Embargoed Until Wednesday Morning

We’re just picking up random items here in midweek, with mostly a TV theme…

THE CLEVELAND (NON-)EMBARGO: As it turned out, in the end, nothing apparently happened.

But there was a lot of behind the scenes intrigue in the past couple of days about a story “you saw first on 19 Action News at 10 on My43 WUAB” on Monday night’s show.

We hear that the 10 PM show that night on the MyNetwork TV outlet told viewers that the Cleveland Clinic’s face transplant patient would make an appearance in front of the cameras, and talk about her operation and its aftermath.

The Tuesday event came through with powerful, moving video from the Steubenville-area woman who was a shooting victim, according to this item on WEWS/5’s NewsNet5.com:

Connie Culp, of Hopedale, was disfigured and blind after getting shot in an attempted murder-suicide in September 2004. The shot shattered her jaw, cheek and nose.

It’s video you almost didn’t see…on 19 Action News.

OMW hears that the Monday WOIO/WUAB broadcast foreshadowing the press conference Tuesday broke an embargo – we don’t know if it was on purpose or if it was an honest error – on the story set by the Cleveland Clinic, a major public institution with a very savvy media department.

A very savvy media department, we hear, that then quickly disinvited the folks at Reserve Square from the Tuesday press conference. For a while, it looked like if they wanted to be “everywhere” on this story, they’d have to do it from outside.

Ah, but WOIO is part of a shared news video pact with Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3, which would be at the press conference with Ms. Culp. Would the Clinic lean on WKYC to not provide its news video to “19 Action News”?

As it turned out, cooler heads prevailed.

As you can see from this video screen shot, WOIO’s Harry Boomer was indeed present at the Clinic news conference, in person.

We don’t know why the Clinic changed its mind about allowing WOIO back into the news conference.

We hear it’s possible that the Clinic’s media staffers figured “19 Action News” would get the video anyway, either via the WKYC arrangement, or via CBS News – which we’re told had a crew covering the event.

And we’re guessing that after thinking about it for a while, the Clinic’s media staff cooled down, and realized that the positive, uplifting story should air on all stations…spotlighting the work of the medical facility’s well-regarded staff…”everywhere” on the airwaves. Even on “19 Action News”.

OMW hears that WOIO ended up being late to the party, anyway.

We’re told that anchor David Wittman actually noted on air – during Tuesday night’s 10 PM newscast – that the station respected a 6 PM embargo by waiting until that newscast to run the story pictured above (note the time on the graphic at lower right – 6:15 PM).

But the story ran an hour earlier on all the other local TV stations, after the Clinic cleared them to “go early”. Oddly enough, we hear that the Clinic media department didn’t dial up Reserve Square in that round of calls before the 5 PM newscasts.

We have no idea why Wittman felt the need to mention the embargo – which as far as we know, was unknown outside of local media circles, this blog (WE respected the embargo, and we’re not even a news operation!) and the Clinic’s news/media department.

Even if viewers didn’t know that the other newsrooms had been cleared to run the story an hour earlier, at 5 PM, viewers in general had no idea of the embargo.

Well, unless they happened to follow the Twitter account of WJW/8’s “Fox 8 News”:

Cleve Clinic face transplant patient talks http://tinyurl.com/c7anwr Story not on WOIO till 6, weird

Though WOIO wasn’t banned from the press conference, we still have a general question.

What if WOIO weren’t allowed back into the news conference in another similar situation?

It’s far from the first time that the local CBS affiliate’s newsroom has ticked off a source. It may not be the first time they’ve done so this MONTH.

For better or worse, if “19 Action News”‘ on-air (or off-air) antics result in denied access to an important source location – and just to pull examples out of the air, say, Cleveland City Hall or the Cleveland Browns’ practice facility in Berea – does the news sharing pact with WKYC get it “back in”, video wise? That may or may not have been the case here, since as we noted, WOIO could have gotten video from its network.

OK, so we’re not making these two examples up, as any regular OMW reader knows.

The WOIO newsroom was once actually barred from Cleveland City Hall (“19 Action News…BARRED FROM CITY HALL! TONIGHT!”) when former mayor Jane Campbell got upset with the station’s reporting on her family’s use of city-provided cars.

And behind the scenes a couple of seasons or so ago, “19 Action News”‘ staffers’ behavior inside the Browns facility while covering training camp got the station a stern reminder that it wasn’t a direct arm of the team, with full run of the building – and at the time, WOIO was the team’s local TV partner.

That’s a role they’d lose later, after airing 9-1-1 call tapes from the family of Browns owner Randy Lerner…

AND SPEAKING OF AIRING 9-1-1 CALLS: A state senator from Northeast Ohio is hoping to prohibit broadcasters from airing 9-1-1 calls…but he has no problem talking about it on a broadcast TV news show.

