Tag Archive: news

Chris Christie’s Slow Jam – Hello, NBC News?

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.”    

John F. Kennedy (you know, he got the guts of that quote somewhere else)

Absolutely. Brilliant. Bullshit. On Christie’s part. Shame on Jimmy Fallon and NBC for inviting him to popularize propagandize Christie’s self-serving special election timetable as some kind of civic responsibility to serve “the people”. Repeat it often enough …

You see, if Jimmy had just gone down the hall and talked to NBC News, they’ve already reported that this isn’t about “the people” for Christie. Nope.

How’s NJTV Doing?

NJTV, the only state-wide television network, rose out of the ashes of the highly-acclaimed state-funded New Jersey Network (NJN) in mid-2010. As a news junkie and amateur pundit, I’ve been a loyal watcher of NJTV’s 6 PM newscast.

Despite the fact that the level of funding for state-wide news has gone down significantly since the demise of NJN, I’m happy that the quality of the newscasts is getting better, albeit with much more room for improvement. Anchor Mike Schneider is an excellent interviewer and he usually presents a neutral tone on even the most contentious issues in Trenton. The extended interviews with New Jersey’s movers and shakers are something that no other outlet (except Blue Jersey) currently provides across the state. The network has invested in state-of-the-art equipment that enables it to report from remote sites over conventional telephone circuits, giving reporters the opportunity to go where the news happens. The major challenge that NJTV News faces is a small staff of reporters and technical people. With all that’s happening in the state, they can’t cover as much breaking news as they should.

Of course, the nightly newscast has to compete with other news outlets like the New York and Philadelphia commercial stations, the Internet, radio, and dead-tree newspapers. A recent poll conducted by Monmouth University reported that only 25% of the New Jerseyans they questioned had watched NJTV News in 2012, down from a high of 59% who had watched its predecessor, NJN, in 1999. But when Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray asked about the quality of the newscasts, the story was a bit different. “While there has been a significant drop in the visibility and brand identity of New Jersey’s public television outlet since the transfer to NJTV, the net impact on perceived quality has been negligible for most residents”, reported Murray.

The quality and quantity of the news reported on NJTV run rings around that of the commercial stations. Recently, researchers from Seton Hall University spent five weeks watching all of the local newscasts on NJTV and the highest-rated New York and Philadelphia commercial stations, WNBC and WPVI respectively. While NJTV devotes 81% of its 30-minute time slot to straight news, WPVI devotes only 50% and WNBC devotes a mere 42%. Also, 89% of the stories on NJTV were devoted to New Jersey news, while the numbers for WPVI and WNBC were 24% and 17%. The Seton Hall team also noted that the stories on the commercial stations emphasized crime, while NJTV’s coverage was more toward politics and government.

The reports from these two institutions are chock full of more statistics, but the bottom line is that despite Governor Christie’s evisceration of a New Jersey institution 18 months ago, and despite the fact that one of the Governor’s cheerleaders, Steve Adubato, is a principal in the new organization, the news division is improving. And while the ownership of the station is out of the state’s hands, the state still holds the broadcast licenses. So let’s keep NJTV’s feet to the fire – give credit when deserved, and speak out loudly and forcefully when we think it’s falling behind its mission to serve the citizens of New Jersey.

Below the fold: Nostalgia. The sign-off of NJN with Jim Hooker and Michael Aron

Amazing new Internet Archive tool

The Internet Archive has announced an incredible new service allowing you to search and borrow TV News coverage:

This service is designed to help engaged citizens better understand the issues and candidates in the 2012 U.S. elections by allowing them to search closed captioning transcripts to borrow relevant television news programs…

The collection now contains 350,000 news programs collected over 3 years from national U.S. networks and stations in San Francisco and Washington D.C.  The archive is updated with new broadcasts 24 hours after they are aired.  Older materials are also being added.

It’s too bad it doesn’t have Atlantic City, Philadelphia or New York broadcasts, but it’s still of interest. For fun, click here to see the results of a search for Rush Holt Jeopardy.  

The service isn’t perfect. For one thing, names like “Garrett” are common so there’s a lot of false hits. For another, it relies on the close captioning transcripts, and I found that “runyan” is a way to misspell both “Iranian” and “Romney.” Worst of all, many of our Representatives have a very low national profile so most hits are C-SPAN clips.

Still, I hope you check out the service and look for clips. It may help you learn about the candidates — or a good subject for a blog post.

You choose: Public TV analysis? Or Christie front office press release?

Earlier today, I remarked to a very smart woman that NJTV was actually going to cover the governor’s speech today – live, instead of cartoons. Of course they are, she replied drolly, it’s Christie.

