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Monday, March 31, 2008

End-of-March Madness

Well, my hate-affair with Blogger continues, so once again it's PhotoBucket to the rescue... Just a few clips for you today, it's Monday and everyone is crazy busy. But here are a few of the things that caught my eye this week...

Nic Robertson is currently manning the Baghdad bureau and filed this report yesterday from my favorite rooftop:

(Of course, while I was wrestling with my uploads, Nic has reported that a ceasefire was brokered over the weekend... in Iran. This is seriously not good news for us, although at least it has stopped the current bloodshed.)

Last Thursday, there was a Planet in Peril piece shown on AC360 about sharks. John Zarella reports on a project to figure out why there are so few of them out there waiting to eat us -- I mean, out there spawning and doing the whole circle-of-life thing. There is also an interesting view of Anderson Cooper's little (and I do mean little!) corner of the LA studio:

Finally, you can always count on Tom Foreman for some lighter moments... a special tribute to Bill Schneider that ran during This Week in Politics over the weekend. At least, I think it's a tribute...:

And Capitol Domes. With the median age moving up as the baby Boomers age, it's not surprising that bald has been declared the new beautiful. Well, Ali always makes it look good. (Warning: earworm ahead.)

That's it for me today -- enjoy your week, and I'll be back Saturday!

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and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Career Advice & On The Red Carpet

I came across an interesting article about Ali Velshi that was posted on his alma mater, Queen's University's, website. The article is several years old, but still an interesting read. Below are several snippets:

Ali Velshi knows bad career advice when he hears it. The worst bit he ever received ran along the lines of, “Don’t give up the job you’ve got. Others are waiting in line.” His response? “Let them have it!”

Clinging is not Ali’s style, which explains how he has carved out an incredibly diverse career in journalism in the mere eight years since he graduated from Queen’s. Now an anchor and correspondent for CNN Money, he packs a résumé bulging with coveted abbreviations — CBS, CTV, CityTV, ROBTV. But in real life, that string of letters translates into a combination of hard work, flexibility and pure serendipity.

“Some jobs came about through timing, but I probably sent out about 4,000 résumés!” laughs Ali, who was born in Nairobi and who came to Canada at the age of one. “I’m glad I took — and still take — many left turns. I’m glad I wasn’t afraid to leave things behind.”

Ali credits Queen’s with giving him a good fix on contemporary social issues. Work in student government — he took a year out of his degree to work as the AMS Campus Activities Commissioner — and for The Journal opened his eyes to the world beyond campus. “There was lots of student activism and debate around issues of political correctness and events such as the ‘NO means NO’ campaign. It was an exciting time. Working as a reporter for The Journal, which was a serious newspaper, was the seed for my becoming a journalist.”

Fired up by his work on the newspaper, Ali hunted for a job in print journalism upon graduation, but when nothing materialized he applied for — and was accepted into — the Master’s degree program in journalism at Columbia. Around that time, CNN suddenly called him to Washington for a summer internship on the television program Crossfire. “CNN feels like a fluke. They were looking for Canadian interns and somehow got my name — I guess from one of the thousands of résumés I sent out. I was junior staff so I did everything — writing, research, phone calls, mail. It was a small bureau and I actually had a lot of input.”

Unbelievably, CBS came knocking next, offering him similar work in the Paris bureau of Sixty Minutes. He deferred his graduate degree for the yearlong job. (He deferred again when he returned to Canada; eventually, he opted not to take the degree.) It was a “terrific experience,” but he never felt he had entered “the strong editorial loop” that comes with covering stories in depth. When a CBS hiring freeze forced him back to Canada in 1994, the cachet of the CNN and CBS jobs landed him work with CTV’s Canada AM.

The next few years brought more left turns, including a yearlong fellowship to the U.S. Congress (aiming at political journalism), a stint at CTV as a senior field producer, and in 1997/98, a selfimposed sabbatical in South Africa, where he worked in property development with his family. “I needed a new vantage point, but I discovered that journalism was, in fact, what I really wanted to do with my life.”

“When I left university I wasn’t thinking, ‘This is my training, so where can I apply it?’ Instead I asked myself, “What do I want to do?” You need to think broadly about career possibilities. If you don’t have a professional degree, you’re probably going to bounce around in the work world, so you’d better be flexible. Which leads me to the best piece of advice I ever got — that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

His only regret is not pushing ahead academically, but he plans to chip away at an on-line law degree over the next few years. And he plans to master one skill that has persistently eluded him — pacing his life. “I’ve moved very quickly in my career. Now I want to slow down and find time for my family and friends.”

