The Comedian's-eye View of 01/12/00
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 100 17:02:15 -0800
Subject: The Comedian's-eye View of 01/12/00
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Excerpted-from: 01/12/00 -- ShopTalk
Wednesday January 12, 2000
"Until I saw Denzel Washington portraying me,
I didn't know how good looking I am."
- Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, on "The Hurricane"
It was 27 years ago today, that American League team owners voted to adopt
baseball's "Designated Hitter" rule on a trial basis. In a related story,
today, major league team owners voted to adopt, on a trial basis, Atlanta
relief pitcher, John Rocker as baseball's "Designated Hitler." (Steve
Dick Clark has just signed a deal with ABC that insures he will host his
"Rockin' New Year's Eve" TV specials well into the new century. While terms
of the deal call for expanding the New Year's Eve special to 3 1/2 hours and
allowing the ageless Clark to continue as host until he reaches age 75-- no
word yet, on what Satan received in return. (Voldseth)
America Online is buying Time Warner. Word is negotiations had been in the
works for months. The folks at TW were holding for the next available AOL
service rep. (Alan Ray)
Baseball's Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Pete Rose is
pleading for another ballot. This time double or nothing. (Ray)
Continued infighting reported in the Reform Party. A lot of it has to do
with representation at the convention. The John Anderson faction wants at
least 2 delegates from each planet. (Ray)
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
From: Robin Kemp
TV news has been walking a thin line of credibility for
many years now. This latest advertising-driven stunt, of
mocking up BILLBOARDS, for Christ's sake, over Dan Rather's
shoulder, is a new low.
Listen up, you consulting weasels! I have an even better
idea! Why not paint the anchor's head with chroma-key blue
paint and run ads where his/her face used to be? Those of
you with digital technology can forego the paint and key
your message directly over the anchor's face. Kinda brings
a whole new meaning to putting words in the anchor's mouth.
No more annoying news hole to fill!
From: Art Hackett
Wisconsin Public TV
RE: Rush's Ox gored
In a column in Tuesday edition of shoptalk...
It was reported:
Even some radio show anchors have expressed surprise that a
new technology was being used to compress their words.
Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh told The New York Times
that he first heard his show was compressed when listeners
complained to him about the added commercials.
"At first I didn't know what they were talking about,"
Limbaugh told the Times. "I was talking for the same amount
of time every day."
There is a similar device, called the Time Machine, that
squeezes or expands television programs. Networks and
stations use it to force long movies to fit in a two-hour
time slot - or to slow down short movies to fill the entire
The device used on Limbaugh's and other radio programs is
called Cash. Limbaugh complained about it, profitable or
no, saying he wanted none of it.
"I think it is the potential doom of the radio industry,"
he told the Times.
Gee Rush, I have a great idea to solve this problem for
you: a federal regulatory agency that sets limits on how
many minutes of commercial time an hour a station can run.
There used to be a saying, a conservative is a liberal who
has been mugged. Maybe a liberal is a conservative who
realizes that capitalism can be very destructive without
I realize Rush, (do you read shoptalk, Rush?) will probably
argue that there is a market place solution....people will
listen to "another station." Oops, did I say, another
station. Sorry, all the stations in the market are all
owned by the same company.
I have another idea...how about...a federal regulatory
agency that would limit ownership to seven AM stations,
seven FM stations, and seven TV stations, (of which no more
than five can be VHF), no two of which can be in the same
or overlapping markets.
But sorry, there is no more FCC anymore. For all I know
it's been bought by Time-Warner-AOL-CBS-NBC-Disney...and so
From: James Rafferty
Green Bay, WI
RE: Ryan Johnson's Letter
Reading some of the reactions to Ryan Johnson's Shoptalk
posting, why would you want to work in a top ten market?
To have to work with people like that everyday wouldn't be
worth the "big market perks".
Although I am no longer a day to day photographer, I too
felt that I wanted to ride the "choo choo" to a top ten
market. Here are my two cents for what little they are
As a photographer your "big markets" aren't all that great.
Focus on a market that actually cares about photography.
Denver, Minneapolis, San Diego, and many others aren't in
the "top ten" but the work I've seen from those markets
easily beats the "big boys" in the "big ten".
