: Local News: Another Followup: Well I like to read the Gazette in addition to the Post because it is truly local. I know that sometimes some of the articles appear in both the Post and the Gazette, but I think they complement each other. So I think devoting 1/2 hour a day to truly local issues would be interesting and might have a general appeal.

Paul Farhi: Apparently, you haven't been watching Newschannel 8. All local, all the time (or a lot of the time, at least).

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Herndon, Va.: I still remember that wonderful long-ago time when you had a choice -- a choice, mind you -- of Glenn Brenner or George Michael for sports (who was on Channel 7 then? Who cares?). This was just before/as ESPN completely changed the landscape for sports reporting.

Paul Farhi: Yeah, local stations everywhere have been shrinking the amount of time devoted to sports. It's truly the ESPN effect. The research says that hardcore sports fans aren't getting their daily highlights from the local station. Sports is THE least popular part of the daily local newscast.

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Germantown, Md.: Yes, there is DVR for the radio, satellite radio that is. There are some high end radios that will record programs or your favorite songs at your request. Sirius offers the Stelleto.

For those old-time radio people, Sirius/XM has a whole channel devoted to radio programs of the 30's through 50's commercials and all!

Paul Farhi: Thanks, G'town!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Paul: Not really a question for you, but thought you might like to know that the flashy Toyota ad on your chat page is absolutely killing my bandwidth. Maybe it's just me, but it's kind of a chat killer....

Paul Farhi: Sorry for that, but those of us left in the news media are amazed and gratified that there are still car companies that want to buy ads.

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Washington, D.C.: Doreen Gentzler has the entire summer off? Paid? That can't be going over too well at WRC. How would you like to find out your job's been eliminated to fund her summer vacation?

Paul Farhi: Interesting way to look at it. But I wouldn't. Everyone at the station, or the newspaper or factory or wherever, is presumably paid what management perceives them to be worth. Management sometimes blows it, of course. But that's not the worker's fault, that's the bosses. Besides, you could just as easily blame ANY aspect of a business for a job loss--the electricity bill, the lack of advertising, the cost of paper, etc.

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Radio DVR: Yes -- on your PC. ReplayAV can recording Internet broadcasts at a given time, and convert to MP3 or burn to an audio CD. Cheap, too. www.applian.com.

Paul Farhi: Thanks for that, too. News we can use!

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Sports is THE least popular part of the daily local newscast: ...hence Lunchtime with Lindsey on NBC4...

Paul Farhi: Yep. Lindsay Czarniak is a star in the making, and WRC is trying to get the most out of her. Very "soft focus" stuff here. But makes sense, in the larger scheme of things.

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Radio DVR: Podcasts -- they are great for long drives or if you like to listen music/news at work but get tired of the same radio stations playing the same stuff over and over. There are like a million on iTunes store -- but you can also find them on individual broadcasting Web sites. And they have them for any interest you might have: sports entertainment, new music, news- really anything.

Paul Farhi: Right. Podcasts. Of course!

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Greedy ads: I block ads specifically because they slow down loading of the page. (That, and the ones that use the "mouseover" event to take you to the ad's site -- it's hard to avoid moving your mouse over an ad that's taking up the whole right side of the screen.) If Web sites want us to stop blocking the ads, they need to limit ads to ones that don't interfere with reading content.

Paul Farhi: Well, you have to remember that an ad that is "intrusive" is considered a good thing in the ad biz. The internet is still figuring this stuff out, but those kinds of ads may (if we're not careful) become the industry standard in time.

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Ugly looking/sounding newspeople: I don't want ugly-looking/sounding coming over my TV set into my house doing the news, nor do I want to hear ugly-sounding ones on radio. That's what we have print and Internet journalism for!

Paul Farhi: I, personally, have a face made for print...But, of course, this has been the visual tyranny of movies and TV. Homely people (especially women) just don't make it in those businesses, no matter how talented. Every 40 or so years, you get a Susan Boyle, but it's the exception that proves the rule.

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I can do this now with On Demand: for a very limited number of shows. What if the show you like isn't on the short list of OnDemand shows? The LCD (lowest common denominator) stuff is preselected for OnDemand. With DVR, 'I' choose what shows to watch on my schedule, not some bean counter.

Paul Farhi: I haven't checked, but I would bet that the full-menu On Demand (which I have) includes almost every original show (and certainly the most popular) carried on cable and broadcast. Exceptions: No recordings of live sports or news.

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Vacation costs jobs: Doreen's vacation may very well be preserving jobs, if she's taking it in lieu of some increased salary. Consider it "job-sharing with Wendy."

Paul Farhi: Yes, there's that, too.

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Paul Farhi: Well, speaking of job sharing, I'd better go and do my regular job so I don't have to share it with anyone. Thanks for swinging by on a day-after-a-holiday day, folks. I have an idea: Let's do this again next week, same time, same browser coordinates. Have a good week, everyone. And as always...regards to all. --Paul

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