CNN Sightings

Soledad O'Brien attended the Chrysler LLC Sixth Annual Behind the Lens Award at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on March 26, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo credit: WireImage)

Anderson Cooper attended the 22nd Genesis Awards on March 29, 2008 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. CNN's Planet in Peril received the award for TV DOCUMENTARY. Live's Nicole Lapin also attended the 22nd Genesis Awards.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Saturday Clipfest

Well, I had several clips for you today, but Blogger is once again being cranky, so I'm afraid I had to PhotoBucket them and use links. Oh, well, at least we HAVE a Plan B!

First up is an interview that John Roberts did with Peter Bergen on Tuesday about the latest video messages from OBL and Zawahiri:

On Thursday, NewsRoom aired a piece from Nic Robertson, who is embedded with British troops in Afghanistan. (I can no longer read the name of that country without hearing Nic's pronunciation in my head.) Is it just me, or do these soldiers look like they ought to be in high school? I must be getting old, because these guys are out there doing incredible things:

Thursday morning, John Roberts interviewed Senator Chuck Hagel on American Morning, and they spoke about several things, especially the war in Iraq. But they also talked about the current political scene. This is one of the few Republicans that I could support politically (assuming he didn't have to sell out to the far-right-wing in order to win the endorsement...) This is just the end of the interview, but if you're interested you can check out the transcript here or pick up Hagel's new book. (I just started reading it; thanks for the tip, John!)

Also on Thursday's American Morning, Miles O'Brien was in the house, doing a report on airline safety. It was so nice to see him back there, I even watched it despite my fear of flying and the fact that I am getting on a plane Monday. (I'm not really afraid of flying, I'm just afraid of turbulence... Silly, I know; but there's a story behind it that involves an unfun flight, people throwing up, and the passenger next to me saying the Hail Mary non-stop for 30 minutes. Hey, she may have been all that got us to the airport safely!) 

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Where in the World...?

Saturday, Candy Crowley was in DC (for the start of a vacation week, which she interrupted mid-week for appearances on AC360). Sunday, Gloria Borger hosted Late Edition.

Monday, Kiran Chetry was off; Dana Bash was in Chula Vista, California. Tuesday, Dana was in Santa Ana, California. Suzanne Malveaux was in DC; Michael Ware (above) in London (Happy Birthday, Michael!); Larry King in New York City; Anderson Cooper in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, Suzanne was in Greensboro, North Carolina; Dana in Los Angeles; and Heidi Collins began maternity leave as her family welcomed a new son.

Thursday, Suzanne was in New York City; Nic Robertson is in Helmond Province, Afghanistan. Friday, Suzanne was in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

That's it for me this week... enjoy your weekend! 

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and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

How Big Is Ali’s Barrel?

I have a collection of CNN videos for you tonight. It’s been a week of ups and downs so I’m going to start off with the serious videos first. Beverly Broadman passed away this week- she was one of the original staff members at CNN.


On Issue #1, they discussed the impact of the falling US dollar on tourism abroad. Alessio Vinci talked with a few Americas who were vacationing in Rome and looked at the economic impact this could have on Italy’s tourism industry.

A “staycation” sounds pretty good to me. There are plenty of local places that I could play tourist and not really go very far away from home.

Now for a few lighter moments … and all of these come from American Morning. Have you noticed that American Morning has a new opening logo/ banner? John Roberts has referred to it as “nuclear.”

Old AM OpeningNew AM Opening

Although the color of the logo has been getting all of the attention, I found that I like the new music that they are using.

Ali Velshi had a run in with the new logo when it was used as a background while he was giving a report…

Kiran Chetry found a creative way to wrap up a series of stories that Veronica De La Cruz reported on…

Ever wonder how big Ali Velshi’s barrel of oil is? That questioned was answered this week and John Roberts found a smooth way of segueing into Ali’s segment.

And my last video tonight is of Delta-lina, from the Delta Airline’s safety video, wagging her finger at John Roberts.


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Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy News from CNN and Showing Love to Philly

TVNewster is reporting that CNN anchor Heidi Collins and her husband welcomed their second son, Owen Edward Collins on Tuesday night. Owen, who came in at 8.1 lbs and 19", was born via surrogate because of complications Heidi had due to Celiac disease and a former life-threatening blood clot. Congratulations to Heidi, her husband and big brother Riley. To see a clip pf Heidi's announcement posted by Cyn, click here.

The DC Examiner reports CNN’s John King and Dana Bash are planning to wed Memorial Day weekend. When the wedding happens, whenever it happens we will let you know.

