Friday, July 22, 2005

Omarosa Doolittle

Before we put OMAnews on hiatus for a couple of weeks, we want to share this email from an alert reader, regarding the attire of Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond.

Not sure if you saw today's morning show on KETV, but Elictia "Omarosa"
Hammond wore a snappy black blazer and white shirt ... with jeans.

Yes, jeans. With a small bleach stain near the left knee.

You wouldn't have noticed her attire had she not done an
away-from-the-desk segment with Pam Weiss of the Nebraska Humane Society

Perhaps "Omarosa" has instituted her own Casual Friday.

She strikes us as one of those people who probably has acted like she owns the place from Day One, so people there are probably just rolling their eyes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I don't know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.

First, several alert readers have corrected our identification of KHGI as a Grand Island station. Depending on whom you believe, KHGI (a.k.a. "NTV") is in Kearney or Axtell. Whatever. It's out there in the middle of the state somewhere.

Second, another alert reader pointed out that new KETV weekend sports anchor Matt Schick's bio seems to suggest that he was the play-by-play announcer for Colorado's football and basketball teams. Unless CU has turned its radio contract over to undergrad broadcasting students, we're guessing that this is a case of Schick glorifying his work for a campus station.

While we don't want to pick on the poor guy too much before he gets here, some things are too tempting to pass up. Among them:
  • Prior to becoming the voice of the Buffaloes, Schick says, he grew up watching SportsCenter and that he “started making mock newscasts" when he "was young and geeky.” When was this? Like six months ago?
  • Among his hobbies, he includes "lifting weights." Who wants to bet that he refers to his biceps as "Mr. Jack Johnson" and "Tom O'Leary"?

We highly recommend the entire "meet the team" page on the NTV website; it contains an inordinate number of staffers—none of whom appears older than 25—who claim to have done very important work in New York, California, Phoenix, and other impressive-sounding markets. The station must have a very sweet compensation package, since that's the only plausible reason for such accomplished young talents to be working in Kearney, Nebraska. (For those of you whose sarcasm sensors are on the fritz, that was sarcasm.)

Incidentally, if NTV's owner, Pappas Telecasting (which also owns Omaha's KPTM) would put as much money into the Fox 42 news operation as it appears to plow into its NTV website, the Omaha station might have a fighting chance of putting together a decent product.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The New Ed Sean McMahon

KETV has found a replacement for departed weekend sports anchor Sean McMahon. Matt Schick has been hired from KHGI in Grand Island. Here's his bio.

Will the Last Person Out of KPTM Please Turn Off the Transmitter?

Wow. The bloodletting over at KPTM has been pretty intense, even for that station, and is exceeded perhaps only by the bitterness that seems to be waist-deep at "Duct Tape 42." A correction and some highlights:

  • Rumors of Taylor Wilson's departure were greatly exaggerated. Despite his absence from several new promos, he continues to anchor the 9 p.m. news and is said to have no job lined up yet.
  • News director Doug Crary was canned last Friday, to the sorrow of very few, if you believe the comments here and the emails we've received from several 42 staffers.
  • Crary's departure is the latest in a series of departures, including those of 42's assistant news director, reporter Matt Meyer, and the weekend news producer.

By every indication, most anyone in television should be grateful not to be working at this sorry excuse for a news outlet.

Friday, July 15, 2005

And Taylor Makes Two

If KPTM's promos are any indication, anchor Taylor Wilson is also outta there. The new ones feature Dave Hansen, J.J. Davis (we think), and Tracy Jacim. And if Pappas Telecasting knows anything about "synergy," it'll buy up every seller of revolving doors in Omaha. Do people who work at 42 (aside from departing uber-vet Matt Meyer) even bother to unpack when they get here?

It's sad to see people treated as shabbily as they are at that company. As we've probably ranted before, Pappas landed the license to start KPTM back in the mid-80's for considerably less than it would've paid for an existing station. Rather than plow some of the profits back into the station and into serving the community via its news operation, 42's owners have cut every imaginable corner, consistently outfitting the station with third-rate equipment, underpaying its talent, and tossing personnel out as soon as their contracts were up, all in an effort to squeeze every last dime out of an entity that it is supposed to be operating "in the public interest."

What a crock. On paper, deregulation makes great sense. KPTM is what it looks like in practice. If ever there were an operation that cried out for regulation and/or unionization, Fox 42 is it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another One Flies the Coop

An informed source tells us this afternoon that Matt Meyer is leaving or has already left KPTM. Meyer has been at the station seemingly forever, going back at least seven years. More on this story as it develops.

