Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
I expected the worst when I heard ABC and NBC were going to do in-depth examinations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a life long Mormon and journalist, I had gotten used to the media clouding their reporting on the LDS Church.
ABC used good judgement by not showing video of the sacred Mormon garments, NBC did not use that same discretion.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy and context with which the reporting was done.
ABC's Dan Harris did a two-part series that was simply factual about the LDS Church. No frills or opinions, just the facts about the Church. He focused on the temples and showed video of the inside of a temple yet to be dedicated in Brigham City, Utah. He accurately portrayed the history of persecution inflicted on members of the Church 150 years ago. It was very well done and kudos to Harris for his reporting.
NBC did a full hour with Brian Williams on Rock Center focusing on the LDS Church. They mentioned some of the controversial aspects of the Church, but for the most part, did it fairly. In a conversation with Abbey Huntsman (who is a former Mormon and daughter of former Republican candidate for President Jon Huntsman) Williams talked about how he would like to be able to walk into a Mormon temple and see what was inside, as he could with any other church, but they failed to mention that Mormon churches are open to anybody who wants to go inside, temples are not. It's a minor point, but the distinction between a church and a temple in the LDS faith should've been made.
NBC's special focused on the service within the faith and how that shapes people's lives. Harry Smith pointed out the welfare services that are second-to-none and how Mormons take care of their own and also serve those outside the Church. You couldn't watch this segment without thinking this would be a great model for the nation.
I thought NBC did a great job explaining how serving an LDS mission shapes the lives of members of the Church. You learn to serve, you learn to love others, you learn to sacrifice, and when you live outside America for 2 years, you learn to love this country and you forever have a unique perspective of the world. I served in Ireland when I was 19 years old and so much of that experience has defined my life. Mitt Romney's experience in France in the late 60's is a large part of who he is. When Romney talks about his concern of America taking on the negative aspects of European socialism, he knows of what he speaks, and he can explain it in French if he needs to.
The media may do hit pieces on the LDS Church between now and November 6th to attack a potential Romney presidency, but for the most part, their coverage this week has been fair and should be applauded.
Follow Ron Futrell on Twitter @RonFutrell
Sunday, August 5, 2012
I almost....almost could not believe what I was seeing. ABC Good Morning America anchors celebrating the"Crip Walk."
Oh, I understand funny, silly, happy-talk news, but this was over the top.
I'm guessing you don't have to be a brilliant ABC news anchor to know what the 'Crip Walk" is, you could probably figure it out on your own, but I will tell you. It's a dance made popular by deadly Los Angeles gang members in the bloody, decades long battle between Crips and Bloods in the Southland. Hundreds die every year in this senseless battle that has destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.
Bianna Golodryga laughed and joked about Serena Williams doing the "Crip Walk" after winning Olympic Gold in women's tennis. Golodryga called it, "one of my favorite moments....a joyful little dance, I believe they call this crip-walking." She then performed part of the dance while on set. What's next Bianna, flashing gang signs? Dan Harris then joked that the weather gal might do "a little bit of a crip walk" after she gets a weather cast right. Yuck, yuck, yuck, yo, yo, yo.
Maybe this is an East Coast, West Coast thing. Perhaps news anchors in New York don't get out west very often and when they do, they stay in Malibu. Having grown up in LA I spent a lot of time living and working in East LA and South Central, I knew the moves and signs of gangsters. But still, when it's called the "Crip Walk" you should have a pretty good idea what it means. If not, use Google.
Crip-walking was banned in LA high schools because of what it symbolized. Even MTV banned its use and refused to show music videos where rappers were crip-walking. Oh, Bianna, it's also called, "hopscotching on crack" by teenagers. If performed in the wrong neighborhood it could cause a fight, or much worse. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
Serena Williams did what she did, she's from Compton, and that's how she chose to celebrate, I'm not here to critique that, I'm only looking at the media reaction. ABC News does not have to glorify it or joke about it. It is a gang sign, it is not a "joyful little dance." My only question; was ABC News ignorant, or did they know what this was and joke about it anyway? I'm hoping it was just ignorance. What's next week, a blue bandana?