Cover they did, live but without commentary. No intro or post-game commentary from Michael Aron or any of the other journalists in their stable. No savvy speculation on what Christie might say or context for today’s special session. Just a rrrrrip from prancing field mice to the big man striding into the chamber.  And a rrrrrip back to cartoons in the middle of Assembly Democrats discussing afterwards. There were some technical glitches – the feed bounced back and forth a few times from the Governor, to cartoons, to Christie, to cartoons. That’s forgivable. Funny, even.

NJTV is one year old. The handover that read like a gold-wrapped gift to the Adubato family is gelled. NJTV can no longer claim baby steps. Said Asm Patrick Diegnan, in a piece in Sunday’s Ledger: “It’s a wake, not an anniversary. Effectively, NJTV is dead. Nobody watches it.” Ouch.

We all have a stake in good coverage, in good journalism, and in the transparency that a network broadcasting deliberations, hearings, and speeches of electeds works toward. And in the accountability that can come with transparency. NJTV is better than its awful first months. But it’s still inadequate. And there’s not enough good journalism going on.

Take, for example, this coverage posted at their site of today’s speech. We don’t post articles in their entirety – you can read it here – but this is how it starts. I ask you – – does it sound like public TV analysis? Or Christie front office PR?

Christie Strikes Conciliatory Tone, Speaks of Bipartisanship in Pitch for Tax Cut



To a special joint session of the Senate and Assembly, Gov. Chris Christie used a gentler tone than the one he has used at town hall meetings to describe the Democratic-controlled legislature. He made an appeal to both chambers of the legislature to adopt his tax cut plan, arguing that giving New Jerseyans tax relief today would create jobs tomorrow.

For almost two thirds of the speech, the governor detailed and spoke glowingly of bipartisan accomplishments of the past two years. “We’ve done something pretty unprecedented, not just for New Jersey, but for our country,” said Christie.

Despite fierce disagreements, he touted the way both sides have compromised to get things done, which he says makes New Jersey a model for bipartisan leadership. “Washington, D.C. has been paralyzed because people talk at one another and not to one another. No one stops for a second to think about how what they fail to do today will lead to failure for our citizens tomorrow. Instead, it’s a constant fight to see who wins the next 24-hour news cycle.”

The Opinion Page and News

Do reporters and journalists read letters to the editor section of the paper and feel miserable?

A local newspaper printed letters in the past month calling the President’s policies socialist. Readers complain about Governor Christie’s Isreal trip being paid for by taxpayers. I read a letter today that said gas prices aren’t because of speculators, but the lack of off-shore drilling.

I understand people have opinions and those opinions may differ from mine. The name calling and flat out wrong information in these letters bother me.

Do editors feel like they’ve failed when they don’t dispel myths?

Do reporters question their abilities as writers when the information doesn’t get through? Do newspaper owners hate it when their own readers get information wrong?

They print these letters in the opinion page with no corrections or counter points. It makes me wonder if they just don’t care about the readers or the news.

Where’s Our Local NJ News Now? And Where Five Years From Now?

A just-released Pew Research national survey tells us a lot about how Americans are accessing local news, and it indirectly highlights problems we have in NJ. The survey looks at five news sources – TV, internet, newspapers, mobile phone and radio – and reports which sources people turn to for 16 categories of local news. Because of  the influence of NY and PA, our local news sources have always been weak. With the recent sale of NJ public TV and radio to out-of-state organizations, the situation is even more challenged. Unlike NY where half the population lives in one city, we are spread out in smaller numbers within hundreds of municipalities, which makes the economies of scale more difficult for print newspapers. Thus we need to rely more on the internet, and we can expect significant changes in the next five years.

Pew Research indicates that nationally,“While local TV news remains the most popular source for local information in America, adults rely on it primarily for just three subjects — weather, breaking news and to a lesser extent traffic.” With no commercial local stations, we have had to rely on a 30 minute weekday evening NJN broadcast.  Following Christie’s insistence on selling NJN, our new NJTV gets much less funding from state government, will have to rely on more donations and grants, and is owned by WNET in NY. The network got off to a rocky start in June, is understaffed, and still lacks a NJ-based studio. It continues the evening news program, has a new anchor and has rehired Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron. However, the network as a whole provides little NJ programming.  Although it will likely improve, it will remain under the influence of the much larger NY-centric WNET with its own financial difficulties. It appears unlikely that a major TV landline broadcaster would want to move from NY to NJ and generate local news here because NYC is the largest and most lucrative part of the NY/NJ/CT market. The same can be said for Philadelphia stations which are in the PA/NJ/DE market. Hence, in five years I would not expect any substantial change.  We will continue suffering with inferior local TV news.

