Two articles got my attention as I recover, tonight. You’ll remember yesterday, I couldn’t read or even think.
Now, look how far I’ve come — and for how many hours!
The first, called How Facebook Can Grow Its Media ‘Likes’Â by Harry A. Jessell on TVNewsCheck continues the discussion I wrote on Rupert Murdoch saying Mark Zuckerberg should pay him and other reliable news publishers for posting its content on Facebook. (See? I agree with something Jessell wrote!)
The smart people, myself included this time, have been saying media organizations should get readers to their own sites and other media they control, and not be a slave to Zuckerberg’s whims.
My favorite line from the article?
“The move is a slap at news media that have fully embraced Facebook, hiring people to manage interaction with it, building workflows around it and searching for ways to monetize it.”
I love it! Shows Lenny was right and his last employer was wrong! (I mean the parent company and that’s if there was any doubt. Murdoch’s Fox TV Stations Group finds Facebook very, very important. Of course the company wants money after investing so much time and labor into it, but that was their choice and they weren’t alone.)
The other article comes from what many would consider a gossip site but I investigated further, since it used a tweet from WTXF-Fox 29 in Philadelphia, where I used to work.
FTVLive‘s Scott Jones showed a tweet from midday Wednesday of a man with what you might call distinguishable, unique characteristics. It was obviously to make fun of the guy, or more likely his choices in life.
Having worked for a Fox-owned TV station, rather than an affiliate, I can tell you web editors pretty much put local stories on the web. They also try to find articles from out of the area that will get clicked. What usually happens is that one station — whether it happened in their area or not — writes it and offers to share it with the other stations, which may choose to accept it or not. If they accept it, then they can tease it on social media or not.
From my experience at a Fox-owned TV station, the web editors are responsible for teasing on Facebook and the assignment editors — who listen to police scanners, call to confirm information, talk to reporters, make suggestions, coordinate live shots on the ground and with the (shared) chopper, and take calls from people who belong in padded cells, etc. — also are responsible for tweeting out information that’s local or happens to be on the website. In the case of local news, it takes away from talking to newscast producers and web producers, but that’s a different story for a different day.
So FTVLive‘s post got me thinking: How many other Fox-owned stations did the same thing? Let’s look, in TV market size.
This is Philadelphia’s, that was shown…
This was Washington’s…
This was Houston’s…
This was Phoenix’s…
And this was Austin’s.
These are the facts:
- The tweets were posted from Jan. 23 through Jan. 25.
- The story happened in Ohio. It didn’t belong to any of the Fox-owned stations. They don’t own any stations in Ohio! They used to own WJW-Channel 8 in Cleveland, but sold it, but may soon buy it back. (See below.) That shows you how much they really care for the community, doesn’t it?
- The Philadelphia people may tell you Ohio is only one state away, but it’s really more than 300 miles away. Police actually thought Cleveland Facebook killer Steve Stephens may have been in Pennsylvania. Not here. The story happened near Cincinnati, on the complete opposite side of Ohio, across the river from Kentucky.
- The guy in the pictures above, Michael Mann, isn’t wanted anymore because he was CAUGHT and booked into jail on Thursday, Jan. 25, and arraigned in court on Friday, Jan. 26. He’s being held in lieu of $200,000 bond.
Was this hard to find out? Absolutely not. (Most of) Cincinnati’s TV station websites had it. Click here for the Queen City’s NBC affiliate WLWT, CBS affiliate WKRC and Fox affiliate WXIX (owned by Raycom).
A phone call made by anybody at any of the Fox-owned stations could’ve confirmed this for more than a dozen stations but nobody cared enough to follow up. Looking at a crazy dude for a day and get clicks was all they wanted. Certainly not journalism. Certainly nothing that mattered to the viewers in their cities.
By the way, I could not find the story on websites belonging to Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO, headquarters of its owner Scripps, or the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.
So you saw some tweets. Now to the article.
It was written by somebody in TAMPA of all places, and almost every Fox-owned station accepted the share and it’s now published verbatim on their websites, headline and all.
Click to check the articles are identical, again by TV market order, with an exception I’ll explain in a second.
Los Angeles Chicago Philadelphia Dallas Washington Houston Tampa Phoenix Detroit Minneapolis Orlando Charlotte Austin
I couldn’t find the article on San Francisco nor Atlanta’s sites. Maybe they didn’t accept the share. Maybe they had real news that concerned their communities. Maybe they just missed it. (Yes, Mann is a hard man to miss, but the stations only see the headlines without pictures.) You’ll have to ask them for their reasons.
Notice a few things about the article. The headline talks about the guy and at this point, doesn’t mention wanted or caught. But the lead says, “An Ohio man is wanted…!” Item #4 above explained he’d already been caught.
Then, the article was updated at the bottom with an embedded Facebook post from Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Crime Stoppers. First, that should’ve been the LEAD. Second, the person in Tampa who wrote it (or was called by another station to write it because the other stations were technically not able) should’ve realized the lead written earlier said he was still wanted! And third, nobody from any of the other stations in all these big cities even bothered to notice!
For a moment, I was VERY impressed and surprised with New York for actually rewriting the article. The did so a day later. Unfortunately, they never mentioned anywhere that he was caught!
My “favorite” part is the special phone number at the end for any New Yorkers who happened to be traveling to the Cincinnati area to call if they run into this guy. Wouldn’t most see him and automatically call 911?
As you can imagine, I’m disgusted with my former field. I’ve been saying…
“I didn’t leave journalism, but journalism left me.”
…to several people recently, and I’ll have more to write about — not necessarily this specific company — in the coming days.
I’m not saying other TV station groups don’t do the same thing, but earlier I mentioned this started by seeing “a man with what you might call distinguishable, unique characteristics” on “what many would consider a gossip site,” and then went on a wild goose chase. Look what I caught!
Who knows how often something like this happens? Fox people — corporate and/or local — am I right or wrong? Are you serving the public interest? Comment below.
One last thing: So Fox is big when it comes to sharing. It costs little. Next week, the Federal Communications Commission may let Sinclair Broadcast Group buy Tribune Media but force Sinclair to sell off a bunch of stations because it’ll be (way, way, way) too big.
Reports are Fox will buy ten of those stations. That means, as I wrote earlier this month about the company:
Cleveland, are you listening?
And also from earlier this month, don’t expect a list of Fox-owned TV stations on the Fox Television Stations Group‘s website, no matter how many times I put up the link. That would be too relevant!
LAZY and STUPID: Nonprofit posts YouTube video showing at least 11 TV stations blindly aired the same exact script and edited video package – produced by Amazon’s PR team about its fulfillment centers! https://www.adweek.com/tvspy/stations-run-same-exact-amazon-package-about-fufillment-centers-during-covid-19/221788/
“Is Fox 29 becoming Fox News?” That’s what some employees say: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2020/07/21/fox-29-philadelphia-fox-news-conservative/
California voters passed a ballot measure that’ll toughen their state’s privacy law. It’ll be harder for Facebook and Google to use third parties to track people, and gather data for advertising. https://smartnews.link/w/sZkx