Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TEA Takes on Fox

The following news release from the Texas Education Agency is posted verbatim. It's information worth noting. Further, this does not reflect on the local Fox owned and operated station, KTBC TV. T.E.A. is referring to the cable channel.

Fox Inaccurately Reporting State Board of Education Action

"AUSTIN – The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education’s efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.

"Here are the facts. The direct quotes come from the March 10 broadcast of Fox & Friends.

"Fox: "Texas board of education begins hearings today on proposed changes to textbooks…"

"The truth: The State Board of Education today is expected to take a preliminary vote on updated social studies curriculum standards. The standards detail what teachers are to teach in each class. New social studies textbooks are not scheduled to be selected until 2011.

"Fox: "So one of the proposed changes is to start history class in the year 1877."

"The truth: Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in the eighth grade and those standards can be found in the middle school standards, which are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is a link to the middle school standards: . U.S. History since 1877 is taught in 11th grade.

"Fox: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have been removed from the textbooks.

"The truth: The standards, not textbook, are before the board this week. Lincoln is required to be included in the first and eighth grade history classes, as well as in the U.S. government class. Washington is required to be taught in kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade. Here is a link to a document detailing those historical figures, including Lincoln and Washington, who are required to be taught as part of the standards . There is another list of individuals who are suggested for inclusion and it can be found here Additional modifications are still possible to both lists as the board debates the standards during its March and May meeting.

"Fox: Independence Day and Veteran’s Day are being deleted from the textbooks.

"The truth: Again, the new history textbooks have not been written yet but they will be based on the curriculum standards adopted by the board. The standards currently under consideration cover Independence Day in kindergarten, second and fifth grades. Veteran’s Day is included in kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades.

"Fox: References to Christmas have been deleted.

"The truth: A TEKS review committee briefly recommended removing Christmas from a list that mentioned one major holiday for each of the world’s religions. The committee recommended leaving Easter in the document. The State Board immediately rejected this idea and a reference to Christmas was restored in the standards months ago and can be found in sixth grade in standard 19(b).

"Fox: Textbooks adopted in Texas will be used classrooms across the country.
The truth: Each state has its own textbook selection process. Publishers may offer other states the Texas edition of a book but they are not required to select it.

"Citizens can read the standards for themselves at

"A live webcast of the meeting, which begins at 11 a.m. today, can be viewed at"

Most of the time, news releases from governmental agencies need to be edited. This one can stand alone. No interpretation is needed.

(C) Jim McNabb, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Matt Flener to a Top 20 Market

From Austin to Denver

Novice reporters should take note of the quality and type of work that KXAN TV’s (NBC) Matt Flener has done and is doing. It is not “flash and trash”. On the other hand it is certainly not pedestrian. It is original, thorough, and thoughtful story-telling.

Flener is not one to take a news release from the hand of the assignments editor and rewrite it slightly while throwing in a sound bite from a news conference. Flener during his time in Austin has always looked behind the curtain to see who is pulling the strings and talking through the megaphone. Now, Flener’s time in Austin is coming to an end, and viewers here may have more shallow stories from city hall and elsewhere. All reporters should strive for this kind journalism.

Now, Matt Flener is being called up to a top 20 market television station, jumping from Austin (#48) to Denver (#16). He’s also going to what many believe is the top station in the Denver market, KUSA TV (NBC), a station that has owned the awards over the years.

Flener says that he has had his eye on the Denver market and KUSA in particular since he started in broadcast journalism. “I am going to do general assignments reporting, and I haven't established a beat yet. I will try to focus my initial source development on a few topics to be determined, though, to gain some good trust in the community. As you know, that takes time,” Flener says.

Flener started at KXAN TV as an Anchor/Reporter in May, 2007. Since then, while focusing on city hall, he has been a “go-to” reporter for many big stories, such as the recent suicide-by-plane and Hurricane Katrina. “They say journalists shouldn't cry. Well, I broke that rule when I came back from covering stories during Hurricane Katrina,” Flener says on the KXAN web site.

He goes to Denver well prepared. “I enrolled in the Missouri School of Journalism and started my career at KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia, Mo. I eventually anchored the morning news at KOMU for four-and-a-half years, with stints as noon anchor, education reporter and investigative reporter.”

KXAN has added to his tool chest. “When I started three years ago, I wrote packages by pen and paper in the live truck. Our technology at KXAN has changed so much. Now, I can write a package, a web story, tweet, use a flip camera, and take pictures all in about the same time it took me to write one package. Technology has helped me do my job better, and I think it has allowed my stories to gain traction on many different media.”

Flener will still be on the air in Austin through the May sweeps, but he and his family are looking forward to the move. My wife is already planning snowboarding trips for my nearly two-year-old daughter and "figure ice skating" (as my daughter says) lessons for my soon-to-be four-year-old daughter. My wife and I are from the Midwest, so we are used to the cold, but we are certainly spoiled in Austin.” And, they will miss Central Texas.

“I will miss the invitations into the homes and businesses of great and welcoming people every day. I will miss my friends at the Austin Stone Community Church. I will miss the hundreds of people that have taken time out of their busy lives to let me tell their story. And I will miss Torchy's Tacos, Thunderbird and Bennu Coffeehouses, and Rudy's,” Flener says.

Flener will start working at KUSA near the end of June.

Meantime, does that mean that there is an opening at KXAN? Perhaps. Many KXAN loyalists may have seen a familiar face reporting recently—Catenya McHenry. She was a KXAN reporter in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Does Flener’s departure mean a return of McHenry? KXAN President and General Manager Erick Lassberg recently defined McHenry’s present status as “temporary”.

© Jim McNabb, 2010