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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In Internet age, ratings show TV news remains relevant



How did TV news programs and networks fare in the 2014 battle for viewers?


The television news business is trying hard to catch up with rapidly changing technology.


Americans are getting more of their news from their Twitter feeds, friends' Facebook posts and websites such as Reddit. There are live bloggers who chronicle events as they unfold — now they can even stream live video with their smartphones.

But TV news is still overwhelmingly watched on televisions. Although the landscape has become more challenging, TV news can still be a lucrative endeavor. The morning shows each generate hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue for their networks.

The evening newscasts remain vital to each network's image, and after years of fighting off irrelevancy, are now seeing a ratings renaissance. Cable news outlets are big profit centers for their corporate parents, and while their audience levels appear to have plateaued, they can still set the agenda for what the country will be talking about.

Every day and night, these programs and networks battle for viewers' attention. Here is how they fared, according to Nielsen, in 2014:
Morning shows
Unlike any other news program, the nation's morning shows have always hinged entirely on personalities. 
So the pressure was on ABC News when the contracts for the entire team of its No. 1 morning show "Good Morning America" were all up within a year of each other. By April, ABC secured new deals for lead anchors Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer.

But the network did not come to terms with newsreader Josh Elliott and longtime weather forecaster Sam Champion, leading to their departures and a potential disruption in the alchemy that helped "Good Morning America" topple NBC's "Today" in the ratings after 16 years of also-ran status.

Champion was replaced in December 2013 by his backup, Ginger Zee, and Amy Robach, a frequent substitute for Elliott, was promoted to his spot in March. GMA never missed a beat, finishing as the most-watched morning show for the second-consecutive full year with an average of 5.5 million viewers through Dec. 15, a 12% advantage over NBC's 4.8 million.
"When we had to make changes, we made very quick and bold decisions," said Tom Cibrowski, senior vice president for ABC News and former executive producer of "Good Morning America."
The folks at "Today" have to be a little envious over how seamlessly "Good Morning America" absorbed its cast changes.

The NBC show's inner maneuverings have been gossip column fodder since the fouled-up handling of Ann Curry's exit from the anchor chair in July 2012, which resulted in a ratings plunge.

This fall, NBC hired Jamie Horowitz, a production whiz from ESPN, to oversee a total revamp of the program. But after word leaked out that he wanted to do a clean sweep of the anchor desk — angering the talent and his bosses — he was shown the door.Even in second place, "Today" remains one of the most profitable shows in television and still pulls in a higher rate than "Good Morning America" for its commercial time, thanks to the legacy of its brand name. Matt Lauer, popular among viewers, extended his contract for two more years.

But competitors believe "Today" needs a new, consistent plan of attack if it wants to return to No. 1. "Good Morning America" has seen its ad revenues grow by 30% since it took over the top spot in 2012.

The third-place program, "CBS This Morning," actually had the highest percentage gain in viewers during 2014 — up 7% to 3.1 million. But it was down 4% among key 25-to-54-year-old viewers that advertisers want to reach, falling well behind "Good Morning America" and "Today."
Anchors Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King earn kudos from critics and viewers who prefer the program's newsier approach, and executive producer Chris Licht said he has no plans for drastic alterations.
"It's an absolute concern and it's something that we look at," Licht said of the lagging 25-54 demo rating, which he believes will grow over time. "We're still in a building phase. These things take time. The mission here is to do news."

Nightly news
Now that viewers can watch news as it happens throughout the day on a mobile device, the nightly evening newscast feels like it should be an outdated remnant from the era of Big Three TV network hegemony.

But in 2014, each of the programs saw audience gains.

"Not only are rumors of our death greatly exaggerated — we are a growth stock," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams said in a recent interview. "And I have a secret theory that perhaps the best thing that happened to us is the rise of other media devices. The miniaturization of everything else has made us loom a little larger."Williams' program is up 5% to an average audience of 8.9 million viewers. "ABC World News Tonight With David Muir" is up 6% to 8.1 million, while "CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley" rose 4% to 6.8 million. Among 25- to 54-year-olds, Muir's broadcast is the biggest gainer, up 8%, pulling up even with Williams for the lead.
The ratings boost may be the result of having three programs — which once routinely summarized the same events in lockstep — that are more distinctive from each other than they have been in recent memory.