Thursday, August 2, 2012
The news was not unexpected, but still mildly painful.
The TV station where I had anchored sports and news for 25 years was dropping its sports department. Anchors will now read the sports with the same passion they do a hatchet murder, or a panda being born at the local zoo, and the viewers will get used to it (please pronounce Mark Teixeira's name right.) Perhaps they will.
Certainly, media is changing and some have called this a trend in the business. Consultants (who are usually failed news directors) have told us for years they want to attract females and since they believe women do not like sports, they must lessen the importance of sports, or kill it altogether. You could argue against that premise (which I did) until you were Dodger Blue in the face, but you would never win that argument and eventually management will find somebody who would just shut up and fill the three-minute segment (cut to 2:30 if weather went long.)
The news of removing the sports department did cause me to reflect on more than 2 decades of covering sports in Las Vegas and developing a bond with this community that will never be broken. It's been 4 years since I've done full time news on TV, but I still have people come up to me and think I'm the sports guy. "Hey, good job last night on the sports." I usually smile and say thanks.
I feel fortunate to have covered big-time sports during some great times in Las Vegas. I covered the careers of Randall Cunningham, Andre Agassi, Greg Maddux, Mike Tyson and many others. There were the great boxing events with Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, and Duran. I got to cover the rise of NASCAR and the UFC in Las Vegas, and was green-side for Tiger Woods' first win on the PGA Tour. The first month I was in Las Vegas I covered Kareem Abdul Jabbar setting the all-time NBA scoring record at the Thomas and Mack. Whew! Nice way to break-in back in April 1984. I was no Hunter S. Thompson, but covering the Mint 400 in the glory days of off-road racing was a dirty job long before the days of "Dirty Jobs." I was fortunate to cover World Series', Super Bowls, and NBA Finals.
Certainly, the rise and fall of UNLV basketball was a story that few got to report on up-close. 3 Final Fours in 5 years and then the internal struggle where a university president worked covertly to use the media to remove a coach (Jerry Tarkanian) because he did not have the courage to fire him. Who can forget "Cam Scam" when university officials put a camera in an air conditioning duct in the North Gym to try to catch a violation? I am most proud of covering this story straight up and honestly and my commentaries have stood the test of time. Nothing united this community more than Rebel Basketball, nothing tore it apart worse than the subsequent battles. Those were big, historic stories from 20 years ago that are still being talked about today. Often sports was called upon to lead newscasts because the stories were that big.
What I enjoyed most was the time I spent at local high schools and ball fields covering the youth of this valley and getting to know them through their sports exploits. Sure, it was fun interviewing future NFL star Steven Jackson as he barreled over opponents at Eldorado High, but doing the first, and likely the only interview ever with a Bonanza High tennis player was always rewarding. My former station let me cover grass-roots local sports unlike any other station in town and I will always appreciate that and it had great rewards.
Occasionally we did some serious journalism. There was the time a UNLV Athletic Director was using racist talk in open staff meetings. I uncovered the story and "broke" the story. Other media outlets followed but we reported this story first and did it under the risk of legal action. We were right and we broke a story that needed to be told.
We made a lot of money with our sports department. I was trusted to produce and host hour-long shows that were highly profitable. We did NASCAR and IRL race shows, Thunder hockey shows, UNLV shows and there was the local sports show we did for 5 years following Monday Night Football, titled Monday Night Quarterback. How about this show from the late 80's that we did from Hawaii introducing a UNLV basketball team in embryo that would later win a National Championship?Aloha Rebels. These were the combined efforts of a lot of people who had passion in the projects. They were a lot of work, and a lot of fun and I believe were the essence of what a good sports department does.
What the future brings with local TV sports is hard to say. If media is one thing, it is chaning. UNLV basketball is making a comeback and Dave Rice is on his way to returning this program to national prominence. Las Vegas will have a major league professional sports team before this decade is out and viewers will want to hear from somebody who knows these sports. I thank my former station for giving me the resources and trusting me to cover sports as it deserved to be. It's also my opinion local TV news viewers (male and female) will seek stations that give them sports with flair, fun and accuracy. I'm guessing consultants don't want to hear me say that anymore.