CNN Election Express Parks in Philadelphia as Network’s Newest Mini-Bureau

Following a campaign coverage strategy of creating mini-bureaus in key political battleground states, CNN has parked the CNN Election Express in Philadelphia this week to create a full-time reporting presence for the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, the Election Express will serve as CNN’s production and newsgathering center, providing a newsroom for up to 20 journalists as well as a studio for interviews and satellite transmission equipment. By stationing the mobile news bureau in Philadelphia, the network positions itself to offer its signature and unmatched political coverage. The Election Express is currently parked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The creation of this newest mini-bureau in Philadelphia follows CNN’s successful and unprecedented strategy employed early in the primary season. CNN reinvented the role of embedded campaign journalists this election season by setting up mini-bureaus in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, staffing them with full-time CNN journalists charged with providing in-depth reports for each state. The result contributed to CNN’s position as the most watched network for political coverage

To read the full CNN press release click on the title

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Getting to know....Phil Kent

I know many of you are saying huh? Who is Phil Kent. Phil Kent is the chairman and chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Named to his post in February 2003, his responsibilities include corporate oversight of the TBS, Inc. domestic and international entertainment, animation and news networks and businesses, including TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and Court TV; Cartoon Network, CNN Worldwide, which includes CNN/U.S., CNN Headline News, CNN International and Kent has overall responsibility for all news and entertainment advertising and distribution, both domestically and internationally, as well as for all corporate administrative functions and Turner Sports. *

Not long ago, actually it was March 19, 2008, Phil Kent sat down with Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Matt Kempner for a question and answer. We're going to reprint portions of the article, since it fits so well with our 'Getting to Know You' series. If you'd like to read the entire article just follow the link.

Q: Do you get a hard time from friends and family about what you put on TV?
A: The interesting thing about TV is everybody thinks they are an expert, and everybody is an expert because everybody consumes a lot. My father, who is retired from the fashion industry, will often call me up and ask me who is overseeing the wardrobe for some of our anchors.

Q: How much of television watching is a part of your life outside of work?
A: It's almost like wallpaper in my office. It's playing all day, but I'm rarely focused on it. But I watch probably two hours in the evening. I usually watch an hour of CNN and one or two hours of something else.

Q: You've talked about how crucial it is to pick good people. Was there a time when you went badly wrong on a choice?
A: We hired a really good person for a pretty senior job, and I just had a gut feeling that they weren't quite ready for that job, but I didn't stop it. There's a tired expression, which is: "Pick great people." That's only half the sentence. You have to pick great people and put them in the right job. It could be a stretch for them, but it needs to be a job that you think they have a pretty good chance of being able to do well.

Q: You used to be a Hollywood talent agent representing writers and producers. Tell me about the talents that takes.
A: Patience, honesty, consistency and good follow-through. Patience in being able to stay on the phone with people with a wide variety of mood swings ...

Q: What about being a Hollywood agent is like being a CEO?
A: Understanding how to motivate people. You learn how to read people and understand what makes them tick.

Q: What's the toughest decision you've had to make as CEO at Turner Broadcasting?
A: It's a rite of passage of most senior executives that at some point they have to ease out somebody who is also a friend.

Q: Have you come up with a good way of firing a friend?
A: There's nothing more humane than honesty. You can deliver bad news with empathy, sympathy and encouragement.

Q: How has that gone?
A: Some better than others. There are people I'm still friends with to this day. And some people were very hurt. ... But I always felt I acted in the best interests of Turner. Those are among the toughest decisions. It's much harder than canceling a show.

Q: What's the one thing you'd like to ask other CEOs?
A: It would be really interesting to swap stories about how in order to develop your most senior people you have to sometimes watch a minor train wreck. If you know a mistake is being made, you can't stop every mistake from being made because then people don't learn. Having that judgment to know what's a big enough impending train wreck to step in and say, "No, don't do that." As versus, "Is that really what you want to do? I think you ought to think about this."
The question I always ask when I'm doing job interviews is, "Tell me about the failures you've had professionally and what you've learned from them."

Q: What's the biggest mistake you've made?
A: The worst at the time was canceling the rain insurance at the Diana Ross concert in Central Park in 1982 or '83. ... My company was doing the radio simulcast. I think I was in my late 20s. I canceled to save the gigantic sum of $3,000. That night was one of the most historic black-cloud, rain-drenching electric storms. ... We had to restage the whole thing the next night. It cost my company a lot of money. They were pretty upset with me.

Q: Tell me about the state of the TV industry and where the industry is headed.
A: There's never been a time when TV had more opportunity and more built-in risk to its business model. There are so many new things that people do in their free time.

