Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Not Kidding...

The End

This is possibly the last newsmcnabb post. I’m hanging it up. I say “possibly the last post.” Something may be so juicy or troublesome that I could feel compelled to write, but I think four years of periodic posts is possibly enough.

At the outset, I wanted the blog to be more than a recitation of comings and goings. That can be accomplished in much the same manner as “Transactions” in the sports pages of the Austin American-Statesman. Comings and goings seem to be more and more frequent nowadays for a variety of reasons.

I wanted to go deeper, digging into all media in the market, and I think I did.

This doesn’t mean that there is no longer anything to write about. Just look at the almost daily “corrections” on Page 2 of the American-Statesman. Some of them are glaring. The most common and possibly the most heinous are misidentifications. Misidentifications can sometimes result in lawsuits!

I thought about writing something about the new owners of KEYE TV, and Sinclair’s history in politics. I decided to take a “wait and see” approach. If you are curious, just Google Sinclair Media.

New owners and TV news consultants are also an interesting subject. Many think what worked in another television market will work in Austin. It probably won’t. Austin is not a “cookie-cutter” market. Yet, these managers who “ain’t from around here” will keep trying until the audience/the ratings prove it to them.

Consultants would be more useful in coaching new staff members some of whom seem to be working their first TV jobs. Somebody needs to tell them to stop yelling at the audience; just talk. Be conversational. Your voice in your live shot should match your delivery in the voice track. It would be mean and possibly hurtful to be specific, so I didn’t write about that.

I could have written more about the online, hyper-local media such as CultureMapAustin, Austin Post, the Austinist, and several others. I’ve wondered if folks glean their news from these sites as much or more than so-called “main stream media.”

Taking stock, my 272 posts over four years is probably plenty.

When I started writing newsmcnabb, I felt like I was filling a void. There is still a void, but it is smaller. Gary Dinges of the Statesman, whom I’ve never met, is doing a good job of covering local broadcast media now. No, he’s not going to criticize his own newspaper, and he’s not going to take a point of view, but he is doing good reporting. It’s his full time job.

Writing newsmcnabb is not my full-time job. Right now, I’m more interested and even obsessed with the coming semester at St. Edward’s University. For the next nine months, my energy, creativity, and priority will be focused on preparing solid content for my students. It must be said, it is so very, very satisfying when those students succeed!

So, “newsmcnabb” will remain in cyberspace for archival purposes for a while, but it’s time to turn the page. Turn the page without even so much as creasing the corner.

One final and important thing: To those who followed or subscribed to my missives, thank you!

Wage peace.


© Jim McNabb, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Media: Texas is a One-Party State

An incredible feeling of freedom swept over me when I walked out of a newsroom for the last time. For the first time in decades, I could openly express a political preference and opinion. Journalists, bound by ethical standards, keep those views to themselves.

The campaign manager for a mayoral candidate years ago was convinced that I hated her candidate when in fact, I voted for him. I could not let it show. Reporters must be objective. Reporters must stick to reporting facts.

So, I’ve been disturbed by the reportage of the Ted Cruz/David Dewhurst runoff. I was shaken by this assertion by The Austin American-Statesman’s Ken Herman: “There’s no doubt we’re a one-party state.” Really? That news may come as a surprise to former lawmaker, Democrat Paul Sadler who will face Ted Cruz in November.

True, no Democrat has won a statewide office since 1994, but does that mean that Texas is a one-party state? Does that mean that the Democratic Party in Texas should simply save its money, bolt the doors, and move to New England where the colors are shades of blue? Should journalists make these leaps of logic?

I don’t want to hammer Herman alone. After all, much of what he writes nowadays is opinion, and it’s great stuff. The problem is that the piece in today’s paper (August 1, 2012) wasn’t presented as a column. Herman is an excellent reporter, and the story appeared as analysis. Opinions, however, should be put in the context of a quotation from a source.

I’m boiling over now after having stewed in this political pot for several weeks. During the Belo runoff debate between Cruz and Dewhurst seen in Austin on KVUE-TV (ABC), one of the moderators was trying to frame a question. He said something like this, “One of you will be the next Junior Senator from Texas, and …” I gasped. I might imagine that Paul Sadler might have thrown a shoe at his television if he was watching.

Did that TV talking head forget that we have an election the first Tuesday in November, and that election will decide who is the next junior US Senator from Texas?

Back to the Statesman stories concerning the runoff election. The front page story by Kate Alexander stuck to the facts, but mention of the Democratic Party opposition was one paragraph on the “jump page”. It acknowledged that Sadler “handily” won his contest. Then, she couldn’t resist throwing in the fact that “a Democrat last won a statewide seat in Texas in 1994.

Much has been made that Cruz, who has never held elective office, had extra time and, yes, money to tell his story and build a winning campaign because of delays due to redistricting. Between now and November, the electorate will get to know more about who he is what he says he would do if elected.

The same could be said of Paul Sadler’s candidacy and his solid record of accomplishment during his time in the Texas Legislature.

Voters will see a stark contrast in the candidates. Further, in November there will likely be a much greater turnout than there was for this ill-timed, mid-summer runoff election. Finally, there are blue bastions in urban areas of Texas—Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Voter turnout is the key for either candidate.

Maybe Ted Cruz will win in November, but that still will not mean that Texas is a one-party state, no matter what the media says.

© Jim McNabb, 2012