"ABC plays to its strengths with a faster pace and a higher story count," said Steve Capus, executive producer of the CBS Evening News.

"CBS has a smaller number of stories and we go deeper with our journalism. Brian is an immensely talented personality and NBC strikes a middle ground," he said. "Each of us is giving our audiences different options and that's not always been the case."

Cable news
While evening network newscasts are resilient, the maturing cable news business now finds itself coping with audience erosion. Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC all saw slippage in their average viewing levels for the total day.

The bright spot was for Fox News Channel, No. 1 in cable news for the 13th consecutive year. Fox grew its audience by 2% among 25- to 54-year-olds in prime time thanks to Megyn Kelly, who took over the channel's 9 p.m. slot in October 2013. Her show, "The Kelly File," improved the time period by 10% and ended three-straight years of prime-time declines in the demographic.

FNC towered over other cable news channels in prime with 1.76 million viewers, which includes 301,000 in the 25-54 demographic. CNN averaged 515,000 viewers — a 9% decrease; and 181,000 in the demographic, which is about even with 2013. MSNBC averaged 590,000 viewers, down 8% — and its demo audience declined 17% to 169,000.

CNN has made a tactical decision to supplement its news coverage with original series programming aimed at drawing younger viewers who are more appealing to advertisers.

The episode premieres of CNN series with Anthony Bourdain, Lisa Ling and John Walsh were time-period winners. As weekly entries launched in eight-episode batches, such shows can't be expected to move the ratings needle as much as a star personality who is on every weeknight. Nevertheless, CNN's new approach helped it surpass MSNBC for second place among the 25-to-54 demo in prime time.
The NBC-owned channel is most likely to see an overhaul in 2015, as its lineup of progressive-leaning political talk shows have faded."We're going to get out in America — and outside of dysfunctional Washington — and pursue the full range of stories that American families are interested in," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free Speech or Sanctioning Piracy?

Google Seizes on Sony Hacked Docs to Attack MPAA Conspiracy


The MPAA responds calling Google's position as a defender of free speech "shameful"

Google Logo NEW - H 2012
Google says it is "deeply concerned" about reports that the Motion Picture Association of America and six studios led a secret campaign to attack the search giant in its fight against online piracy. 

In an open letter posted to Google's public policy blog, general counsel Kent Walker wrote that he has "serious legal" concerns about the campaign, code-named "Project Goliath," in which he says the MPAA "conspired to achieve SOPA's goals through non-legislative means."

An MPAA spokeswoman responded late Thursday, calling Google “shameful” for positioning itself as a defender of free speech.
The movie studios have long considered Google the antagonist in their fight to remove pirated content from the Internet. 

They attempted to combat copyright infringement with SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but the legislation was ultimately postponed in 2012 after protests from companies like Google.

Even so, emails revealed through the Sony hack, reported on by The Verge and The New York Times, have shown that lawyers from MPAA and the studios — Sony, Universal, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney — were looking for nonlegislative ways to revive the site-blocking measures that SOPA would have put into place. Their main target in the campaign was Google, which was referred to the the emails by the name "Goliath."

"One disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part 'to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists' right to free expression,' " wrote Walker. "Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?" 

Google also points to reports that after the MPAA pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, a SOPA supporter, he sent a 79-page subpoena to Google. Although not cited in Walker's post, the Times also reported that the MPAA and the studios contributed to the campaigns of politicians, including Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning

The MPAA's response called Google a facilitator of "illegal conduct" and said it would seek help from all government agencies to "protect the rights of all involved in creative activities." 
Here is the MPAA's full statement. 

"Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal. 