Q: What's the big risk?
A: The big risk is the audience is fragmenting. A big risk in the business model of television is now the currency of the business has changed. Where we used to get paid for how many people watch the program, now we get paid for how many people watch the commercials. Even though we are not responsible for making the commercials.

Q: When did that take place, and what impact will it have?
A: Last fall. Take CNN, for example. It becomes more important than ever in the daily execution of our presenting our networks to make sure that going into a commercial we really try to do our best to keep the audience glued. So teases become much more important.
On the entertainment side, you will see a lot of what we call hard openings, when you go right from the closing credits of one show right into the opening credits of another. If you have noticed on TBS recently, we don't waste a lot of time with the opening theme song of "Friends." There's a quick shot of the friends around the fountain, a couple of bars of music and right into the episode.

Q: What's your best guess on what the TV industry and Turner Broadcasting will be like in five or 10 years?
A: People are going to demand what they want to see, when they want to see it and how they want to see it. We are going to need to accommodate those demands without completely disrupting our business model. Or we may not even be successful in not disrupting our business model.

Q: This is the company that Ted Turner built. How are you and Ted Turner most different and most alike?
A: We are very different. I could not have done what Ted Turner did. Ted had the uncanny ability of being able to see around corners. He is a classic entrepreneur. I am, I think, a pretty accomplished professional manager. It's a completely different skill set.

Q: Could Ted Turner survive and thrive in this kind of industry now?
A: That's a good question for him.

If you'd like to see a video of Mr. Kent being honored by Broadcast and Cable News 17th Annual Hall of Fame just follow the link. It's interesting to hear how of many of the people and programs we watch on a daily basis. are because of Phil Kent.

*Information reprinted from Kent's online Time Warner bio.

That's it for me this week. I'd like to thank our Ratings Guru for the Phil Kent find. Don't forget to check out this weeks Ratings at a Glance. ~Phebe

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Last Week's Ratings At A Glance

CNN has Highs on Certain Nights
And the Audience takes Friday off (as do some anchors/hosts)

Easter week, which is also Spring Break in many areas of the country can really affect audience viewership and it sure did with the cable news/information channels. Some of the increases can just be fluctuations in audience, so I would not read too much into big spikes in regularly scheduled programming unless there was some kind of “event.” Both Fox News and CNN witnessed drastic fall-off of audiences on Good Friday – many anchors/hosts took the night off and so did audiences. MSNBC normally posts average numbers on that night, so their fall-off was not so noticeable. This week also presented new schedule changes on CNN and MSNBC, but I would not expect one week to reflect a trend of the new/repackaged programs. And while the week was heavy on politics, it did not have special programming such as primary or debate coverage and analysis to boost ratings.
Courtesy: CNN

Fox News: 546,000
CNN: 266,000
MSNBC: 372,000

Billo had a hot St. Patrick ’s Day, but it was all down hill from there including a poor repeat (in comparison to his usual weekly average performance) on Friday. Campbell Brown had a full week in her time slot of 8PM, and while concentrated heavily on politics, it is no longer coded “ELECTION CENTER.” In comparison to last week, she was down 79,000 with much due to a poor performance on Good Friday. COUNTDOWN was up a modest 24,000, but also had a weak Friday like everyone else.
Courtesy: CNN

Fox News: 496,000
CNN: 332,000
MSNBC: 192,000

Well, HANNITY & COLMES had an outstanding week, even with a huge audience fall-off on Friday. I tuned into their programming for just minutes to see what they were covering and could never get away from Sean Hannity on rants about the democrats, Senator Obama or his minister. So, I can only chalk it up to controversy which appealed to their kind of audience. LKL witnessed a substantial audience for his Thursday night interview with Senator Obama. At 520,000 viewers for the key demographic of Adults 25-54, you can see it was far above his week average. He was the #2 program for the night in the cable news/information competition. MSNBC offered the Dan Abrams/Dan Abrams VERDICT (honestly I see very little difference in the old Dan Abrams and Verdict, but again, it is only a small sampling). Abrams’ numbers were down slightly, but primarily due to a very weak Friday. He was never on the air on Fridays, so viewers will have to get used to not seeing “docbloc” and seeing VERDICT on Fridays.

