Tag Archives: news

My thoughts on Christine Brown

cbSomeone came up to me yesterday and said, “That’s something about your former anchor, Christine, getting laid off.”

No. You must have heard it wrong, I said.  She probably retired. Packing her bags for Mazatlan, maybe, but  not sent packing. Not Christine. She is the TV station.

“No. Read it in the paper.”

I got online. Sure enough. There it is. Brown laid off in station restructuring.

Twenty-eight years at one station. That’s rare in any profession. Virtually unheard of in broadcasting. Then laid off. I can almost hear the conversation in the conference room.

“…We’re undergoing restructuring that affects you…We will need you to sign these forms…your keys, company credit card… Happy New Year…” 

Christine’s last day was December 31.

I’m sure Christine is doing fine. I imagine her Facebook is jammed with good wishes from the gazillions of journalists whom she, well, I won’t say nurtured, she whipped into shape after she hired them. A no-nonsense news director.  Her newsroom was a boot camp. Ask some of my former co-workers: Faith Martin, Jordan Youngs (Both still in the Tri-Cities and doing marvelous), Claire Graham and Blake Jensen,now in Spokane, Melanie, who now anchors in Pennsylvania, Adam, who went on to Boston, now in Atlanta, Bryant in Philly, Lisa in LA; the list goes on and on and on.

But Christine taught her people not only discipline, but compassion. Christine is responsible for the success of the Coats For Kids campaign, which has provided winter clothing for tens of thousands of kids over the years, the annual Family Food Drive that just got nuts with the truckloads of corporate and individual donations that came in during the rain or shine, snow or ice, freezing or sub-freezing on the air telethon. A crazy, wonderful experience. Christine also championed my personal favorite project of the year, the annual Red Cross Real Heroes Breakfast, honoring ordinary people in the community for their extraordinary deeds.

I’m worried these projects won’t get the same priority post-restructuring.

Christine, if you aren’t there already, go to the beach. Have a big margarita for me. One of those the size of a bird bath.  Sit back and enjoy. And don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen.




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A humble TV news anchor on his glamorous profession:I ruin pants one leg at a time

You know the old joke about news anchors not wearing pants.

If things go in June like they did in May,  I may not have a pant leg to stand on by Independence Day.

On a Monday, I covered the Blitz Build (The Home Builders Association of the Tri-Cities and Habitat for Humanity build a house in five days). The silt at the construction site pretty much did a number on the suit pants, but wear a suit to a construction site, what do you expect? Occupational hazard.  

On that Tuesday, driving to court, I reached for the tube of chapstick I keep in the cup holder. The wax had melted in the sun and spilled into my lap–a most conspicuous and embarassing spot.

If you’re keeping score, that’s two trashed trousers.

Wednesday morning my 14-year-old Golden Retriever suffered a seizure. No question of my priorities, but lugging all 100 pounds of her into a backseat–and then into the vet’s office–covered me and the pinstripe suit in dog hair and  drool.

The good part to this story is that Sundance is fine. She was back to her old self by lunchtime, eager to take her daily walk to check her pee-mail and bark at the ducks in the canal.

The suit, however, had sat in on its last newscast.

Next week, you may notice me wearing some new suits. You won’t see them, but pants are included.


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The web of our life is of a mingled yarn

NBC Right Now Local News Today/photo by Scott Butner

If you’re like me, you no longer wait until 5 to get the news. You hop on line. Your phone Droids you. You’re tweeted. There’s the whole Facebook thing. There’s, ahem, blogs, of course. We’ve been talking for years about the future of news gathering and consumption. Well, the future, as predicted, is here.

For the past month or so, the morning crew (NBC Right Now Local News Today 4:30-7 a.m. Monday through Friday) has taken on the additional project of boosting the news content on the station’s website. After we get off the set in the morning, we start posting stories: local, national, stories from throughout the Pacific Northwest–anything we think you’ll find informative, sometimes amusing, sometimes aggravating, perhaps enlightening.

For me, first and foremost a writer, I dove into this assignment like a labrador spotting a duck floating in an irrigation canal.  The assignment also entails coming up with headlines. Some of mine Claire Graham says make her laugh out loud, and she says she can’t help but read the story.

She’s on to me. That’s the purpose of a headline. To get your interest, draw you in.

Here’s a few recent examples you may have come across.

Parade organizers sink wheat growers float

Deputy has bone to pick–with police dog

It’s BYOB, bring your own baby!