Google’s blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct — including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Babes in Toyland' opened on this date in 1934.



The popular, classic Laurel and Hardy holiday musicals, "Babes in Toyland," aka "March of the Wooden Soldiers," opened on this date 80 years ago. Is it one of your favorite Laurel and Hardy movies? Photo courtesy of the America Cinematheque.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Public Speaking Advice

Passion is the key point.

Act like your bored and your audience will zone out.

I gave a powerpoint in Orlando just recently.  Most of my slides were
images, and I was the most animated character in the room -- not what was
on the screen.  I jumped, ran up and down the stage, raised my voice,
lowered my voice, made jokes (mostly about myself), and acted like I
CARED.

I am the actor. I am on stage. I am leading the troops, I am rallying
them, to DO SOMETHING.

A powerpoint presentation is secondary.  It is your notes as the
presenter.  It is not as interesting as you.

Get out from behind the podium, step out into the audience and stand in
front of people and ask them what they think.  Ask them to explain
themselves.

Tell them what you think and personalize the information.

I was fortunate to have on the same agenda was the COL of the state police
who investigated Virginia Tech.

He was speaking of the investigation he headed up by order of the
governor.  He did not jump up and down, raise his voice, or make jokes.
The subject was too serious.  But the information he presented was
personalized from his point of view.  he gave his opinion, he explained
the why and the how.  No one questioned his opinion because of the
gravitas of the subject matter, but no one doubted that he cared.

One a clown...(me), one serious and to the point...but both caring about
the subject.  Both will be remembered.

Lt Col Robert F Cain
US Army Reserve
Pentagon

Reposted as areminder for the remainder of the term...

First posted January 11, 2010

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The War on Organized Labor


In this image from video, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. 
APTN, via Associated Press 
In this image from video, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.
You have to admit that the Republican Party is organized, methodical and persistent – especially if you’re a Democrat, because your party is pretty much the opposite.

Slowly but surely, across the country, Republican governors and state legislatures are making progress in their war against labor unions, especially ones that represent public employees. Just yesterday, there was bad news from two states.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill making Indiana another “right to work” state, which is one of those slogans, like “pro-life” and “family values,” that sounds unobjectionable, but isn’t. That law is relatively simple: It prohibits labor contracts from requiring workers to pay union dues. The spin is that this is better for everyone. The truth is that it is not only bad for labor but also bad for the economy.

Unions will reduce a company’s profits somewhat, because they get higher wages for workers. But economists have found that unionization has a minimal impact on growth and employment. Six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws in place. North Carolina, which has the lowest unionization rate in the country, 1.8 percent, also has the sixth highest unemployment, 10 percent.

In 2010, wages of workers in unionized manufacturing companies in Indiana were 16 percent higher than in non-union plants. One Harvard study, published this summer in American Sociological Review, concluded that the decline in unionization since the 1970s is responsible for one-fifth of the increase in hourly wage inequality among women, and one-third among men.

The other bit of news on Wednesday came from Arizona, where Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would ban collective bargaining for public-sector employees.

They are mimicking a similar – and I think ultimately unconstitutional – law in Wisconsin, which pioneered the idea of singling out the people who work for their government and denying them the right to collective bargaining.

There has been a backlash. Opponents of the bill in Wisconsin have managed to recall two state senators who worked on it, and they have their sights on Gov. Scott Walker. Last November, Ohio voters overturned a bill that would have stripped most public employees of their right to collective bargaining.

The Republicans are not just waging an anti-union campaign, but an anti-government campaign as well. Right-wingers believe government is the cause of all things bad in the economy and in society, and are willing to sacrifice those who toil in the public interest in their effort to hobble it.

Proponents of the anti-union laws have told me it’s reprehensible for public employees to negotiate over wages, benefits and working conditions when their employer is the government to which we all pay taxes. When I ask, how is that different from negotiating with any employer, the answer I generally get is “it just is.”