Maybe they should spray it on the "Senior Drug Mules"

We haven't had time to check out Rob McCartney's "Old People Who Smuggle Drugs" story, so we can't offer any comment on it yet.

Never a station to rest on it's laurels, KETV is whetting our appetites for next week's big Wednesday night "investigation": Mike Sigmond will report on perfumes purported to make those wearing it smell younger. The clever title of the report is "Smelling Younger."

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

Sweet Mother of Pearl! We don't post for a couple of days and people start sending emails like crack addicts who realize their dealer has skipped town.

Relax. We just got busy with other stuff and didn't have time to catch much local news.

It's interesting to note that we get almost as many visitors to the page when we don't write as when we do. Go figure.

Just so you know: the posts here will be somewhat sporadic until after Labor Day, and we'll have no posts at all from July 20th through August 2nd. Pace yourselves accordingly.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Monkeys Seize KPTM Control Room

Either that, or it was "blindfold day" at Channel 42. Viewers trying to catch the end of the Red Sox-Orioles game and the Fox postgame show were treated to at least four interruptions in a span of about ten minutes. The interruptions included a couple of 20-second clips of "Friends," a station ID, and part of a commercial.

What's going on there? Are they just letting people come in off the street and poke around? Aren't there any requirements for working there?

Wasted on the Way

A new study reports that Americans manage to spend at least a couple of hours a day surfing the net and otherwise wasting time when they're supposed to be working. Imagine what that number would look like if the researchers had taken Travis Justice's numerous gigs into consideration. That guy's entire day is a waste of time, to say nothing of the dozen or so people who listen to or watch him. Think how much time they're wasting.

U.S. Workers Say They Waste Two Hours a Day [Reuters,]

They skipped the "Old Wrinkled Nasty Whores" story for this?

We're eagerly anticipating Rob McCartney's Wednesday "investigation," the title of which makes us laugh out loud and cringe simultaneously. We know it's probably a very serious subject, but try saying "Senior Drug Mules" with a straight face. It can't be done.

Friday, July 08, 2005

It's Raining Tigers at KPTM

We are informed by an alert reader that KPTM has hired another May grad from the University of Missouri. No word, however on when Cliff Judy (pictured) is scheduled to start. Is 42 looking specificallly for people with funky names? And another question: Is this guy even old enough to vote?

Thursday's story regarding the hiring of Judy's fellow grad, Calvert Collins, has spurred interesting discussion regarding Omaha's recent metamorphosis into an "entry-level" market; that is, a market where a TV journalist can get his or her first job out of college.

In days past, one had to begin in a smaller market like Hastings or Sioux City before moving up to a job in Omaha. But hires like those mentioned above suggest that times have changed. And before anyone blames KPTM for this trend, let's remember that KETV hired Brandi Petersen right out of college a year or two ago.

For many in the business, there seems to be a sense that one should have to pay one's dues before being rewarded (if that's the right word) with a gig in a market this size. A rookie, veterans will argue, needs time at a lower-profile outlet to develop a wider repetoire of skills and to stumble a few times in a lower-stakes environment.

For viewers, it probably would be better to have local stations relying less on unproven talent; there's a lot to be said for experience when it comes to being able to tell a story in an interesting way. If producers and photographers are spending their time teaching inexperienced reporters the basics of the business, that's less time they can devote to putting on a quality newscast.

On the other hand, Omaha has seen more than a few "experienced" reporters who've been brought here, only to prove that seemingly no amount of time in the trenches will ever get some people ready to work at this level.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wednesday Night Alright for News

Two strong stories from Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscasts: one on Channel 7 and the other on Channel 3.

At KETV, Carol Kloss did an excellent job with a story that could've been a warmed-over version of others that've been done on the topic—drunk driving. Instead, Kloss exposed and then went after a guy with multiple drunk driving convictions who not only has slithered out from under more severe penalties due to a technicality, but who has also continued to drive, despite the revocation of his license.

In two particularly riveting (and, perhaps, dangerous) scenes, Kloss went calling at the man's home (he wouldn't come out) and then accosted him—in the dark—as he got out of his car after driving himself to work (in violation of his probation).

Kloss wrapped up the story focusing on one of his victims and suggesting that legislative action could close the loophole that allows these people to continue endangering others.