Fox News: 401,000
CNN: 337,000
MSNBC: 189,000

Yes, we got through the week with no asterisks (*)! Everyone aired regularly scheduled programming for the week. GRETA is off 70,000 from the week before, but she also had a disaster for a Friday performance. AC360 was off an even further 121,000 viewers this week versus the week prior with Monday and Friday pulling down the average. You would think the strongest night would have been his road trip with Senator Obama (Wednesday) – and it was very good, but Thursday was the strongest night. Thursday was “Passportgate,” which broke very late in the day and had further controversy with regard to Senator Obama’s comments about his portrayal and perception of his grandmother’s “typical” actions. Props to 360 substitute anchor John King on Friday as it was a weak day for everyone, but he managed to rank third out of all cable news/information primetime 8PM-11PM programming. I can’t explain the fall-off on Monday, except maybe a lot of 360 viewers are Irish???? MSNBC, well, the first week of COUNTDOWN repeats did slightly better than most “docbloc” programming. It’s really too early to tell if there will be any impact on AC360.

Courtesy: CNN

And as a side note, how did “Shock and Awe” do? Slightly better than the 11PM AC360 time slot of rebroadcasts. But considering there is well discussed “Iraq fatigue” (don’t bring this up in my household!), 349,000 Adults 25-54 for its first run on Thursday was very satisfactory for in-depth programming late at night. It was re-broadcast 2X over the weekend - #1 in its time period on Saturday, and unfortunately #3 on Sunday (Easter – to be expected).

^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54, Live + Same Day (LS); Fast Track Nationals.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hot Off The Presses (sort of)

Tonight, I'm focusing on the latest news about the news.... here are some highlights from a few CNN Press Releases.

CNN’s God’s Warriors Garners Inaugural ‘Television Academy Honor’

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this week revealed CNN Presents: God’s Warriors as one of the recipients of the inaugural Television Academy Honors, citing the documentary as one of the programs in 2007 that “exemplify television with a conscience.” CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour traveled the world to report God’s Warriors, which aired in August 2007.

In what it touts as an annual awards program, the academy will honor God’s Warriors and other recipients during a star-studded event on Thursday, May 1, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. An outgrowth of the academy’s Television Cares Committee, the Television Academy Honors celebrate television programs that best present issues of concern to society “in a compelling, emotional and insightful way.”

CNN to Focus Mammoth Spotlight on Black Experience in America

Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., CNN will launch a sweeping on-air and digital initiative, CNN Presents: Black in America. Breaking new ground in revealing the current state of Black America, this landmark programming features six hours of documentaries, a weekly series of reports that will air on CNN/U.S. and CNN International and appear as part of a multimedia online effort. The programming, which airs over four months in 2008, focuses on fresh analysis from new voices about the real lives behind the stereotypes, statistics and identity politics that frequently frame the national dialogue about Black America.

Reported by anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, Black in America begins with the two-hour premiere of Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination, a first-person account of what happened on April 4, 1968.

Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder – The King Assassination, Thursday, April 3, 9 p.m. (two hours)

In this first installment of CNN’s Black in America series, O’Brien investigates how James Earl Ray, an armed robber and escaped convict, had already spent an uncommon year on the run that included plastic surgery just a month before his path collided with that of the civil rights leader in Memphis, Tenn. Through interviews with witnesses and investigators, O’Brien retraces the steps of King, Ray, the FBI and Memphis police and explores alternative scenarios of who was ultimately responsible for the murder that, for some, represented the end of the American Civil Rights era.

Here's a preview of the first installment:

Black in America: The Black Man, Wednesday, July 23, 9 p.m. (two hours)

Perhaps the most misreported group in America today, black men are often stereotypically depicted in the media as convicts, gang members and absentee fathers. Told through the personal stories of graduates of the 1968 class of Little Rock Central High School, their sons and grandsons, for The Black Man, O’Brien seeks to determine whether life is better for black men now than it was 40 years ago. She reports on the disparities between blacks and whites in educational, career and economic achievement and factors leading to the devastating rates of black male incarceration.

O’Brien reports on successes and dissects myths to explore the state of black men in America today.

Black in America: The Black Woman & Family, Thursday, July 24, 9 p.m. (two hours)

In this installment of Black in America, O’Brien, examines the unique and varied experiences of black women and families in America. O’Brien looks at the reasons behind the disturbing statistics on single parenthood, disparities between black and white students in the classroom, and the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS on black women. The Black Woman & Family yields insights into black achievements and struggles and perspectives on King’s hopes for progress.

“As we developed this series, it was critical to go beyond what viewers believe and already know to introduce them to the real people behind the headlines that we report every day on our assignments,” O’Brien said.’s interactive special section for Black in America, available at, will launch in late March and will feature excerpts from the series and exclusive interviews with eyewitnesses to history. The section also will include timelines, maps and multimedia stories that highlight the ripple effects the King assassination had on the United States.