Unions have over-reached in many ways, clinging to wage-and-benefits agreements that are simply untenable in today’s economy. But they are fundamental to maintaining fairness for workers. And governors in many states, including New York, have managed to get concessions from public employee unions without outlawing them.

From the New York Times, click here for the story and other news. 

George Takei Takes Story Of Internment To The Stage

As part of remembering Pearl Harbor...
From 9/2/2012
George Takei rehearses a scene from Allegiance, a new musical inspired by Takei's childhood in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
EnlargeJeffrey Weiser/Courtesy of The Old Globe
George Takei rehearses a scene from Allegiance, a new musical inspired by Takei's childhood in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
text size A A A
Today, George Takei is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series and, more recently, his hugely popular Facebook and Twitter feeds.
But his latest project aims to bring a different kind of story to the stage, one with personal and historical resonance. The actor was born in Los Angeles to a Japanese-American family just a few years before Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that 1941 attack, he and his family were among the tens of thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were forced to move to internment camps.
Now, Takei's childhood experience living in camps in Arkansas and California has inspired a new musical called Allegiance. Previews of the show are set to begin Sept. 7 at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
Takei plays two characters in the show: Ojii-San, the grandfather of a family in an internment camp, and Sam Kimura, a 77-year-old former internee whose story is told from the present day. Takei joined NPR's Scott Simon to discuss his experience of internment and the importance of remembering the darker chapters of American history.

Interview Highlights

On his own family's story of internment
"We were first taken from our home ... in Los Angeles to a horse stable at a race track, San Anita Race Track, near Los Angeles. And we were there for a few months while the camps were being built. And from there we were taken to the swamps of southeastern Arkansas. So, all the Japanese-Americans that were incarcerated followed that pattern: first, what's called an 'assembly center,' a very innocuous-sounding name, and from there to a 'relocation center,' another innocuous word."
George Takei (left) stands with his mother and siblings during their internment at Camp Tule Lake in California. The inset image at top right shows Takei as a kindergartener at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas.
EnlargePhoto courtesy of George Takei
George Takei (left) stands with his mother and siblings during their internment at Camp Tule Lake in California. The inset image at top right shows Takei as a kindergartener at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas.
On Sam Kimura and why he's described in the script as being "made of granite" with "so much buried inside"
"He is one of the thousands of young men who went from barbed-wire incarceration to [putting] on the same uniform as that of the sentries that guarded over us, and served in the military. He was sent over to the battlefields of Europe with an all Japanese-American, segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and faced the hell of war, the horrors of war. And the 442nd Regimental Combat Team returned from those bloody battlefields as the single most decorated unit of the entire war. And the character I play is 'hard as granite' because he went through that hell and came back."
On what drove Japanese-Americans to enlist when their families were in internment camps
"I was invited to the White House when members of the 442nd were finally given the Medal of Honor, the highest military recognition that the nation can grant. And after the ceremony, I asked one of them, 'How were you able to do what you did when this government treated you and your family so shabbily?' And he said, 'Well, George, when I was a kid, I began the school day every morning with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and I meant every word of it. But this government didn't think that I was American enough and so, by gum, I went out there to show them what kind of American I am.
"But there [was] another group of people who I admire equally. They're the ones that said, 'Yes, I'm an American and I will fight for this country, but I won't go as an internee from behind these barbed wire fences, leaving my family in imprisonment. I will go only on the condition that I go as an American; that I can report to my hometown draft board with my family in our home, and then I will serve.' And for that courageous and principled stand, they were tried and found guilty of draft evasion and put into federal penitentiaries. And that is the drama of this musical."
Takei rehearses a scene in which his character, Ojii-San, tries to cheer his granddaughter up by making her an origami flower out of a loyalty questionnaire.
EnlargeJeffrey Weiser/Courtesy of The Old Globe
Takei rehearses a scene in which his character, Ojii-San, tries to cheer his granddaughter up by making her an origami flower out of a loyalty questionnaire.
On the significance of the piece of paper that Ojii-San folds into an origami flower for his granddaughter
"It was the sheet of paper that was to ascertain the loyalty of people that the government had imprisoned on the suspicion — merely the suspicion, not the guilt — of being potential spies, fifth columnists, traitors. Everyone over the age of 17 had to respond to it whether you were male or female, citizen or noncitizen. ... Question 27 asked 'Will you bear arms to defend the United States of America?' — this being asked of an 87-year-old immigrant lady as well as a 17-year-old young man. Even more insidious was the next question, Question 28. It asked, and I'm paraphrasing, but essentially it said, 'Will you swear your loyalty to the United States of America and foreswear your loyalty to the emperor of Japan?' The government assumed that if you're born with this face — even if you're an American, never been to Japan — that we are born with an organic, inborn loyalty to the emperor. It was offensive and the amazing thing was that so many young people answered yes to those two offensive questions and went and served."
On why his family stayed on the West Coast after they got out of the camps
"We were from Los Angeles. We came back to Los Angeles because my parents didn't want to go to another unknown place that might be even more hostile in a different way. But indeed it was a different Los Angeles we came home to. Housing was next to impossible. Our first home was on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. And to us kids — I was the oldest, I was 8 years old when we came back — it was terrifying. All those scary, smelly, ugly [people] leaning on the walls or staggering around or falling right down in front of us on the sidewalk; the stench of urine on the street in the hallways everywhere. It was horrific. In fact, my baby sister said, 'Mama, let's go back home,' because we had adjusted to the routine of incarceration and it was home."
"I see Allegiance as my legacy project. The story is very important to me and it's been my mission in life to raise Americans' awareness of that shameful chapter of American history. I think we learn more from those times in our history where we stumbled as a democracy than we learn from the glorious chapters. We have the history of slavery or inequality to women, and now the civil rights movement of the 21st century is the struggle for equality for the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And I think it's important for Americans to know about the times that we failed, and Allegiance tells that story."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Joining Lynch Consulting : Pentagon Lt. Col. Rob Cain (ret)

