The Message

Gunny for Governor?

How did this happen? Rocky editor/publisher/president John Temple, who wasn't on hand the night the first CU package was being assembled, says reporters appear to have relied on Grimm's expertise based on "the knowledge of the source and the length of time in his position." In this case, Temple adds, "we wish we had been able to get that checked out," since some readers may question the veracity of everything in the stories because of the gaffe at their center.

Talk about Grimm tidings...

That does not compute: Three years ago, Channel 7 installed the PVTV Production Automation System, a computerized device made by ParkerVision, a Florida company, that controls most aspects of a standard news program: digital video switchers, cameras and so on ("Robo News," November 29, 2001). PVTV saves outlets money, since it eliminates the need for many of the technicians who'd previously been necessary to broadcast a live show. Even so, it's not foolproof, as Channel 7 viewers and personnel discovered on November 16, when a meltdown put the station in an extended state of limbo.

Bob Newman tests the gubernatorial waters.
Anthony Camera
Bob Newman tests the gubernatorial waters.

According to Channel 7 news director Byron Grandy, "We had a major computer problem in the news control room about two and a half minutes into the 10 o'clock show that rendered the entire room useless." Worse, a so-called mirror system, designed to kick in if the main ParkerVision gadgetry fails, swooned immediately thereafter, leaving staffers with no recourse other than to reboot. While this was taking place, the station screened a super-sized block of commercials followed by a newscast that had already been seen at 6 p.m. There's no news like old news.

By Grandy's estimate, more than twenty minutes passed before Channel 7's control room was functional again. At that point, rather than simply produce an abbreviated program and keep things on schedule, the crew started from scratch. Grandy reveals that overnight ratings didn't show a huge drop-off after the glitch hit, with most viewers sticking around until the bitter end. (Either that, or they fell asleep with the TV on.) Even so, he promises a full-scale investigation in the hopes of preventing another unwanted repeat. "We live and die by these computers," he says. "In this case, they really kind of stung us, and we're going to find out why."

Call it a crash course.

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