Tag Archive: Michael Aron

NJTV Bias

Has anyone noticed that NJTV’s nightly newscast has started to assume a pro-Christie bias? On tonight’s newscast, anchor Mary Alice Williams referred to the recently submitted budget as a “behemoth.” Even more egregious, when starting a conversation with veteran State House correspondent Michael Aron about Christie’s pending announcement for a presidential run, she said, “Michael, you have good news, er – some news about the governor?” (emphasis mine).

A Christie presidential run would be good news for NJTV’s reporters and all of their state house colleagues. They would get exposure as “experts” on national television news shows. Personally, I have an issue with the practice of reporters interviewing reporters on TV, but overtly calling a Christie presidential run “good news” is over the top.

Who made Chris Cillizza’s list of Best State Reporters for NJ?

Chris Cillizza, who runs the Washington Post column The Fix likes to make lists of bests. Blue Jersey’s been named both as one of the best state political blogs and among the best state-based political tweeters for @BlueJersey.

Today, Cillizza picked his list of Best State Political Reporters.

Michael Aron, NJTV @MichaelAronNJTV

Mark Bonamo, PolitickerNJ @markjbonamo

Josh Dawsey, Wall Street Journal @jdawsey1

Heather Haddon, Wall Street Journal @heatherhaddon

Melissa Hayes, Bergen Record @Record_Melissa

Matt Katz, WNYC Radio @mattkatz00

Dave Levinsky, Burlington County Times davidlevinsky

John Reitmeyer, Bergen Record @johnreitmeyer

Congrats to all, it’s a nice resumé-builder. Special tip of the hat to The Record, whose reporters’ work on the evolving Christie scandals has been essential. And to Matt Katz, who has made watching Chris Christie into a brand.

Of course, while you’re following all these folks, we also hope you’ll follow @BlueJersey.  

CD3 GOP Primary: Steve Lonegan & Tom MacArthur face off on NJTV (video)

CD3 Republicans Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur, carpetbaggers smelling opportunity both, faced off this weekend on NJTV with the sober grownup Michael Aron refereeing. The long knives come out early, with fireworks starting at around minute 12.

They call each other liars. “Callous.” Lonegan accuses his opponent of insurance fraud, and calls him a “liberal.” MacArthur accuses Lonegan of being a terrible landlord, and a loser. A couple of things from Lonegan are especially revolting; his apparent feeling about diversity, and his let-’em-stay-homeless position on Sandy aid that probably don’t go down well down in CD3. As a friend described it, it’s all them but with an extra dose of the crazy.

On the other side, Aimee Belgard looks to breeze through a primary against Howard Kleinhendler. I’ll let you find the GOP websites on your own if you want.

Click to access video.

Chris Christie Evades Reporters Who Ask Him About Controversial “Boy” Comment

Gov. Chris Christie likes to position himself as a blunt truth-teller. But he’s considerably less interested in answering for himself when his usual tight control of message goes awry, as it did last week in Paterson.

When you ask me questions, I’m going to answer them directly, straightly, bluntly, and nobody in New Jersey is going to have to wonder where I am on an issue.

                     –  Gov. Chris Christie, May, 2010 (Star-Ledger video)

Governor. Governor, do you regret using the word “boy” in Paterson last week? Can we just get a comment, Governor?

             – Michael Aron, as Christie ignored, walked away from questions (NJTV video)

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

NJTV – Not as Crappy as I Thought

I was a big fan of NJN, the state-funded television and news network that Governor Christie gave to his cronies last June. So, like others, I held the station’s new incarnation, NJTV, to the same high standards that its predecessor followed.

What I liked about NJN, and what I expected from NJTV was:

1. Balanced reporting

2. In depth (live) coverage of important legislative proceedings

3. Professional-quality television

I was disappointed on all three fronts.  

How the Democrats and NJTV Can Improve

Watching the NJTV coverage of Governor Christie’s State of the State Address was like watching a train wreck. It’s no surprise that the station, run by Christie’s Adubato clan, made this broadcast just the opening salvo in the governor’s re-election campaign.

