The posts you see on www.CohenConnect.com are simply my thoughts on this world of ours. Very little is planned. It’s usually whatever I’m thinking about at a particular moment, maybe looking at it from near or watching it on the news from afar. We may agree or disagree, or change each others’ minds.
Your best chance at that is a comment in the box on the bottom of every post, and your best chance not to miss anything is to subscribe at the bottom of every page and get an email every time I post. I also put links to some posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest – plus a few more on social media sites like Tumblr go up automatically – to let non-subscribers know there’s something new.
I retagged this blog, “These are the times to remember” (Billy Joel lyrics pluralized), realizing most of what I write is an important memory on my mind, at least important enough to write about, that shouldn’t be forgotten. Here, we have a place and your two cents in the comments section can go a long way. (Plus, I update a lot there!)
ABOUT ME: I’ve been an award-winning TV/Web news producer up and down the east coast, and also an elementary school teacher. In other words, I spent years helping people get information as a journalist, and children get an education as their teacher. In both fields, I figured out the results I wanted meant attention to detail, and going the extra mile by maintaining contact, following up and not leaving until the job was done right.
In addition, I earned a Google IT Support Professional Certificate in Dec., 2018, for completing the five courses – everything from fundamentals to bits and bytes, operating systems, system administration and security.
Computer technology has helped me for years in every field. I couldn’t blog without it!
In fact, since I had a classroom website, my principal decided I should (make one for the school and) be the school’s electronic grade book manager. That meant helping the other teachers when we transitioned from actual grade books on paper, to entering attendance and grades on the computer. It also meant staying late eight times a year, printing quarterly progress reports and report cards for the whole school, and separating them for every teacher. (My reward was not being affected by those all-too-common schoolwide computer ink and paper shortages!)
But of course, I couldn’t do any job without IT professionals, wherever I was working, to help whenever the computer got stubborn. (That’s my nice way of putting it.)
There’s a saying the news is like crack. That’s because working in the field is a hard habit to quit.
I started out in the industry taking in video feeds at WSVN in Miami, the TV station closest to where I grew up. That was on April 4, 1994. I made the minimum wage, which was $4.25 an hour, and didn’t get benefits for more than a year, but great things were happening. (I also lived at home, and my mother made my meals and did my laundry. That definitely helped!)
Over three years, I worked my way up to story writer and newscast producer, and then moved on to WFSB in Connecticut, and WCAU and KYW-TV in Philadelphia. I put together newscasts covering the most important stories of the day. I helped decide how they were covered, then led teams collaborating on all the necessary jobs, and eventually discussed last-minute changes based on video, live shots, writing and other production needs.
Some of those stories were the O.J. Simpson trial, the Miami ValuJet crash, Elián González, President Clinton’s impeachment, JFK Jr.’s deadly plane crash, 9/11, a lot of elections, and many infamous hurricanes.
I really loved Philadelphia, but family brought me back to Florida. I bought a condo on South Beach, and learned to produce news, graphics and contests on websites for CBS’ WFOR-Miami, sister-station WBFS-Miami (UPN), and former sister-station WTVX-West Palm Beach (UPN/WB).
I returned to Florida precisely before brushes and hits from major storms like Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne (2004), and Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma (2005, the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history). That season actually ended in Jan., 2006, and the final six storms had the names of Greek letters – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta – because the original list of names ran out! Our website broke video records as people around the world watched our
newscasts ’ (actually, our around-the-clock, 24/7 coverage) live stream.
I was lucky, enjoying hard work at all hours (even one Yom Kippur afternoon, without eating, going in with the possibility my information could potentially save a life) and suffering no more damage than a cracked windshield from a tree branch at the station.
Then, I reinvented myself and used news producing skills to teach 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade elementary school classes, and perform extracurricular responsibilities like the school’s website for eight years. I earned my teaching certification, and added endorsements in Gifted and English for Speakers of Other Languages. I was Rookie Teacher of the Year and later Teacher of the Year. I’m proud of that and enjoyed much of it, but won’t do it again.
