Mind your business: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Downturn," in the October 19 issue:
I believe that business reporting is down because the businesses that control TV want to deflect attention away from business. They want to vote down the new minimum wage. They want "business as usual." To most people, business reporting is dull and drab and dreary. If it doesn't involve a tax cut or yet another CEO indictment, most people just don't care. I don't watch Channel 2, but I'd venture that Nicole Petallides's thrice-weekly coverage is the TV equivalent of hog futures on those pathetic AM radio stations in east Colorado or all of Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Denver Post has stopped publishing stocks. Gregg Moss is MIA. Fox News has a feature I'd call "Fear Factor, Business Edition." General-assignment reporters "tackle business news as if it were a major snowfall or car crash." How about if business news were a carjacking or a pedophile story?
Business stories may not rank as high as health stories -- but a consumer story, hell, even a health story is a business story. It's all about the money, stupid! If the story involves money, that makes it news. If the story involves money, that makes the story about business. If the story is about business, that concerns all of us.
With politicians taking bucks for votes, 527s spending money to win votes to win elections, with businesses allocating jobs to win votes to win elections, business should be everybody's business.
James G. Ayling
Giving Roberts the business: Michael Roberts usually does a great job of analyzing complex issues involving broadcasting and journalism, so I guess it's easy to cut him some slack for the piece on changes in the way Denver television stations cover the business world.
The slide began when CBS4 cut loose Mike Fierberg, its prime newscast business specialist a couple of years ago, trading away a full-timer for a part-timer. Roberts seems to mistake style (the presenter) for substance (the full-time reporter). As good a journalist as Wayne Herman is, Roberts quickly glosses over his role as a "presenter." If Roberts believes anyone could come in at 4 a.m., develop stories, check facts and order up graphics and suitable video in time for a 5 a.m. newscast, he has less knowledge of the production end of this business than I'd given him credit for. Of course, it's possible that Herman was working business news leads in the afternoon, between showings and paperwork at his full-time job. But the smart money is betting that his promotion in the real-estate world came as a result of good hard work in that field the rest of the day.
The work that Herman presented was someone else's, even more so than the copy written for anchors may be at most stations on most days.They write, he reads, you decide whether the business-news segment is anything less because an anchor reads the copy. Also, if Michael Speers gets gigged for using his on-air work as a way of ginning up publicity for his brokerage firm, what should we make of CBS4 using a hotlink on its website to connect to Herman's real-estate sales page? Does his role as a "presenter" give him a "Get out of Critic's Jail" card?
Finally, by what twisted course of logic does Roberts expect consumer reporters at any of the stations to fill his self-created gap in business reportage? I can't speak for the guy across the street who makes very big money endorsing products and services, then leaves it to our staff at Call 7 for Help to clean up the mess when a consumer's dealings with an endorsed vendor go bad. But I've checked all my scripts for the last five and a half years, and I can't find one that covers those "vacuum cleaners that suck well" that Roberts describes.
In fact, the only thing I can see that sucks at all is the column he wrote last week.
Making eyes at the new museum: The last line of "It's a Go," Michael Paglia's latest love sonnet to Daniel Libeskind, in the October 19 issue, reveals exactly how blind love can be. Paglia states that the museum's abundant interior flaws "hardly matter given that stunning exterior." Has he been huffing White-Out?
Paglia, like other members of the Libeskind-infatuated Denver media, tells us it doesn't matter if the building works for displaying art because it is a dandy piece of sculpture. Snap out of it and check your history, Michael. Denver didn't fund a multi-million-dollar tax increase for a piece of sculpture; it was for a new museum. Okay, it looks swell on the outside (well, aside from the clumsy footbridge over 13th that looks like something stolen from the airport). But when you spend $110 million on a new art museum, is it asking too much to be able to hang art on the walls? The St. Louis arch is fine sculpture, too, but that doesn't make it a suitable art museum. And you know what, Michael? Given that the museum was mostly paid for by taxpayers, it certainly does matter that it fails in its primary purpose. Did anybody save the receipt?
