For the Content Creator a New Website is a New Car

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Photo courtesy CCL

Seeing an appealing new website come online is to a content creator what an exciting new model of car is for the auto enthusiast: One is itching to get behind the screens to an operating dashboard and take it for a rich content-creating spin.

Because the best sites make it a delight, not a burden, to create and showcase new content – particularly if you’re an enthusiastic writer and photographer.

The Coastal Conservation League (CCL) of South Carolina has just such a new website. It’s gorgeous. And immediately displays the astonishing amount of conservation work done in the southern United States lowcountry by the CCL.

However, as a media professional, I went right to the press releases portion of the site, and I am now busily touting how the CCL has presented their releases within the new site.

As someone who is often called upon to write press releases, which too often serve as a client’s only new content, I am constantly bemoaning how releases are not getting the “workout” some deserve.

Not only are too many of them poorly written (not by me!) and merely fired-out via PR Newswire, they are not made interactive (live, working links), they are not visually appealing, they’re not easily found on websites, and they’re not made easily share-able in social.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

CCL’s Laurin Manning, working with Wide Eye Creative, has clearly conquered all those media-related hurdles within their new site. I’m delighted to have their example with which to beat folk over the head with.

Rather, show them. Of course, it’s up to clients where they wish to spend their time and money. But nudging them towards investing in a better website and a better press release is always a media professional’s time well spent.

So You Think You Can Cover A Violent Protest?

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CNN’s Don Lemon (L) and Chris Cuomo (R) deal with uninvited guests (center) in their Ferguson, MO live shot. Vine screen grab courtesy Tim Burke. 11-24-14.

Don Lemon of CNN’s such a douchebag. He’s so douchey he’s trending on Atlanta Twitter, and not in a good way. Mostly he’s trending for being too white-ish and jabbering on-air about smelling weed burning in Ferguson, MO last night, 11-24-14, as the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson news broke. Everyone loves to hate on Don Lemon. Me too!

That said about Lemon’s douchiness, as an aspiring cub news producer I once got caught-up in the midst of a downtown Atlanta protest that turned violent. Blacks were angry (Maria Saporta reminded me of what sparked the outburst) and were massing, yelling, marching, and breaking windows along Peachtree Street, and assaulting, brutally, innocent people who just happened to be near the protest and thus convenient targets.

When it became crystal clear there was no one around to protect me (I don’t think I ever saw a single cop in the mix), and after having had someone I thought was a friend scream ugly things in my face (she was part of the protesting crowd; I was news media covering the event; that’s what unnerved me the most), and my crew concentrating solely on getting the shot and not giving a rat’s ass if I was attacked, I immediately dropped my assignment like a scalding hot potato, ran to the edge of the protest, hailed a cab, and beat a swifty retreat back to the newsroom.

Never again would I put my own life in danger just to “get the shot.” I clearly got culled from any future potential war correspondent herd that day. Whew!

In other words, a violent protest in America is a very scary place to be in the middle of. Kudos to anyone in news who lasted through the night in Ferguson. (Including His Douchiness, Don Lemon.) They’re a hell of a lot braver than I’ll ever be.

The Historical Legacy of WSB-TV Production

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WSBTVVoterF

After pondering the despicable act by despicable people of attempting to suppress the black vote in the year 2014, in Georgia of all places, take a media moment with me as I say something nice about a Cox product: WSB-TV.

The above (click the pic of Junior Farmer to get to the video) is excellent news reporting and packaging of a complex issue breaking that day (yesterday 9/17/14). As it gets immediately to the heart of a complex and historical matter, the key players, the SOTs, and the visuals.

This type of deft political production work, by WSB-TV’s political reporter Lori Geary and her production team, could not have been done without a longstanding, working knowledge of the issues on deck for the day’s news coming down – to be able to turn around this kind of comprehensive media that fast. In other words, sit back and watch professionals do their thing, cub reporting wannabees.

Knowing exactly who to get to, in a precise and time-thrifty way, and who to focus on and zoom to in the contemporary Georgia/Atlanta political arena, is editorial and production tandem work sourced from a unique and historic talent base that exists almost exclusively in WSB-TV’s deep-benched, legacy production crew. It’s hard to duplicate that level of precision political packaging elsewhere, in other words.

And it’s something we see often with WSB-TV’s political reporting. Not just yesterday’s. They know their civil rights history and legends behind the scenes there, as their production crews have lived, worked and played around Atlanta for a very long time. If one loses a career cameraman or director of 40-years at a place like WSB-TV, they take a lifetime of some mighty historical production expertise with them. And that’s simply not replaceable with an iPhone and an intern.

Tip of the hat indeed, as TV political reporting tends to take a back seat to the more easily social-shared written word. And folk who take politics and media seriously are dismissive of Cox-derived TV news, so tainted they are by a self-directed reputation founded from featuring senseless violence, self-promotion, and roadkill carnage over more civic-minded news.

It’s important to remember that visuals and sound working together, as opposed to radio/print/static screens, are also important to a highly nuanced political story, particularly a voter fraud/voter suppression story from the south. Especially in a state with a mighty history of dubious political legacies, ghosts and legends.

Don’t miss it.

