Being a fan of the goings-on inside the business of television, one of my favorite Internet resources over the years has been NewsBlues. This is a very comprehensive and somewhat irreverent chronicle of events in the TV News business.
The “Surly Editor” collects anonymous tips and news links from other sources to develop a truly insider-based (and humorously biased) look at how this business works, or doesn’t; how stations deal with crisis, or don’t; and how as in many fields of endeavor, one carefully placed e-mail or phone call can bring down a house of cards masquerading as a management team.
Like the slick sets, flashy computer graphics, and what Bono once termed “the miracle of Chroma key“, there is a significant amount of vanity at work in TV News. One wonders after reading some of the stories how many real-life versions of Ron Burgundy are still out there.
NewsBlues covers stuff from even the smaller TV markets, and Grand Junction is far from immune. A search from the home page for “KREX” or any of the local station call letters brings up numerous entries dating back several years. The KREX Fire was covered in significant detail, with tidbits of insider information not readily available via the usual media sources.
The site had a rather tumultuous beginning, a temporary hiatus, and has now developed an effective formula that sustains it to this day. Their history page is a very intriguing read, and includes the following:
We have watched the unhealthy transformation of TV news: the steady shift to shallow tabloid content; the casting aside of older, experienced talent; the headlong pursuit of younger demographics; the drive to build newsrooms on ethnically-balanced quotas and newscasts on research-driven formulas; the abandonment of investigative journalism out of fear of litigation; the proliferation of 24-hour cable news and its need to fill time with opinion; the politicalization of news and the loss of balance; and the increasingly intense focus on the bottom line and the never-ending push to “do more with less.”
Along with the insider exploits is a grammar section, which in a lot of media markets is starting to become more of a necessity than just a handy reference.
There is, of course, a catch. The site is subscription-only. However, the owner opens the site for complimentary access when they are on vacation and are not updating the site with regular weekday frequency. So if you’re interested, you have until this coming Sunday the 17th to look over the site for free, glean any tidbits of wisdom you can, and basically enjoy what appears to be a much more entertaining look behind the cameras than Mary Tyler Moore could ever have shown.
Like they say, some of this stuff just couldn’t be made up.