Starbucks customers bugged about dye

Pot charges go up in smoke

And maybe my personal favorite

Student avoids tests, but not jail

(You should have read the thread on the station’s Facebook Page)

Since we started, I’m glad to report, the story count on the website has increased by hundreds, and you’re getting information faster. If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ve seen the difference in the added stories we share.

So keep an eye out on the web for my bi-line–and the headlines.

And click here to sign up for breaking news emails.

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Speaking of death, “passing away” just kills me.

Death found an author writing his life-E. Hull

Judy comes home from vacation and asks her brother how things went.

“Your cat died.”

Stunned, tears welling, Judy says, “Did you have to be so cold and heartless with bad news like that?”

“What do you mean?”

“You could have prepared me for it. You could have said something like: ‘Well, Whiskers was playing on the roof. He lost his balance and fell, twisting his little leg. We took him to the vet and he appeared to be okay, but after a few days he didn’t look so good. Then, slowly but peacefully he faded until he finally, quietly, passed away.'”

Judy wiped away a tear. “You could have said something like that, instead of being so blunt and uncaring.”

“Sorry,” her brother said. “I’ll try to be more sensitive.”

“Thank you.”

Judy blew her nose. “So, how’s the family?”

“Well, Grandma was playing on the roof…”

In journalism, people don’t “pass away.”

They die.

I’m hearing and reading a lot more people passing: On CNN, the networks, and the Internet. Like Lord Voldemort, journalists suddenly cannot speak the word, death. I must have missed the meeting when the Associated Press, Reuters, and the other news services decided passing away is the acceptable euphemism for you-know-what.

If passing away is acceptable, why not

  • JFK passed away today from an assassin’s bullet.
  • The Queen has kicked the bucket.
  • Serial killer Ted Bundy has gone to live on a farm where he can romp and play with other serial killers.

Call me an old school, insensitive curmudgeon, but as a journalist, I tell my colleagues our job is to give the facts, straightforward. Don’t put Grandma on the roof.

Trust me, I tell them, the viewer can handle the truth.

(I paraphrased the joke from an old Bob Newhart record I inherited after a relative you-know-what.)

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When you go to court, you people watch. Wicked!

Funny image in the courtroom this week.  Sheriff’s deputies bring in the jail inmates, who sit in the jury box waiting to go before the judge.  I notice one inmate resembles Harry Potter. Slender, he’s got the dark brow behind the oval spectacles. His hair is pushed over the forehead, as if he were hiding a scar in the shape of a bolt of lightning.

There’s more.

Sitting to his right–and that’s why I got the camera rolling because you wouldn’t believe me without proof–a guy who resembles Harry Potter’s best friend, Ron Weasley. He wore that expression of terror, like he had just seen a giant spider. I could hear the British accent sputtering, “Harrry!”

Are you ready?

Sitting on the other side of Harry, a guy who looks like a young Sevarus Snape. Wicked, Huh?

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This should impress the boss. My blog’s stats in 2011

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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All’s fair, in love and on the campaign trail.

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I’ve been reading a memoir of the 1992 presidential campaign, collaborated by politics’ odd couple Mary Matalin and James Carville. Back then, they put their budding romance on hold while they ran their respective campaigns, she running the sitting incumbant’s campaign, he the challenger’s.

 I see a lot of striking similarities between that race and the one we’re currently watching.  There’s flip-flopping; the Clinton Camp and the media dogged Bush about reneging on his promise, “Read my lips no new taxes.” There’s scandal; Clinton dealt with stories about womanizing and avoiding the draft. There’s no shortage of attack ads, some factual some not so. There’s spinning the media and accusations of a biased media.

I haven’t finished it yet, (SPOILER ALERT: Carville’s guy wins), but  I got to thinking about whether I’d be squeeky clean enough to run.

Think about it. If you were running for President, could you handle the scrutiny of the pencil press, the electronic media, and the voters?

A few questions to ask yourself before filing the papers:

  • How’s your love life? Not just now, but everything in your past. Hmm.
  • Ever been arrested? What about your driving record? Speeding tickets? Texting while driving? (Remember the pix of  Maria Shriver behind the wheel with a cell phone to her ear?) 
  • Ever been fired? (I’m out)
  • What do colleagues say about you?
  • What do former co-workers say about you? (I’m definitely out)
  • Ever cheat, or let’s say, fudged on your taxes?
  • Could any of those Facebook photographs come back and haunt you?

Now, how about everyone else in your family? Could anybody there be a potential problem?

Running for public office, think before you run.

Check it out. All’s Fair, Love, War and Running for President.

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