The Craptastic Digital Life Of The AJC

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ComingSundayAJC

Don’t vote? Then don’t complain about politicians.

No doubt you’ve heard that one before. Exactly why I never miss a voting opportunity, as I sure don’t like missing out on a good political whine.

But the matter of digital at the AJC.com (and other Cox digital products too, but I’ll worry about the others later) has gone beyond whining to just embarrassment at and for our flagship, hometown, news delivery outlet. (I’d call it a paper, but I’m not referencing any print product here. Just the digital stuff.)

I think of gorgeous pictures from the Atlanta Beltline lantern parade last night that could have enticingly filled out a compelling homepage this morning, 9-7-14, shifting to exciting sports-related photos later in the day to enhance the Falcons’ season opener, alongside the numerous political stories from the week in some kind of overview wrap-up. And, yes, even that craptastic Ross Harris (the dad accused of murder-by-hot-car) story somewhere in an appealing homepage-in-my-head Sunday edition presentation… and well, I just wanna cry for what could be AJC.com. And WSB-TV.com too. (They should be one e-product really, but that’s another rant altogether.)

When you don’t give a shit about digital, guess what? It shows! “Coming Sunday” on Sunday, plus all the cliched copy and grade school headlining imaginable? Gawd, today’s AJC digital product is so pitiful I wouldn’t dream of sharing it with my social network; I’d rather bury it out behind the woodshed.

My head is reeling, because the hard-working journalists, the few left around there, the proud, have done plenty of heavy journalistic lifting all through the past week, especially regarding the nasty level of corruption all through Georgia state and local politics. There’s been great work from numerous Cox employees reporting a massive amount of hanky panky straight out of DeKalb County, our bustling courtrooms, the AG’s and the governor’s offices, etc.

Only to piss it away on digi-crap you see a sample of in the above picture/screen grab. And on a Sunday too, the prime news reading and media consuming day for a serious journalism audience. And I’m not even highlighting their hideous homepage, whatever’s there, or not, now. Nor the online AJC’s rampant level of daily copyediting (or lack thereof) boo-boos. I’m scared to go back to their weekend-neglected homepage.

Since I gave-up on the AJC’s digital presentation with my croissant, second cup, and screens this morning, I thought about buying the paper product with which to properly absorb the Georgia political and otherwise news of a busy past week.

Not now. I’ll just put my $2.50 towards a NYT and call it a Sunday.

Launching The Southern News Network

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Help me launch the Southern News Network. To give to the build-out effort, go to the Southern News Network’s Go Fund Me page for more information. And thank you!

Grownups Are Corrupt

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Pheeeww weeeee! Of all the smelly players in the theft of WRAS by GPB deal, Georgia State University’s VP of Student Affairs, Douglass Covey, could be the stinkiest. And it’s a tough tough competition.

Seems Covey made sure GSU student fees were used to pay for a brand new WRAS transmitter in April of 2013. And then tossed that brand new student-paid-for (unknowingly and undisclosed to them, of course) transmitter into the sweet GPB deal for use when GPB took over WRAS.

Which, according to rules and guidelines of Georgia’s state universities’ behaviors, may not have been a sanctioned/legal use of university student fees. The sweet deal itself also not known to the public or students of GSU/WRAS at the time, of course. Come to think about it, the deal was known mostly to just Douglass Covey, his inner circle of intimate cronies, and key committee folk only. (Remember kids, these are all state organizations we’re talking about here. Thus all beholden to Georgia’s Open Records laws.) 

From Jennifer Waits in a Radio Survivor blog post:

Although it hasn’t been mentioned much in reporting about the situation at WRAS, in April 2013 the Georgia State University Student Activity Fee Committee approved a proposal to replace the WRAS transmitter. Estimated costs at the time were between $676,000 and $750,000. Meeting minutes also reference a construction permit to “install its main antenna on a downtown tower, allowing for a much improved signal in North Georgia, especially on campus, and in the Georgia Dome.” A few months earlier, discussions were well underway between GPB and GSU. An early draft agreement from January 2013 even proposes that GPB would help pay for the cost of a transmitter. The old proposal suggests that GSU and GPB would partner “to acquire bond dollars to cover all one-time costs of transitioning WRAS to digital broadcast…” Throughout the conversations between GSU and GPB, GPB was kept up to date about the timeline for WRAS’ new transmitter.

According to Georgia State email correspondence, the new transmitter was delivered in late April 2014. Interestingly, around this time (late April), Georgia State’s Vice President for Student Affairs Douglass Covey resigned from the board of Public Broadcasting Atlanta (which runs competing public radio station WABE). The GSU/GPB agreement was announced publicly in May 2014. Although the new transmitter has yet to be installed, it’s been pointed out that since student fees were used to pay for something that will be largely used by GPB, it could be construed as a misuse of student funds or even fraud.


Talk about a low life maneuver! And that’s not even counting Covey’s utter duplicitous skunkiness of sitting on the other public media folks’ (PBA/WABE) board throughout the icky and secretive maneuvering between GPB and GSU for expanding GPB’s public airwaves reach beyond the 24/7 grasp of the kids of GSU.

Man, what a skunk. I wouldn’t trust Douglass Covey to walk my dog to the curb.