By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
When phoned about the incidents that took place in 2002, Seibert either declined to answer Westword's questions or failed to return calls. But this time, to his credit, he responded, pointing out that he cited the FTA (incorrectly identified as the "Federal Transportation Administration") near the middle of his article. In the opinion of RTD Chief Public Affairs Officer Scott Reed, however, the mention is treated as a throwaway rationalization intended to justify greed and government indifference.
"It left the clear impression that there were some shenanigans going on with the consultants," Reed says. "It seemed to come to a conclusion that really wasn't supported by the facts."
Flynn agrees. "The two 'powerhouses' he mentioned were getting the least amount of money, which seemed to undercut the impetus of his article," he says. "It's one thing to be hard-hitting and edgy, but you still have to be accurate."
When contacted in late February, Seibert said he saw no need for a correction but felt that further investigation was warranted. "We really need to find out what's going on," he said. "It could be that the consultants were the driving force, or it could be that the RTD needed an Environmental Impact Statement rather than an Environmental Assessment. That's what I want to determine." He revealed that he would be going over RTD documents on February 28, with an eye toward a possible followup that would straighten things out once and for all.
As of March 11, no such article had been published.
Suspicions confirmed: Is the term "breaking news" currently being overused in a way that lessens its impact? That was a question debated last week in this space -- and on March 5, as the issue containing the column was hitting the streets, a pair of incidents suggested that the answer is a resounding "Yes." On Channel 4 just after 2 p.m., during the soap opera Guiding Light, a visual crawl labeled "breaking news" appeared on the screen, alerting viewers to a terribly important development: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer had agreed to become a Denver Bronco. Then, near the top of Channel 2's 9 p.m. broadcast that evening, anchor Wendy Brockman introduced the Plummer story by saying it was "still breaking," even though more than seven hours had passed since word had first circulated.
You'd think the news would have been broken by then.
Ready and waiting: Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the American media is standing by for war. Even network slogans are in battle mode, with CBS teasing a "Showdown with Saddam," CNN opting for the more punctuated "Showdown: Iraq" and MSNBC going with "Countdown: Iraq" for assorted updates as well as a program of the same name that was recently extended to fill the time slot previously occupied by wimpy peacenik Phil Donahue. Still, Clear Channel, the radio conglomerate that owns eight of the most muscular signals in Denver, may deserve the preparedness prize if a February communiqué leaked to the InternalMemos.com Web site is any indication.
The document in question -- online at www. internalmemos.com/memos/memodetails.php?memo_id=1329 -- revolves around KFBK and KSTE, a pair of Clear Channel properties in Sacramento, California. As such, a number of the items mentioned are extremely specific to these stations; for example, "Ross, please consider setting the volume high and removing the volume knob [on the ABC satellite feed], otherwise someone will turn it down and you'll miss an important bulletin." But others speak to the mania of the media at large for, among other things, giving a name to everything it does. At one point, the memo's author says, "Our coverage will be called 'America's War with Iraq.' In writing copy, please call our coverage, 'LIVE In-Depth Team Coverage of America's War with Iraq'.... Branding liners have been produced and are in the system."
The memo lists oodles of "interview and news possibilities," including "military history professors," "former G-Men," "local Mosque spokesperson" and, lastly, "anti-war types." Reporters are encouraged to look for "local angles, local people involved, local experts for commentary, federal buildings on alert, watch local gas prices, etc." But they're also warned not to "do local just to do local. This is an international/national story and the nets do a great job.... If you are going to make a mistake, do too much network. Especially early. THIS IS WAR."
It's also an opportunity. "People who have never listened to our stations will be tuning in out of curiosity, desperation, panic and a hunger for information," the memo says. "We must make sure we meet their expectations, otherwise they're gone forever and they ain't coming back." Talk shows, meanwhile, are seen as "a very important piece to the coverage puzzle. After the long-form coverage dies down, talk shows should live it and breathe it 24 hours a day. YOU CANNOT OVERKILL this story."
Should I wave the white flag now, or wait until the shooting starts?