Headline News Announces Not Just Another Cable News Show

Coming off a year of continued ratings growth for its “news and views” programming strategy, Headline News will add Not Just Another Cable News to its weekend lineup, it was announced today by Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN Worldwide. The series will take a lighthearted look back at famous – and infamous – stories that made news. The series will premiere on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and will feature some of the most unforgettable political blunders of our time. Future episodes will highlight bad celebrity behavior, stupid criminals and unusual pop culture fads.

Not Just Another Cable News Show will air each Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m., with re-airs at 9 p.m. and midnight.

“Our CNN news group is in the fortunate position of having nearly 28 years’ worth of archived news footage, and this new series is a unique way of showcasing some of those clips,” Jautz said. “It’s an entertaining way to recall some of the more memorable news moments captured on video.”

The half-hour program will feature comedians, pundits and other “talking heads” offering their take on memorable video clips. The premiere episode includes editor Ana Marie Cox, Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein, Republican strategist Amy Holmes, Huffington Post media editor Rachel Sklar and comedian Hugh Fink. Not Just Another Cable News Show will be executive-produced by Conway Cliff.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Another CNN baby on the way

NewsRoom anchor Heidi Collins announced on Friday that she will shortly be going out on maternity leave. As you may know, Heidi has celiac disease, and because of potential complications from that as well as a blood clot she had about ten years ago, she and her husband were advised by doctors to have a surrogate carry the baby, who is due any day now. Heidi discussed her family's situation with Elizabeth Cohen:

For more information on celiac disease, visit the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
For more information on surrogacy, visit The American Surrogacy Center.

Everyone at ATC wishes Heidi and her (extended) family the very best at this blessed time!

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Last week we got a brief look at some of the clean-up at the CNN Center after the tornado damage. If you have ever been there, you will recognize the atrium:

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Finally, the commercial currently running about CNN's National Headliner Award winners:

Enjoy your week!

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and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Doomsday Vault

On tonight's 60 Minutes (CBS), Scott Pelley did a story about the opening of the Doomsday Vault. It reminded of a story by CNN's Becky Anderson. Here is the video from one of the reports that she filed and the links to several others:

Saving the seeds

Additional Links

Several days ago, I caught this moment on LIVE with Nicole Lapin and the control room.

Note: In my post on Friday, in spite of all my talk about Wolf Blitzer, I neglected to mention that Saturday was his birthday. Happy Birthday!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shock & Awe and Bill Maher, too

The second hour of Thursday night's Anderson Cooper 360 featured an extraordinary look back at five years of war in Iraq as seen through the eyes of several of the CNN journalists who have covered it.

Gary Tuchman talks about the initial invasion, when the troops (and reporters!) expected WMDs to be launched against them:

Nic Robertson, on the capture of Saddam -- he actually crawled into the "spider hole" to see where the dictator had been hiding:

John King talks about the "wildly overly optimistic" view of the Bush administration as to how long the war would last:

Christiane Amanpour talks about the emotion of covering the Iraqi election:

Candy Crowley, about how disillusion set in as violence increased:

Michael Ware, about why he remains there:

"Shock and Awe: Iraq Five Years Later"
is scheduled to air again tonight at 11pm ET.

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Michael Ware also made a guest appearance on last night's Real Time with Bill Maher. Appearing via satellite from the Baghdad bureau, he was at his Aussie best -- both funny and serious, as one must be when discussing such dangerous times:

Episode 124 of RTwBM, repeats several times on HBO this week, and is also available via the On Demand service. (For those of you who don't get HBO, I'm sure you can guess where else to see the clip...!)

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Where in the World...?

Saturday, TJ Holmes and Cal Perry were out in the neighborhoods of Atlanta, covering the aftermath of the freak Tornado that passed through the city. Suzanne Malveaux was in Plainfield, Indiana. Sunday, John King was in Baghdad; Suzanne was in Chicago; and Arwa Damon was on Reliable Sources from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Monday, John Roberts was on vacation (as he would be for the whole week) and Ali Velshi was filling in; Suzanne reported from Monaca, Pennsylvania in the morning and was later in Pittsburgh.

On Tuesday, Christiane Amanpour reported from London (above); Suzanne was in Philadelphia; John King was in Jerusalem; and Wolf Blitzer filled in for Larry King. Wednesday, Candy Crowley was in Charlotte, North Carolina; Anderson Cooper was getting exclusive access to Barack Obama in Fayetteville and Charlotte, North Carolina; Wolf again hosted LKL; and Michael Ware reported from a Forward Operating Base in the northern part of Baghdad.