Over on Channel 3, Sarah Simmons Michelle Bandur showed just how much danger a Ralston man exposed his neighbors to when he decided to store 5,000 pounds of Class B fireworks in his garage. Simmons Bandur noted that even 50 pounds would've been lethal, and that, if ignited, the quantity of explosives in this particular garage could've levelled property and killed anyone within a block or two of the home.

She also gave viewers some perspective, noting that the 5,000 pounds of fireworks represents more than one company has used in six or seven four shows combined.

We frequently lambast local newsers for feeding viewers stories that aren't worth their time. Wednesday night's efforts demonstrated that there are stories worth doing and that local stations have the wherewithal to do them.

Editor's Note: Our apologies to Michelle Bandur for crediting her work to Simmons, who wasn't even on the air Wednesday.

Weide: The Missouri Edition

In this week's Reader, media columnist Sean Weide devotes his attention to two University of Missouri alums: KPTM reporter Calvert Collins and former KETV reporter Amy McLard. Not coincidentally, both are "hot," as the kids say.

Collins joined KPTM in May, just days after meeting news director Doug Crary at the Radio & Television News Directors Conference in Las Vegas. As you can see from the photo at right (Collins is the one on the left), no one is likely to mistake her for Calvert deForrest, who played the role of Larry "Bud" Melman on Late Night with David Letterman.

As for McLard, she left Channel 7 in 2001 and returned with her husband to the St. Louis area, where they both grew up. She is currently Vice-President for Public/Legislative Affairs for the Missouri Credit Union Association.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Now This Is How to Respond to a Critique

Harry Flansburg from KM3 posted this in the Comments section in response to our remarks about his Independence Day story/camerawork. It's so honest and free of ego that we thought it was worthy of posting on the main page.

My name is Harry and I'm the one who shot the story about the flags at Ashland Cemetary with Niver.

You're right, I did go a little overboard with the "low angles" but it was fun shooting the story that way. First of all, those flag poles are like.....25 feet high, so you kind of have to shoot up. And secondly, my tripod only goes up so far. Also, what might have seemed a little disorienting was that I used a wide angle lens in that piece. I used it a frickin' ton. Maybe too much, but with all that blue sky and sunshine, I thought the colors poppin' out of "Old Glory" looked bad ass. I guess you could say I was feeling patriotic, it was the Fourth and all.

But yeah, I did pound out that low angle a lot. I'll keep it in check. During the interviews with the war veterans, I framed two of the guys "straight on" and the third I shot "very" low angle. I was trying to mix it up a little, you know, not every interview looking totally generic and trying to get the flags behind him. He is a WWII vet who loves and fought for his country so I felt obligated to shoot him low giving him a look of pride.

Anyway, thanks for the input, it's appreciated........photojournalism is a learning process and not a perfect art form.

And Such a Little Pisher

Poor Tyson Pearsall. First, he must've lost a bet—how else does a guy end up as Chief Meteorologist at KPTM? Then they go and put a picture of him on the station website that makes him look like a 13-year-old Irving R. Levine, all dressed up for a visit to his Aunt Doris' house in Queens. Oy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The reference to Irving R. Levine has been removed in response to complaints from readers suggesting that Pearsall is hardly comparable to NBC's esteemed former longtime economics correspondent.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A New Kind of Newsroom?

Stations in Nashville and San Francisco will train their anchors and reporters to use smaller hand-held cameras and laptop editing equipment in an effort to "maximize each station's news gathering capacity to achieve a higher news story count."

Are we the only ones who think this sounds like the corporatespeak run-up to another "we need to do more with less" speech?

All News Staff to Film Video [United Press International] (We take no responsibility for the use of the word film here.)

News Flash: TV Can Make You Stupid

Newspapers are touting studies showing that too much TV-watching hurts kids' academic performance. Like, duh.

What they ought to focus on is the impact on adults' intelligence. We're convinced that ten minutes spent watching Channel 7's Suzanne Deyo or Andrea Bredow leaves us dumber.

Studies: Too Much TV May Inhibit Learning [Newsday]

Deb Ward Hops on the Excrement Express

It just wouldn't be summer in Omaha without someone in local news mentioning the term e coli.

Last Thursday, it was Deb Ward's turn as she delved into the seedy world of free makeup-counter samples.

Just for fun, it seems, Ward dropped in at a few retailers around town and got them to submit some of their "free sample" applicators for lab testing. As it turns out, in addition to free makeup, customers get all sorts of little prizes, including some e coli bacteria, which, Ward was quick to point out, comes from "fecal material."