Now, at the risk of suffering the same mean-spirited abuse
that Ryan was subjected to by the "big boys", most of these
people in the "big markets" are burned out. They've been
doing it forever. Now, before I get the big "respect your
elders" speech from the "big boys", I have the utmost of
respect for my elders in television. I have learned so
many things from the people before me. But, there are
people in this business, especially in the "big markets"
that should just be put out to pasture. I've shot in
several situations in the "big markets" where a tripod
could easily be set up. Nah, the "big boys" are rocks. No
need for a tripod. Lights? That's why they invented gain
Ryan, don't let the "big boys" bring you down. Instead of
focusing on the "big ten", expand your horizons. Look at
the top 30 markets. Granted, maybe the salaries aren't as
great, but you may find a shop that actually appreciates
what you're striving for. And really, would you like to
have the "big bucks" like the "big boys" that have nothing
better to do than slam you and shook grainy shaky video, or
would you like to be happy with your job and really feel
that you're perfecting your craft.
From: Brian Bielanski
RE: How to get to the Networks
It's hard to for me to not get into this fray. I too am a
producer at a network in NY and I take exception to the
route described get to the networks. The path to my
network perch didn't involve a ride on a "choo-choo" as I
guess I should call it.
I didn't grow up in NY or LA. I attended one of those
"middle of nowhere schools". I then was a photographer in
a very small market walking what seemed like miles in below
zero weather with my old 3/4" gear and a tripod cause
that's how you get to the networks. I've run an ENG truck.
I've run a satellite truck. I've edited packages, teases,
vo's and sound bites (actually pressing the buttons not
watching a tech do the work). I was a producer in a very
small market producing the 6p and the 10p while going to
school full time. I was then a producer in a medium market
learning how to write from an executive producer from one
of those middle of nowhere "J" schools. I was then a
producer in a medium-large market working overnights
in a metro with 2 million viewers where the morning show
staff was a producer, an AP and an editor/shooter/eng
operator. We produced a pretty darn good 90 minute show
with very little resources. I then worked for a 24
hour cable network, field producing, jockeying satellites,
and coverings stories from school shootings to NCAA
Championships. Finally, I got my shot to go to A BROADCAST
So there are different ways to climb the ladder. My
opinion that skipping the small market to large market
leapfrog act leaves many TV news people lacking depth and
understanding is beside the point. The point is there are
many ways to get to the network. There are some folks who
went from college right to the network who are very
talented and there are those who made the market leapfrog
who don't have a clue.
I admire anyone who's trying to work there way up the
network ladder. Maybe I'm biased by my experience. I've
just found that having done it all has afforded me ability
to answer the question, what if I were in their shoes?
In most cases, I have been in there shoes.
As for why the network/big market photogs don't use sticks
or shoot the same old stale stagnant stuff. In some cases
they have good reason. Time, being shot at, pressure from
police, all play into it. There are some consultants who
actually like that sloppy look. In some cases it's just
sloppyness and lack of creativity.
Ryan, just keep working hard. Whatever the results...
nobody will ever decide not to hire you because you worked
too hard. Hope to see you with a network press pass around
your neck someday.
From: Tom O'Hair
KCRA TV Sacramento
RE: Ryan Johnson
1) The NPPA rules are mostly common sense.
Backlights...tripods..sequencing, are all important and
need to be included in your bag of photog skills. In my
opinion, all news photopeople are in the business of
capturing emotion. Things happen and you shoot it and show
it to viewers who were too busy with their lives to be
there. If you find over time that too many things happen
before your camera is on the tripod and rolling, then you
are hurting your story by using your stix. Knowing when to
shoot off the shoulder and when to use the tripod is a
learned thing that every photojournalist teaches
themselves, with the help of elders and groups like the
If the top ten stuff looks bad to you, it was probably some
feed video that was fed out from the first three shots on
some tape by some feed person who didn't even know what the
story was about. You can't control everything. Just try to
do the best you can with your work. I don't know of a
photographer who likes putting bad stuff on the air.
It is important to remember that viewers don't know or care
how the shots got on TV. Excuses and talk of tripods and
lights and live trucks is insider junk. Maybe with the
Chicago building shots safety was a problem...maybe the
neighborhood was rough. If it is unsafe to get out of the
car to shoot properly with a light and tripod, then don't.
Just balance the cam on the car door or the ground.
Remember there are ways to do everything better.
What we as photojournalist should concentrate on is
fighting for our stories. The battle out there (and I mean
this in a productive way) is not with other
photojournalist, it is with desk people, and editors, and
managers, and reporters who want to give you the absolute
minimum amount of time that they can to get a story shot.
Have a good time out there.
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© 2000 Peter Langston