Rumors about morning television

One thing that has changed dramatically in the past ten years is how fast not only news travels, but rumors. Rumors usually do take on a life of their own, especially when it has to do with whether someone is leaving a station or network or newspaper or got fired.

Willie Geist (via Wikimedia Commons) and Natalie Morales (via US Navy)

Willie Geist (via Wikimedia Commons) and Natalie Morales (via U.S. Navy)

This week was no different when a rumor started circulating that Natalie Morales and Willie Geist were fired from NBC’s “Today” show. It apparently started when Us Weekly published a story saying the duo were let go by the network. NBC News president Deborah Turness spoke out quickly denying any truth to the report.

“In response to the false rumors that have been circulated about our anchor team, NBC wants to be absolutely clear: The rumors are wrong — period. This is the team we are committed to. And this is the team that our viewers turn to in the morning.”  –Deborah Turness to CNN Money

Now, there may be moves in the near future as Turness did fire “Today”‘s general manager Jamie Horowitz. But for now, Turness says everyone on deck has been accounted for and no one is being tossed overboard.

Mislabeling someone can cause problems

There’s been a lot going on in northern Maine recently. A whole gaggle of media has been stationed closer to Canada than Portland, Maine, as it watches every move of one particular woman. “The Ebola Nurse.”

But wait, she doesn’t have Ebola. That’s right, Kaci Hickox, the nurse who returned to the United States after working with Ebola patients in West Africa, does not have the disease. And she wants you to know it.

I never had Ebola. I never had symptoms of Ebola. I tested negative for Ebola the first night I stayed in New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s private prison in Newark. I am now past the incubation period – meaning that I will not develop symptoms of Ebola.

never had Ebola, so please stop calling me “the Ebola Nurse” – now!

Hickox wrote an op-ed for The Guardian pleading with the general public – but perhaps more so, the media – to stop calling her “the Ebola Nurse.”

It’s a valid request. If someone asked you, “Who is Kaci Hickox?” you may not know her name. But if someone asked you, “Have you heard about the nurse in Maine who has Ebola?” chances are you know the story and have an opinion. But, again, she doesn’t have Ebola.

When you’re writing a headline, recording a stand up, or interviewing a neighbor remember to use proper terminology so as to not perpetuate rumors and misinformation. It may be easy to boil it down to one or two words, or a short phrase, but for the sake of accuracy, don’t.

“Hidden Gem” – Temptations

temptations 1Every time I walk into Temptations Café, I am tempted to try something new. Whether it be a falafel wrap or chicken panini or maybe a special, there is always something that sounds good. And to this point, I have not been let down.

When our master’s class decided to map our hidden gems, I knew nearly immediately that mine would be Temptations at 313 Huntington Avenue. It’s not often I go out for lunch, but there are very few places I go to when I do, and Temptations is at the top.

temptations 2The waiting area is not large, nor is the seating area, so I generally get mine to go, but the few times I have stayed to eat in the restaurant, it’s been enjoyable. There’s a lot going on, many faces to watch and foods to think about getting next time.

On a recent trip in I spoke with Lutfi “Lou” Lutfi, a manager in the restaurant. He said that the clientele is mostly students and professionals who work nearby. He mentioned that there are regulars who work at the nearby YMCA, in real estate, and for small businesses, who often come in for lunch. He also said that although the restaurant is open until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, lunch is the busiest time, followed by breakfast, then the evening. (The full hours are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.)

“Most people aren’t thinking ‘sandwiches and coffee’ at 8 o’clock at night,” said Lutfi.

temptations 3Because of the amount of foot traffic, including nearby students at Northeastern University and The Boston Conservatory, Lutfi said they do minimal advertising. They are, however, on Twitter and Facebook, and he said they use those avenues to advertise specials.

In addition to the location on Huntington Avenue, close to the Northeastern MBTA stop, there are Temptations Café locations on Beacon Street in Brookline near the Coolidge Corner T stop and the St. Mary’s T stop.

On this particular time in I ordered a chicken and hummus wrap. Everything is made to order, and you can always ask them to take out or add items. The service is fast, and the transactions done on an iPad. I was once again not let down by the sandwich.

There is a caveat I feel I need to add. I have been to Temptations twice for coffee, once with a group of friends and once with one other individual. Both times my company was disappointed. The pumpkin latte tasted like what you would think a candle tastes like. And the espresso was not made the way it was ordered.

That said, I have been there many other times and always left full and happy.

temptations 5

AP wants the FBI to get its own identity

Remember this? “The FBI goes too far by using Seattle Times dummy page.” Well, in that fake story posted on the fake Seattle Times page, the FBI wrote a story and credited to the Associated Press.