Critics outside of Denver have panned the museum for its interior spaces, with most noting that when it does work, it is because the museum staff overcame Libeskind's many obstacles. So why are Paglia and the rest so blind to this? Because Libeskind is a master salesman who makes a living fleecing cities -- and we bought it hook, line and sinker.
Since day one, Libeskind has been feeding us crap about love for Denver and how the light here reflects in the eyes of the people. Hand me a bucket. Yet the media gobbles it up and portrays him as an architectural prophet. His museum wasn't merely designed, we're told; it was inspired thought, delivered by angels as he flew over the mountains, then hastily sketched on the back of a boarding pass -- a cliché as old as architecture. But the local media prints every nauseating word without question. Don't believe we fell for a sales script? Google the museum expansion he's overseeing in Toronto and see for yourself. He's tweaked minor details, but basically, it is Denver, Part Two: same pandering comments about his love for the people of Toronto, a building that could be the fraternal twin of ours, and even an inspired first sketch of the museum on the back of a cocktail napkin.
But in the end, maybe Paglia is right: To the lovesick local media and the art snobs in town, maybe it doesn't matter that the new museum is a lousy place to display art. Perhaps what the city wanted all along was not a great museum, but rather a trophy-wife piece of architecture to put on every brochure and website and point to and say "See! We are too a real city: We have a Libeskind." Just hope they don't notice the cows.
The nutty professor: With "Made for Each Other," in the October 12 issue, Alan Prendergast has written the best, truest account of the unethical propaganda put out by Michael Tracey and his team of self-promoting opportunists since the first documentary aired. Many people have been shocked to watch our justice system fail a murdered child so thoroughly -- in no small part because it was undermined by people like Tracey and his mentor, Lou Smit. In their fervor to "clear" the parents of JonBenét Ramsey with disinformation designed to create intruder suspects, many innocent people have been run over by that bus through the years. It's happened so many times now that reading an article like Prendergast wrote is a shock in itself.
Thank you, Mr. Prendergast. But never expect Tracey or David Mills or Smit to accept responsibility for their scams. It would shatter their fragile egos to open their eyes and see how willfully they've been fooled.
Seeing red: In his letter published last week in response to Prendergast's "Made for Each Other," David Mills wrote: "Such behavior may sell newspapers and attract viewers, but it represents the denigration of everything journalism should stand for."
As an old journalism grad, let me red ink to the proper statement, based on facts and using what I learned a looong time ago in Critical Thinking 101. The sentence should read: "Our behavior may sell newspapers and attract viewers, but it represents the denigration of everything journalism should stand for."
Ticket to ride: I thought Galen Shoe's Earplugs comic in the October 12 issue was hysterical. I was laughing about it all day.
I used to ride the bus to school, and the character fit to a T the description of a few people I'd run across from time to time. I remember this dude in Marilyn Manson gear who'd perch on the bus stop bench all the time. He wouldn't sit; he had to perch like Spiderman or something. It was quite a sight to see.
There was this other extremely vulgar guy on the bus who started singing about there being "no tits on the bus." He was quite expressive -- maybe it was his way of noting there were no women on the bus? He kept repeating it, like a nursery rhyme. It was ridiculously hysterical, to say the least.
Anyway, thanks for the laugh. This one's going on my fridge!
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The final frontier: Lord! Just about the time I think you all might be operating in the present, you fire off another zinger that sounds like the first season of Star Trek, Tuyet Nguyen's recent interview with Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards ("Heartless Wonders," October 12). Can't you think of anything else to ask this obviously talented and intelligent person besides whether or not she gets judged differently because she's a "girl in a rock band"?
I don't know whose porch you've been living under, but girls and women have been playing, singing, writing and producing in rock bands since before the enlightened 1950s. Driving, smoking and voting, too! The only people still making a big deal out of this are some journalists and others who still can't seem to get their minds around the idea. Move on, already!
Try posing the same question to Rachel Nagy, PJ Harvey or Pink, and I daresay you might get your ass handed back to you on a plate.