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“Strategic Communications is not just a tweet, press release or sound bite.  It is what the organization delivers in action and change.”  

Robert Cain, MsEd., LTC (Retired, USA)


Rob Cain has operated in public affairs for government organizations for 28 years.  As a retired LTC in the Army he has traveled the world setting up and operating Joint Information Bureaus to facilitate the news gathering of national and international media on major military operations.  At the Pentagon he led teams to create and implement senior leader communication initiatives for medical, financial and perception -making campaigns to internal and external audiences.  Whether your company is preparing a new product or your organization is steeped in crisis, he can provide clear and precise communication plans to guide management and employees through the storm.  He has briefed the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army and has intimate knowledge on what it takes to break through communication barriers using traditional and social media outlets.  He has witnessed media facilitation over-seas, and at the highest levels in the halls of the Pentagon and at the United States Naval Academy.  He has taught at the DoD’s Defense Information School (DINFOS) teaching DoD Officers to be media-ready in their assignments.  He can set the foundation for managers to be proficient in public speaking and media facilitation.  He can set your organizations public affairs policy and provide guidelines for your organization’s image to be seen at the highest standard.   He was invited back 3 times to the Army War College to coach senior level executives and senior officers in techniques to brief the media, and news conference operations.  Mr. Cain can reveal the secrets of the three ‘Bs’ of outstanding staff work that will enhance your organization’s public image by: being brief, being brilliant, and being gone.”   

Raise your organization’s media savvy by inviting Mr. Cain to address your group or organization. 

Holding a Master’s of Science in Education specializing in Instructional Technology Mr. Cain can bring to your organization the secret of effective training.  As a team member he assisted in the creation of an on-line courses to provide long-distance training in public affairs and has repeatedly taught Public Affairs Seminars. 

It was Magic Johnson that said, “When you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.”  However, any organization must know what to do to keep friends, and to change any perception that will distract from the company’s mission and loose those friends.  Planning is everything. 

Mr. Cain currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.  He is an avid history buff.