Now the AP is demanding “assurances from the Justice Department that the FBI will never again impersonate a member of the news media.” The president and CEO of the AP, Gary Pruitt, wrote this letter to the Attorney General and FBI, and also included a request to know how the requirements to impersonate a member of the media are different now than seven years ago when the tactic was employed.

No one on the receiving end is saying much, but James Comey, the director of the FBI, had previously defended the actions saying they were legal under the guidelines at that time and are still lawful now, but that they probably require higher-level approvals than they did then.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?

Talking about the “Future of Journalism”

There has been a lot said about the “future of journalism.” What will it look like? Who is part of the conversation? Which outlets will survive?

The changes that this industry has seen in the past 10 years are significant. Much like the invention of the printing press or radio or television, the shift to online news impacts delivery and consumption of news in direct ways. It changes the advertising dollars, which changes the budgets, which causes adjustments in staffing. And that’s just a start.

For my final project in for Fundamentals of Digital Journalism class in which I am currently enrolled, I intend to talk with people who are part of this moving target, as well as some who are watching and analyzing it. I want to answer the question, “What is the future of journalism, and how is digital impacting traditional media?”

Justin Ellis, an editor at The Nieman Lab, writes about and gives lectures this topic often. I have already been in touch with Ellis, and he has agreed to talk with me about this.

Additionally, I spoke briefly with Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift. Ali has never been one to mute his mouth regarding media, and he has recently posted a few articles about his current thoughts on the future of journalism. As someone who has started two niche media companies, paidContent before Skift, Ali has personal experience in how this industry is changing and moving online.

I would like to bring Hilary Sargent of Boston.com into the conversation, as well as Andrea Courtois of WBZ-TV. It would be great if I could also get interviews with Brian Stelter and David Folkenflik, but I’m not going to hold my breath on those.

From now until the day it’s due, I will likely be asking anyone and everyone I know in journalism what their thoughts are, and I will plan to include as many of those thoughts as possible.

TV is changing – but is it going the way of AM radio?

Last week Newsweek published an article by Kevin Maney titled, “Broadcast Television Is About to Go the Way of AM Radio.” It’s interesting because about a year or so ago I had a Twitter conversation with someone in local news who was adamant that I was wrong when I said local news needed to evaluate how it delivered its product considering the increase in digital ads and use. Her final tweet to me was something to the effect of, “It’s amazing how you can knock an industry that so many of us work in.” (For the record, my husband still works in a local news-type newsroom.)

Maney did a wonderful job outlining the history of television and its growth. But I’m not sure I completely agree that it’s going the way of AM radio. He cites how there’s time-shifting for viewing, that people are watching shows and movies on portable devices that have better screens that traditional televisions, and video providers like Netflix and YouTube get more precise data about their users.

All of this is true. However, there are still some strengths that broadcast television has. For instance, live events. Think Super Bowl; think American Idol; think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These are not the type of events that you’re going to record and watch some other time. Networks are not going to offer them on demand. And yes, you could watch them on a mobile device, but you still have to access it through a network or cable provider.

Also, breaking news. Yes, people go to websites for headlines, but they also turn on their televisions to see moving images, hear anchors and reporters on the scene, and feel as though they are part of it. This was part of what I tried to convey in the Twitter conversation so long ago – broadcast news has a place, it just needs to figure out how to draw in the people from the internet.

I don’t ever claim to have the answers, but I’m also not one to say a medium is dead just because another has been introduced. We still have newspapers, we still have radios, and, for the time being, we still have televisions.

When you’re asked to leave, do you go?

There’s a reporter in Milwaukee who’s facing a problem. She’s been asked to leave. Not her job. Not her neighborhood. Her beat.

Erin Richards is the K-12 reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As she was getting ready for an upcoming meeting, she noticed she was an item on the agenda.

The School Board’s President was “…requesting that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel assign a new reporter who is not biased against MPS to cover MPS.” (See item number 14)

Jim Romenesko was quick to pick this one up. To him, the district referenced an email that had been sent to Richards’ editor citing factual errors and typos as the reason they wanted a new reporter assigned.

Whether any of that is true,  since when does a school board decide who is or is not covering the beat?

An editor can certainly talk with a reporter after receiving a similar email. But reassigning the reporter based on a request from the school board? That doesn’t fly with me.

Freelance journalist Jeff Cutler brought up a valid point on Twitter.

If you were the editor, what would you do?