Of course, Christie is an excellent orator. That’s part of his appeal to the average voter. But it’s NJTV’s job to inform the average voter, not to provide an unchecked platform for the governor. And the Democrats are just abettors in this process.

NJTV: a true Category 5 Shitstorm.

NJTV’s takeover of NJN always seemed fishy. Turns out, that foul stench has real consequences, especially in times of crisis.

As we take measure of Hurricane Irene, the most expensive natural disaster in New Jersey’s history, it has never been clearer just how colossal a failed broadcasting experiment the NJN/NJTV takeover has been.

If you tuned into NJTV (the state’s only public TV station) on Saturday evening for news of Irene’s pending wrath, you encountered a rerun about memory loss.

As the storm made landfall on Cape May? The Lawrence Welk Show.

Finally, while Hoboken was being deluged, NJTV was serving up Masterpiece Theater. (You get the picture….)

Simply put, NJN would have treated Hurricane Irene like the crisis it’s been. And covered it accordingly.

Not so NJTV. A shell of its former self on substance, NJTV has become a veritable cult of personality in service to Steve Adubato Jr, the station’s shameless self-promoter-in-chief. Apparently being the scion of the state’s most venerable political sugar daddy has its privileges. It’s just a pity that the stations sucks so badly as a result.

But this isn’t simply a critique of NJTV whose universally-panned lineup speaks for itself.

Nor is it about NJ Governor Chris Christie who hatched the demise of NJN to begin with. (The GOP has never been shy about their desire to destroy Public Broadcasting. It’s part of their philosophical raison d’etre.)

Can’t blame the Teh Blogs, BlueJersey was sounding alarm bells early and loudly.

This falls squarely on the four Democrats who allowed this takeover to happen.

NJ Media Is Dead. Long Live NJ Media.

The demise of NJN has been a major bum-out, especially for political junkies; many of have come to see the station’s Jersey-centric coverage as more than essential for the little state caught between two huge media markets, but lacking a cohesive TV landscape of it’s own. To be sure, mainstays like Michael Aron’s On The Record and Reporters Roundtable will be sorely missed, as they have come to serve important functions for NJ’s political watchers and doers.

But let’s take a deep breath – because as a medium, television is both hurting and evolving; when it comes to news, even more so. What once used to be a time-sensitive ritual of getting in front of the TV set in time to watch one’s favorite show has ceded ground to the Internet, smartphones, time-shifted viewing and more. And while TV broadcasters used to be unique in their ability to create and spread content far and wide, that’s just not the case any more.

So in the spirit of making crisis into opportunity, let’s hope that the many talented, dedicated, insightful and resourceful folks who served this state so well for so long are able to find a path forward that keeps their important work alive while adapting to changes in the media landscape. Let’s see podcasts, and streaming feeds and social networking and stuff no one has yet invented. It’s not just an opportunity to pick up the pieces and try to find a way to move on – it’s a chance to flex with the times, grow and ultimately become better. Sure, there will always be those media consumers who are married to their TVs, but their ranks are dwindling and will ultimately disappear. So no, it’s never going to be the same as it was. But change – no matter how much it may suck at the time – can be good. And when it comes to media for New Jersey, by New Jersey, perhaps the best is yet to come. (And who knows? Maybe 20 people can do the work of 200 like the governor says. Also, maybe the sun will turn purple and put on sunglasses.)

Alternate, less saccharine ending: Governor Christie and those like him (Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc.) would like nothing more than to silence any outlet that might threaten their agenda of privatization and greater corporate control of American society. That includes New Jersey. Then consider the analog newspapers, and the increasingly choppy waters they must negotiate. It becomes simple, and something we all already know, because we’re living it: the traditional media landscape which defined the past has changed, and will continue to change, dramatically. And whoever is most flexible and adaptive to these changes will likely retain an indomitable edge when it comes to reaching people, and trying to convince them that your ideas are better than the other guy’s.

Better stay sharp.