The premise of my new journalism as I gear up for the full launch of OurLA.org is that all politics is local and everybody’s got the right to speak up so I’m putting together citizen and professional writers to tell the story of our community.
NBC revamped its website a year ago to bring together local news from a wide variety of sources and now is launching “The Filter with Fred Roggin,” a mix of fast-paced commentary, satire and humor. I’m happy to be one of the commentators as you can see in these short clips from Monday’s first show where Roggin, attorney Leo Terrell and I bat around some news items. (It will be broadcast regularly Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBC’s experimental digital Channel 225 starting July 20 and may come to Channel 4 itself if successful.)
Every news outlet on radio, TV and newspapers is cutting staff, slashsing costs and trying to figure out how to survive in the Internet world with audiences fragmented and revenue declining sharply.
There’s a lot of desperation to these efforts at reinvention.
A case in point is LA Times media columnist James Rainey, apparently under pressure to be interesting and provocative. Three weeks ago, he called for the firing of the widely-respected LA Weekly news guru Jill Stewart. As far as I could tell Rainey suffered from story envy since Stewart’s reporters have been beating the Times to death on the LA story.
Then, this morning, Rainey called for KTTV’s weather and lifestyle anchor Jillian Reynolds to be fired along with the 25 percent of the staff getting the axe in September because she talked about intimate details of her sex life with Howard Stern on satellite radio.
Maybe Rainey doesn’t like women news people or the mayor for his affairs with media women. Or maybe he just doesn’t like women news people named Jill. My guess is he’s just run out of ideas.
His columns are part of an anything-goes-as-long-as-you-attract-an-audience mentality that is widely shared in the news business. Certainly that has something to do with the unbelievable hype and non-stop coverage of the Michael Jackson story, the spectacular success of Glenn Beck on Fox and a lot of other things we’re seeing and reading.
Personally, I love it. Let’s all try everything we can think of to attract an audience, provide value that holds them and get their participation.
For too long, the news media has stagnated and gotten out of touch with the public as giant corporations reaped spectacular profits and imposed rigid rules and standards on journalists. Rupert Murdoch, always the boldest innovator in the corporate world, put Fox TV on the map by breaking a lot of those rules.
Now, the rest of the media is trying to break the mold. I don’t see how the public loses from the wide-ranging attempts at reinvention and the vast increase opportunity for free expression and the free exchange of ideas.
I thought that what was America and the First Amendment were all about even if it includes Jill Stewart’s exposes of City Hall’s failings, Jillian Reynolds’ exposes of her private life and James Rainey’s contempt for both of them.
In any case, here’s a sample of what we’re trying to do on the “aggregation” segment of “The Filter with Fred Roggin:”