Our hat tip here is to WKYC “Director’s Cut” blogger and senior director Frank Macek’s item on a “Channel 3 News” interview with State Senator Thomas Patton (R-Strongsville) on his bill:

The bill would allow for the transcriptions of 9-1-1 calls to be read by broadcasters, but the audio portion would not be allowed to be aired under Patton’s proposal.

Broadcasters would be fined $10,000 for a violation.

Macek notes an interview with Patton in the Columbus Dispatch, where he says “people may not call 9-1-1 to report a crime if they fear their identities could be revealed or identified by their voice.”

We’re wondering, since Patton is a Northeast Ohioan…did the WOIO play of the aforementioned dramatic 9-1-1 call made by a relative of Browns owner Randy Lerner give him the idea for this bill? Or is there another story involved?

We’ll have to side with the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, which vows to fight the bill (as they have similar efforts).

Newsrooms like Reserve Square make it hard to stand up for this.

Just about every TV market has an “edgy” station that likes to dial up the drama. It’s usually the market’s last place newsroom, trying to climb out from the basement, ratings-wise.

In our humble opinion, this is an area where broadcasters have to police themselves – and since WOIO did not do so back then, it lost a large chunk of money by having the Cleveland Browns’ local TV contract pulled out from under it.

It shouldn’t take the loss of a multi-million dollar deal with the market’s most popular professional sports team to force a station to air responsible reporting.

9-1-1 calls are, in many cases, vital storytelling tools that provide an insight into the story you can’t get from interviews… and MOST TV and radio stations are responsible with the use of audio from those calls.

Patton’s interview with WKYC’s Eric Mansfield on the station’s 7 PM news “Focus” segment can be watched at the link above.

MORE BRANDING: The link to ABC affiliate WEWS/5’s “NewsNet5.com” story above was for one reason – to point out something one of our readers noted.

The station’s new “WEWS 5” branding has made the leap to the station’s website.

As we pointed out to our reader…though the Scripps station continues to use the “NewsChannel 5” branding for its news product, NewsNet5.com also serves as the website for the entire TV station…

TOWERING OVER PARMA: It’s funny, how we’ve become the focal point of information about the under construction tower that’ll hold the digital TV antennas for WKYC and ideastream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25.

And for that matter, it’s amusing how many people are deeply interested in the project. We get about a half-dozen E-mails about that tower each week.

We haven’t visited our friends along the Parma street next to the WKYC transmitter site for a while now…but readers tell us the tower “is about half done”.

One of our readers says it doesn’t look like the tower will be completed by “mid-May”, the date WVIZ gave in an FCC filing as the time they expect to be able to mount an antenna and start testing.

The other excitedly told us – “it’s about half done!”. Different perspectives, we guess.

And of course, June 12th is the “big” day…when both WKYC’s analog channel 3 and WVIZ’s analog channel 25 are gone, and the digital signals from the new tower are expected to start.

Later on our Ohio Digital TV blog, we’ll share our pictures from a few weeks ago…which show one important aspect of the tower construction that should clear up the timeline. The item will be linked here as well…

NO ENTRY: What nationally syndicated radio show host, heard recently on local radio, couldn’t get into the United Kingdom if he wanted to do so?

Why, it’s Talk Radio Networks host Michael Savage, who’s now officially banned by the U.K.’s Home Office (similar to the U.S.’ Homeland Security Department) from entering the country.

In a dramatic list, the government agency listed 16 of 23 people banned from entering the U.K. in a list of, and we quote, “promoters of hate” which were “named and shamed” for “stirring-up hatred and promoting their extreme views.”

(By the way, we were unaware that “The Savage Nation” had any British affiliates, but maybe we were wrong.)

From the Home Office’s press release:

—–

Michael Alan Weiner (also known as Michael Savage)

Controversial daily radio host. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.

—–

And yes, that is Michael Savage’s real name.

A San Francisco Bay Area media writer enjoys calling Savage “The Savage Weiner” for that reason. And the host’s legal name isn’t exactly unknown – he sells a number of his pre-radio herbal/nutrition books, written under that name, on his website.

Savage is joined on the list by such U.S., uh, notables as Rev. Fred Phelps, the infamous head of Kansas’ Westboro Baptist Church, and his daughter, church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper. You know, the funeral picketers.

While we’re not exactly fans of “The Savage Nation”, we’re scratching our heads at U.K. officials putting him on the list. He’s presumably basically unknown across the pond, aside from the handful of people who may stream his show via the Internet.

And we’re told the host himself has no desire to return to London, which he’s talked about in not-so-glowing terms on the air.

Savage was heard on Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron and Salem talk WHK/1420 until recently, and was most recently heard in a “fill-in” appearance on Media-Com Akron market talker WNIR/100.1…an event we wrote about here…

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