Thursday, Candy was in Beckley, West Virginia; Dana Bash was in Washington, DC. And on Friday, John King subbed for both Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper.

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Issues, Pizza, Dancing, & Friends

Issue #1 is the economy. Issue #1 starts... IF you've been watching CNN US at noon ET this past week, you've seen Issue #1 which is zeroing in on how the economic slow down and credit/ financial institution failure will impact your wallet. Here’s a clip from the opening of Monday’s program:

This week, the program included a mixture of stories about the impact of the financial crises on individuals’ as well expert analysis and a panel of experts in the studio to answer viewer questions.

There were reports from: Bill Schneider, Dan Simon, Barbara Starr, Allan Chernoff, Kate Bouldan, Jessica Yellin, ElaineQuijano, Greg Hunter, Ed Henry, Suzanne Malveaux, Thelma Gutierrez, Melissa Long, Poppy Harlow, and TJ Holmes to name a few.

Dan Simon reported about the next gold rush. To see the report click here.

Wednesday's program even included lunch. Pizza was used as an economic indicator, since prices are expected to rise along with the rising cost of wheat. Ali Velshi got to enjoy a slice while Allan Chernoff's report aired.

Time for some TV math- if CNN = Politics and CNN = Money, does Politics = Money?

I don’t think Wolf Blitzer can dance. That’s the theory that I’ve come up with. Why else has he not taken Ellen up on her offer to come on her show? It has to be the dancing. Ok, so he is on the air for 17+ hours a week for CNN (and that doesn’t include the analysis that he does during other folks time slots, the election coverage or subbing for other anchors) and he has had those debates to prepare for… but… there had to have to have been time at some point. He was even in the right city….one of the debates took him to LA! Why have I brought this up again? Ellen got tired of waiting for Wolf and decided that Chris Matthews would do. His dancing swept Ellen off her feet! Here’s a clip of the preview & the of course the dancing…

Anyone want to be friends with Howard Kurtz? MediaBistro's FishbowlDC had this interesting article about Kurtz's friends:

Howard Kurtz added 26 Facebook friends this week, bringing his total to 1,302. His actual total is apparently 1,365 but due to various privacy settings only 1,302 appear on his list. For what it's worth.

He also had two status updates this week, which included:

Howard is wondering how many more girlfriends David Paterson has and where he finds the time.

Howard is wondering how many more pictures of Ashley are out there and how rich she's going to get from doing the guv.

If you'd like to add Howard as a friend, click here.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Awards and State of the News

Back in January I posted that CNN was nominated for several GLAAD awards. The ceremony was held on March 17 and CNN came away with two awards.

*Outstanding TV Journalism – News Segment: "The First Casualty" Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
*Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: "Uncovering America: Fighting for Acceptance" (

Congratulations to CNN on these awards. For a full list of GLAAD awards winners, follow the link.

I came across a really interesting report that was released this week entitled “The State of the News 2008”. It is a really interesting read about the major cable networks. It is sort of long but very detailed. To read the report just follow the link.

That’s it for me tonight. I want to wish all our readers a lovely Easter weekend.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting to Know....Kyra Phillips

Our latest 'Getting to Know.....' is with anchor/field reporter Kyra Phillips. Most CNN viewers have been watching Kyra's reports from Iraq this month. Did you know this was Kyra's fourth trip to cover the war in Iraq? She's done an amazing job and here are a few examples of some of her recent reports.

We're very grateful that Kyra took sometime out of her busy schedule to give us a little behind the scenes look at her life. Thanks for the wonderful job you're doing Kyra and stay safe.

1. This is your fourth assignment in Iraq. What are your impressions on how the current "Surge" has changed your safety and/or security reporting in the country?

Safety hasn't changed at is still dangerous to go anywhere. Deaths are down, but the danger factor remains the same. It amazes me how Iraqis have just become used to it and talk about the fact that they just do what they have to do with explosions going off behind them, but they keep on living. Their resilience is absolutely humbling.

2. What was your big career break?

Getting that first phone call about a real job offer--Lubbock, Texas! I remember asking my parents, "where the heck is Lubbock, Texas?" and my mom said, "I think Mac Davis wrote a song about happiness being Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror." Turns out the song was, "I THOUGHT" Lubbock, Texas was happiness in my rear view mirror!

3. Who was your mentor and/or role model?

In my personal life, my grandfather. He was a saint.
In my professional life, Art Buchwald and my investigative reporting professor Ed Guthman. I was blessed to have such amazing mentors.

4. What's on your iPod? What was the last book you read (or the one that you're currently reading)?

Wow...I have EVERYTHING on my iPod....I love music. You name it, I have it.
The last book I read was, "Eat, Pray, Love." I can completely relate to it.

