Re¢ently

  1. NECN Replies, With Class.

    brian on 2004.04.16
    at 03:51 pm

    Well it's nice to see that a smaller network will reply, and quite quickly, to a concerned viewer. I received a note from their Station Manager shortly after emailing them the aforementioned rant.

    In the interests of equal time, their reply is below (formatting in context).

    Dear Brian, thanks for writing us. I am the News Director of NECN and have been for the past twelve years. I can assure you that Comcast's partial ownership of NECN has had no influence on our news coverage. Whenever we need to cover something regarding Comcast, we always reveal our ownership. It was not subtle but right up front before the piece aired. If you read the Boston Globe's article on the front page of their Business Page, you will find that they covered this story very similarly to our report. Indeed, we talked to an analyst from Forrester Research about the significant concerns of our industry regarding advertiser support for VOD. As to Satellite, yes, it can respond two say but limitations on bandwith make VOD impractical or impossible. You will not find VOD as a service on DBS anytime in the coming years. As to Giant Glass, I could not agree with you more. In fact, we are working with them on a new ad because we get so much feedback from viewers like you.  So, I want you to know that NECN will continue to adhere to our values of depth, context and quality.  We will not chase every car crash and fire as so many other local outlets do. We will take the time to tell stories well.  I'm sorry to hear you will not continue to watch NECN. I sincerely hope you find an alternative outlet that better serves your interests. With all best regards. Charles Kravetz, VP of News and Station Manager.

    My reply was as such (definitions added for the blog only, emphasis for formatting only, as well):

    Dear Charles,

    I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns.

    {Quote}Whenever we need to cover something regarding Comcast, we always reveal our ownership. It was not subtle but right up front before the piece aired.{End Quote}

    Correct, you did reveal it, but it was in passing, and not as up front as most stations do, when talking about their owners. In your case, the anchor read the disclaimer right inline in a sentence, "...Comcast, an owner of NECN, is introducing..." as opposed to, say, ABC's coverage of the Disney/Eisner episodes, where someone like Peter Jennings would introduce the piece. Pause (which I think is key, to set it apart from the rest of the introduction), and right before the video rolled, would say "Let it be noted that Disney is the parent company of ABC." Then the video would roll. In my opinion, your disclaimer was not obvious enough. In situations like these, which are becoming increasingly too common (NBC reporting on GE, CNN on anything Turner related, CBS on Viacom... my head is beginning to hurt), I think the disclaimers need to be very, very clear. It's murky waters to report on one's owners (how can one be unbiased, or disclose bad news about their owner? Would you report if VOD was shorting out people's TV sets?)

    {Quote}You will not find VOD as a service on DBS anytime in the coming years {End Quote}

    Personally, I don't see Comcast VOD as news-worthy. Perhaps the overall movement by media providers, cable and satellite to provide their customers with more control over their TV watching, that might be worth a story.

    This is what makes this whole story so murky to come from a Comcast subsidiary: What your report failed to mention, is that, no, VOD isn't coming to satellite soon, but DirectTV will basically give you a digital TiVO for a couple dollars a month extra, and then you can record, pause live tv, do anything, to any network, at anytime, and even store it as long as you want, without DirectTV or Hughes telling you which of the limited stations you can do this on. (same with other satellite providers)

    That's sounds a lot more flexible to me than VOD controlled by Comcast. But all your story said was "you won't find this on Satellite" which is true, but totally misleading. And then consider the source: a news network owned by, surprise! Comcast! So even if your parent didn't know you were airing this piece (and of course, they did, since you interviewed someone from there), to the viewers who realize the relationship, and know the full story, it looks fishy. TiVO is becoming a cultural phenomenon, and like Google, is become part of America's vocabulary. To not mention satellite's adoption of it, which is a direct answer to VOD, is not fair. Sounds like an ad for cable. Especially when Comcast advertises "You won't find NECN on Satellite." That's my problem with this story.

    In summary, if I were in your position, I wouldn't put my network into the position of reporting on its parent company, unless, like in the ABC situation, there's something big going on, that another network would also report.

    {Quote}As to Giant Glass, I could not agree with you more.{End Quote}

    This may single handedly win me back.

    Best,
    ~brian

    Posted in: Television

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  2. Comcast Takes NECN Down the Tubes

    brian on 2004.04.16
    at 02:43 pm

    Since moving to Boston, I have watched NECN for my morning news. When their owner was bought by Comcast, I was leery. I decided to keep watching until something happened to confirm my suspicions. That happened today. Below is my letter to NECN saying goodbye.

    NECN,
    I just finished watching your story on Comcast On-Demand. I am really, really disappointed. This isn't journalism, it's a flipping info-mercial for your owner. Your disclaimer at the beginning of the story was subtle to say the least. I had to use my TiVo to go back and see if it was even there. You even bashed on satellite providers, ("Their customers can't feedback, since the connection is one way" -- which isn't true, you have a phoneline connection to your provider) just like an actual Comcast advertisement. It's really sickening. You've lost all journalistic integrity, in my opinion.

    The only reason I watched NECN is because it's generally unhyped local news, plus I'm originally from Connecticut, so it's nice hear something about the rest of New England on top of the three murders in Boston today. Well, since your transfer to ownership by Comcast, my opinion is sliding. Basically, I was afraid of their influence on the content (that's THE reason I don't watch the CN8 channel), but until today, I found their influence minimal. Now it's gone too far, and I suppose its time to find a new local news source. Preferably one without Giant Glass commercials which make me scream and change the channel each time I see them. Someone should tell them their annoying commercials are sticking in potential customer minds, but when I needed glass work, I purposely *avoided* them, since they've made my mornings nearly unbearable with their "jingle."

    One last criticism, I hate that your show is taped and looped till noon. It should be live and change through the morning. But I guess that won't bother me anymore.

    One more lost viewer,

    ~brian

    Brookline, MA

    If you too are a disgruntled and now former viewer of NECN, they can be reached at feedback@necn.com.

    Posted in: Television

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  3. Some research on that last post.

    jake on 2004.04.16
    at 01:53 pm

    After Brian asked me what the heck was going on I started looking around for info on that "game." I traced it back to a Livejournal post. But after it the second post, the content changed, from Page 18 - Line 4, to Page 23 - Line 5.

    It's a Meme. From what I just read, it can be changed like when you're playing Porno Password, which might explain Elkins decision to change it. It sifted down through a bunch of people, of course, this is all text so it doesn't get skewed like just telling someone would, and got here.

    So since I don't remember where I saw it first, and I'd hate to ruin the fun, I'll just say that Andy told me.

    Posted in: Books · Rant

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  4. Page Twenty-three

    jake on 2004.04.16
    at 12:08 pm

    No one “told me to do this” as I keep seeing other authors say. I just noticed them all doing it, and after trying it came up with an interesting result, so I thought I’d share. The instructions are…

    1. Grab the nearest book
    2. Open the book at page 23
    3. Find the fifth sentence
    4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions
    If all else fails, tell the truth…

    This is from Stark by Ben Elton. I borrowed this from my distant cousins in Ireland. It’s a good book, I’m just having a hard time getting engrossed in it where I read for 6 hours straight and I’ve been trying to read it for almost a year.

    Posted in: Books

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