According to Pew Research, “When asked about specific local topics, it turns out that many adults are quite reliant on newspapers and their websites for 11 of 16 categories including local government. Young adults were less concerned.” With already small markets in NJ for individual print newspapers, their decrease in circulation and advertising revenue have driven some out of business, forced retrenchment on survivors, and created the specter of a moribund industry. The hard copy paper is increasingly viewed as old-fashioned, out of date by the time it is read, ecologically bad, and not as accessible as other media.

Not surprisingly more people seek news from newspaper websites like NJ.com and NorthJersey.com. However, these websites depend on information generated on the ground by their papers’ reporters, and the websites have not found a formula to cover the costs. The Star Ledger is staking its success on an enlarged Trenton Bureau, seeking to become an even more dominant provider of state news to other papers and news sources. With the trend toward usage of the web, within five years hard copy papers will likely be a thing of the past and their internet counterparts will have to find sufficient ad and subscriber revenue to fill the void. Likely only one or two print papers will survive, and only one or two websites will offer the broad panoply of 16 state-wide news categories.

Read on for more about hyperlocals, mobile/tablet devices, and radio.

A Look Into the Future

TRENTON, NJ — December 10, 2016

In a stunning blow to the crumbling education “reform” movement, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that abolished the state’s system of using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers.

The court ordered the 546 teachers dismissed in June of 2014 to be reinstated with full back pay in addition to compensatory damages. The teachers had been judged to be “ineffective” under the state’s system, and had lost tenure rights before they were dismissed.

The unanimous decision states: “Rarely has this court seen a plan – governmental or otherwise – that so completely ignored accepted scientific research. It is astonishing that the Department of Education implemented a program of teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores when all the evidence showed that competent teachers would inevitably be fired under this plan.

“We’re obviously pleased, although it’s a shame this lawsuit ever had to happen,” said Atticus Finch, lawyer for the teachers who were dismissed. “All my clients ever wanted was to teach; all they’ve ever wanted during this entire episode is to return to the classroom. The children in their schools have missed out on years of good teaching for no good reason.”

For the cash-strapped state, the lawsuit not only means millions in liability; potentially, New Jersey could be on the hook for much more. Teachers who were denied merit pay on the basis of the same system have their own lawsuit pending; given today’s ruling, the state may face even more costly sanctions.

News Roundup: “Chris Christie’s Katrina”

Of all the many headlines in New Jersey blizzard news now gone national and international, “Chris Christie’s Katrina” – which I saw for the first time in APP-  is the most compelling. Some are funnier, some are even harsher. But “Chris Christie’s Katrina” reminds us of who put some ideas behind Christie, who protected Christie as he was coming up, and some of the darker implications of deconstructing government, its services and its obligations.

The ideology that disrespects government, while running government, is an off-putting concept, and one we were happy to shake off once we got George W. Bush out of office after 8 long years, and two miserable terms, only during the second of which did most Americans catch on to the destruction he was doing.

As George Bush helped jell the forming Christie, Grover Norquist helped form the jelling George W. Bush. And that is why the irresponsibility and detachment of Bush during Hurricane Katrina was so well defined: Grover Norquist had already spelled it out for us: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Does that kind of government reduction in force, with casual regard for the outcomes, sound familiar to you in New Jersey? Hurricanes, particularly Katrina, are not northeastern blizzards. That’s not the comparison being drawn. The detachment, the cluelessness, the lack of respect for constituents, the vacationing is the comparison being drawn. And like Katrina hurt Bush, this blizzard may impact how New Jerseyans think of their absent leader; after a year of news coverage of Gov. Christie as a phenom, a brash character, a leader among governors, a Teflon personage unmarred by screwups like massive botched education grants, Christie’s neglect should be compared to Bush’s. They’re very different personalities, and frankly our governor has way more on the ball than Bush, but the acorn doesn’t fall far.

We do a news roundup every day here (except, uh, when I  get stuck somewhere without wifi), with glowing coverage of Chris Christie. This week we saw something different, even after the troubling lack of transparency from Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak about LG Kim Guadagno’s whereabouts. Local NJ news became national news. Here’s a roundup of news coverage of Christie’s irresponsible week at Disney World, after the jump:

The Chicken Or The Egg?

No, I'm not referring to that terrific restaurant in Beach Haven, but a recent study that reveals the startling revelation that Fox “News” viewers are alarmingly uninformed.

Among the findings, Fox viewers:

  • 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
  • 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
  • 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
  • 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
  • 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
  • 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
  • 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
  • 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
  • 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

Of course none of this is news to most of the readers here. But I can't help but wonder, are Fox viewers blank slates, thirsting for knowledge, with no pre-conceived notions, or are they the already uninformed, looking for validation?

Which came first? 

From One Nation Rally 2-Oct