5. What must haves do you take along when traveling to cover a story?

Meditation CDs so I can sleep.

6. When did you decide that you wanted to be a journalist? What attracted you to this professional? If journalism wasn't your initial career goal, what was?

I started a school newspaper in the 4th grade. My first interview was Dr. Seuss. Long story short, my classmate's dad tuned pianos and one of his clients was Ted Geisel. He was my favorite author as a kid so I thought he would make the perfect first interview for my paper! I went home with my classmate, went through her dad's rolodex and there was his number! Boy, was he irritated when I called him. However, he did give me about 10 minutes after I explained what I was doing. It may have been unethical with how I got his number, but I was honest with him when I got him on the phone.

7. If you could pick one story from history to cover, what would be your dream story be?

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ. How's that for "investigating the truth!"

8. What is your guilty pleasure?


9. Are you superstitious? Do you carry any lucky charms when traveling in war zones?

Yes! One of my best friends gives me her Koran necklace to wear every time I cover the war....she got it when she was 3 while living in Iran. She puts it on me before I leave and then I don't take it of until I am home and with her.

That's the second in our 'Getting to Know....' series. If you've got a suggestion for a subject or questions please email us. And a big thank you to Cyn for the clips. ~ Phebe

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Last Weeks Ratings At A Glance

March 10-14, 2008

Courtesy: Google Images

I’ve been saving this graphic until we have gotten past the big primaries (no slight to PA or other states here, but they are a fair amount of time away). This shows the ELECTORAL VOTE count per state, why some of the big states and why Florida and Michigan can make a difference. Losing those two state’s electoral votes is like losing NY and Maryland – ouch!

Last week we had one primary (Mississippi) and one sex scandal (NY) that resulted in almost three days of solid coverage. The interest in both topics helped raise cable in audience delivery once again.

Fox News: 540,000*
CNN: 345,000
MSNBC: 348,000

Yes, Election Center almost pulled into 2nd place, but it is actually within the Nielsen statistical error range, so it’s a tie for 2nd for me. And, what is very encouraging is that ELECTION CENTER is up 22% over last week’s average with a good, but not great, primary night in that average. Bill O’Reilly and COUNTDOWN are both down slightly from their week’s prior performance – so that is good news for CNN. Tuesday, primary night, the 8PM hour on CNN was the #1 program in the time period while COUNTDOWN was a distant second and Billo was third.

Courtesy: Google Images

Fox News: 530,000
CNN: 387,000*
MSNBC: 195,000

The only surprise here is the strength of HANNITY & COLMES on Friday night with the first of the Senator Obama interviews. The audience figure was 708,000 – well above the 530,000 week average, and ‘way above their Primary night average. CNN once again took the time period on Tuesday night for the Mississippi coverage. That number, not being a LKL performance was not average in the weekly average, however. CNN also beat MSNBC so with the combination of the pending resignation of the NY Governor and Primary coverage, audiences tuned to CNN. LKL is up over his prior week average.

Courtesy: CNN

Fox News: 471,000*
CNN: 458,000
MSNBC: 235,000**

Nope, no win for AC360 this week, and it was a combination of factors. The program had a very strong Monday with the NY Governor’s story breaking late that day and the bulk of the coverage was available after network news broadcasts. Monday, 360 was the #1 program in the time period and the #3 program for the entire primetime block – 8PM-11PM. Tuesday with the Primary coverage and pending resignation by the governor, 360 was again #1 in the time period. And once again, it was the #3 program in all of primetime – 8PM-11PM that night. Wednesday 360 was tied for the #2 program for all of primetime (tying with HANNITY & COLMES and beating GRETA). Thursday and Friday both eroded to the point where 360 lost the week due to those two nights really pulling down the average. While Senator Obama was also interviewed on the program Friday, it appears that the earlier interview on Fox took the audience. Friday was the lowest night of the week and I would have expected it to perform better. AC360’s week average was up 65,000 viewers over the prior week – nothing to sneeze at, but GRETA was up 100,000. It did take some doing to find a picture of “the Toob” with his webcam from Hawaii on Monday, but you’d be surprised what you can find on Google Images with search words…..

So that’s it - another win in the key demographic of Adults 25-54 in Primary coverage and good weekly increases for the CNN programs. ~ RATINGS GURU

*4 day average; Primary coverage aired Tuesday.
**3 day average; Primary coverage aired Tuesday; Dan Abrams does not air Fridays.
^Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Adults 25-54; Live + Same Day (LS); Fast Track Nationals.

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