ABC's Charles Gibson Savors Victory; Times Reports News But Doesn't Deliver It
For somebody who always thought ABC news anchor Charles Gibson was an underappreciated gem, it's been particulaerly delicious to see his success in the evening news ratings wars.
According to ABC, “World News with Charles Gibson” won May's "sweeps" reatings period among Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 -- averaging nearly 8 million viewers a day -- marking the broadcast’s second consecutive sweeps win. The last time “World News” won back-to-back sweeps among both Total Viewers and the demo was eleven years ago in 1996.
“World News” also was the only evening newscast to grow its Total Viewing audience, increasing 7%; NBC dropped 11% and CBS’ “Evening News” declined 15%. In fact, Variety reports CBS' average of 6.1-million viewers was its lowest since Nielsen Media Research began keeping electronic records in 1991.
The only trouble with this success is what it may say about the preferences of the evening news audience. CBS, too, saw ratings gains when Bob Schieffer replaced Dan Rather -- indicating that the core network evening news audience may prefer getting its reports from an old white guy than tan, middle-aged Brian Williams or the first solo female anchor, Katie Couric.
Times Doesn't Deliver the News It Reports
We've got a particularly disappointing letter to the editor today from a reader who noticed that Tropicana Field had no copies of the St. Petersburg Times or TBT* on the day we ran a tough story about allegations Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes had threatened to kill his estranged wife and their young children.
Even some folks inside our building assumed the decision was made by Devil Rays management. But according to letter writer Aaron Peter, one of our own circulation executives admitted deciding to withhold copies of the publications from the facility.
Fortunately, I placed a call to tbt* circulation manager Craig Holley, who spent much of yesterday apologizing for misunderstanding what happened and giving Peter an incorrect explanation.
Turns out the Times offers charities the opportunity to sell papers at the Trop to raise money. Because our executives knew the Dukes story might upset some fans, they decided to cancel the distribution of charity papers; unfortunately, by the time circulation got the news, the order garbled into withholding all newspapers -- a decision which incensed several editors here, before they learned it was a mistake.
It almost goes without saying that great reporting loses its impact when the business side of the newspaper keeps the stories from going where they most need to be seen. I'm hopeful that our executives now realize the kind of communication needed to ensure there isn't even the appearance of censoring news.
Reading Your Mind By Reading Your Body
Five minutes after completing a TV interview with former FBI interrogator Joe Navarro, I knew I had to write about him.
We were talking with WTVT-Ch. 13 anchor Kathy Fountain, and he nonchalantly dissected what several physical things she did indicated about her mental state-- from the way she held her head to the way she clasped her hands.
Even though I was a little worried about what he might read from me (at right, is a sign of concern, especially for women), I immediately resolved to meet him and talk over what it's like to know so much about people without even talking to them. And with editing help from our Pulitzer Prize winner Tom French, I also mostly presented the story in his own words.
Check it out here and let me know what you think.