For those of you not up on your scientific terminology, "fecal material" is a nice way of saying "shit."

Perhaps the best part of the story was customer reaction, which ranged from an uptight looking older woman saying "Oh my," to a younger interviewee who squealed, "Feces?!"

(Call us old-fashioned, but we can remember a time when you had to eat a hamburger if you wanted to pick up e coli. Nowadays, these kids have it too easy—they can just mosey up to a makeup counter and smear it on their faces for free. No wonder they ain't got no gumption!)

The moral of the story, it seems, is that there ain't no free, ahem, lunch...or makeup, or whatever.

By the way, Channel 3 should be commended for running the story at 10 p.m. rather than at 5, when some viewers might've been eating. We've seen (and probably griped about) cases of other outlets running stomach-turning stories like this at mealtime.

The Ant's Eye View

We appreciate creative camera work, especially in a market where there is seemingly so little of it. And no photographers seem to work harder at giving viewers interesting shots than those at KM3.

However, too much of a good thing can be, well, too much of a good thing. Several times in the past week, the station has run stories featuring shots from ground-level looking up at the subject. It was Monday's story by Kathy Sarantos-Niver on a small town putting up dozens flags for the Fourth of July that pushed us over the edge.

Just about every shot in that story was from ground-level, and it was disorienting. By the time it was over, all we could think about was David Letterman's old NBC bits about life as seen by his dog, Bob.

Monday, July 04, 2005

This Week's Investigasm

At KETV, Inspector Gadget's research paper this week is on "Driving Drunk." Viewers can tune in to see this gem on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Sportscasts' Days May Be Numbered

Do consultants want to kill the local sportscast? A New Orleans newspaper columnist thinks the answer may be yes.

The Incredible Shrinking Sportscasts [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Friday, July 01, 2005

Kloss Investigates Bad Judgment

Carol Kloss' "investigation" on KETV's 10 p.m. Thursday newscast ended up being less about past due child support than it was an eye-opening look at women with extraordinarily bad taste in men.

This first night of July sweeps piece featured a 29-year-old dandy named Nathan Leet, who has fathered five children by five different women and has an 18-year-old girlfriend, who is also pregnant. (He seems to have an eye for the younger ladies; one of the five moms says she became pregnant when she was 16.)

"He's a charmer," one of the women says, "when he wants to be." Indeed.

This "charmer" appeared to be a real piece of work, claiming that he'd been given the "short end of the stick," even though he abandoned two women shortly after each learned she was pregnant; what's more, he apparently neither lives with, nor helps raise, any of the five kids. This must fill the 18-year-old girlfriend with hope for the future.

Poor old Nathan told Kloss he took a two-month vacation and (wouldn't you know it?) fell behind on his payments. Now all these mean women are trying to get the money out of him, and he's trying to get a judge to agree with him that asking him to pay $1,300 a month is too much. What a pile.

The most heartbreaking part of the story came when his second oldest son didn't even know who Kloss was talking about when she asked about his "dad," and when viewers got to hear from the oldest of Leet's children, a 10-year-old-boy who said he'd really just like his dad to spend more time with him.

Just as disturbing are the six women who thought that sleeping with this guy was a good idea. Their powers of discernment as parents don't seem much better. One kid was shown sitting about two feet from the TV eating a bowl of spaghetti, while viewers were treated to footage of another engrossed in his X-Box. Not only are these youngsters without a dad, their moms are apparently allowing the television to raise them.

The story itself aggravated a few of our alert readers. One reports getting "sucked into watching" the report, "but I went away feeling like I had tuned into a Jerry Springer show." Moreover, she asks, "shouldn't investigative reporting [offer] a solution?"

Another alert reader offers no solution but has a suggestion "for Carol and anyone that plans on doing stories like this in the future; if you want us to feel sorry for the kids or moms because they aren't getting child support, don't show several shots of the kids playing XBOX on a TV in their own room. At least have their moms dress them like Tiny Tim. Try to make it look like the kids are suffering because their dad can't make the $200 a month child support payment."

Here's our solution, directed toward these women and others who may find themselves with this sort of "charmer": this case is the reason adults kept telling you not to have sex before you were old enough and responsible enough to make good decisions. If you'd kept this moron at arm's length, you wouldn't be in this predicament. More importantly, five innocent kids wouldn't be paying for your stupidity.
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