Remember, I mentioned missing the news. After a much-needed break, I took a Digital Media Manager opportunity at WCYB in a foreign culture – the Tri-Cities of Tennessee and Virginia, “not the Bible Belt but the buckle” – where the experience and mountain scenes were great but the area seemed so small and spread out.
I wrote for the web with Lakana’s Content Management System. It’s CMSs that get everything – the writing, pictures, links and more – onto the web. I published articles and video, and publicized them on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In fact, I decided to start this blog using WordPress.
My time at WCYB was when I realized how much newsgathering technology had changed since my last TV job. Also, the people coming out of college to be producers, reporters, photographers and editors (not to mention multimedia journalists, or MMJs, who drive out and do the last three, all by themselves!) were trained in everything AND young enough to be my kids! Luckily, experience counts for something, so we were able to complement each other.
It was probably the best job – being a department of one within the newsroom, meeting with the general manager and other department heads every day – but Philadelphia called, and I thought long and hard, and returned.
Philadelphia is a huge city with dozens of neighborhoods. There’s a lot more than the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historic areas and museums!
I helped produce the website and Facebook pages at Fox’s WTXF for 15 months and eight days. (That’s May 2, 2016 through Aug. 10, 2017, but who’s counting?)
Despite that last statement, since I worked from early morning well into the afternoon, I was a major part of the team that brought WTXF-Fox 29 closer to beating the highest-rated station in the country, WPVI-6ABC, on social media. That was until my departure, halfway through the 3rd quarter of 2017. This is the evidence, showing how we did while I worked there, and how differently they performed after I left, along with my commentary you won’t want to miss.
There were other successes: I met several nice, capable people; worked with some I’d worked with once or even twice before; and learned a lot about the industry but also what large corporations had become, since I hadn’t worked for one in many years. I prefer when “The buck stops here,” as Harry Truman used to say. Things work better when decisions can be made in-house rather than relying on other people on different schedules at different stations in different cities.
Unfortunately, I had to write too many over-the-top articles on shootings, crashes and fires on a daily basis – and that’s when I was doing actual journalism! Otherwise, I had to search the competition, European tabloids and other places for feature stories and write them in nauseatingly emotional ways on Facebook so people couldn’t help but click, despite such little value.
But I was happy the job got me back to the place I considered home.
So that’s my story.
In the meantime, temporarily turned off by news, I’d been considering possibilities in information technology, along with my interest in financial planning.
I learned financial planning is really no more than sales, which I won’t do. That’s not the way to help working people in the nation’s poorest large city who need valuable information get ahead.
As for IT, I wouldn’t want to work by phone on a help desk, and wouldn’t feel confident enough working professionally without a hands-on mentor. The entry-level positions I’ve read seem beyond my skill set.
News is where my heart is. I spent a few months reporting at Philadelphia Gay News, but was left feeling unsatisfied due to ownership hardly caring about the online audience and in no rush to properly staff the newspaper since it’s a weekly. But I got out and reported, and took on the role of social media specialist, showing people will click and read if you tease properly and offer quality information.
I’m proud I’ve done pretty well and was fortunate enough to take time off in between gigs, when making important decisions. Very few people get chances like that.
Now, I miss the adrenaline and excitement, and I’m looking for a chance to cover the news whenever it happens – and be part of the team that can beat the competition on all platforms, in accuracy, speed and audience.
Again, be sure to subscribe on the side or bottom of every CohenConnect.com page, to get an email whenever I publish. You’ll see some old and new work – what I choose to read and write about, uncensored – and relive experiences from over the past few decades.
You can also read what I’ve been thinking about on my Twitter feed, @feedbaylenny, which is published on this site. See my other social media accounts at the bottom-right of every page on desktop, and near the bottom on mobile.
Saving the best for last: Besides work and other interests, I’m uncle to Preston, Logan, Betzalel, Noam, Tali (and later Ayelet); and dad to cats Casey and Frisky!
Enjoy, and feel free to comment on relevant topics. There are opportunities below each post.