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?