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Olympics Glass Half Full for Me



I could remember when I watched the Olympics full of anger.

Gimpy, nauseating athlete feature stories. Sitting through events about which I could care less. Enduring jaunty patter from a score of empty anchor suits.

Fast forward to 2006, and I'm a much happier camper. Want to know whether Shani Davis become the first African American to win a gold medal in skating in Turin? Call up (or, even,, to make a blatant plug) and watch the video well before the network gets around to broadcasting it.

Want an alert when the U.S. men's hockey team takes on Finland? A replay of the tense press conference where Davis and American rival Chad Hedrick sat at opposite ends of a long table and eventually dissed each other mercilessly? An opinion from Project Runway expert Tim Gunn on which figure skating outfits look good? (okay, probably not that)

This is why I'm digging the digital media universe. For folks like me, who just want to know enough to look smart around the watercooler, NBC's move to spread coverage all over cable-land and the Internet is way cool. I can see what i want when I want and bypass -- or enjoy -- all the nonsense.

Which is why I never really understood all the to-do this year about NBC's prime time Olympics broadcasts slumping in the ratings. In this new digital media universe, of course the Olympics ratings will fall in prime time: prime time TV viewership is down in general, the events have happened hours ago and are available online or on cable, and people have more on demand attitude than ever.

The other thing I don't get, however, is the Today show's seeming ratings boost from its deluge of Turin coverage. I'm been starting my day with Good Morning America for the past 12 days because it's nailed just the right amount of Olympics vs. real news coverage for me. It's not really news to me that pidgeons like to poop on Katie Couric or Al Roker looks awful in speed skating pants. Some of us would prefer to leave that to our imaginations.

I'm probably maladjusted, but I've always dreamed of a media universe where you could consume just as much (or as little) of a candy-coated hype fest like the Winter Olympics as you could stand. Now that its a reality, why are people complaining so much?

Did You Hear the One About the Vanishing Newscast?

Why won't anyone at Sinclair or WTTA-Ch. 38 talk about the station's newscast?

As I noted in a post a while ago, rumors have run rampant for weeks locally that Tampa's WB affiliate is about to drop its ill-fated 10 p.m. newscast. Originally cobbled together as part of Sinclair's wobbly attempt to clone Fox News Channel on its station group -- and to help WTTA sell ads to customers who don't advertise on stations without a newscast -- the local broadcast has always seemed a little starved for resources and visibility.

The latest rumor is that executives have notified the staff that the weekend broadcast is history in a week or so. But calls to the station's news director, general manager and Sinclar corporate types have yielded a big goose egg for weeks. Not even a "no comment." Just nothing.

It is always ironic when people who spend their workdays trying to get others to comment on the day's news refuse to speak up when they are in the crosshairs (reminds me of recent news on a certain local tabloid going five days weekly. But I digress).

Sure, you could probably count their viewers for that weekend newscast on Captain Hook's fingers, but doesn't the community deserve to know if one of its newscasts is going away?


Looks like CBS' Public Eye blog has accepted a new idea I pitched them for one of their Outside Voices essays. If all goes as usual, I expect the essay to be published Friday. Between these guys and the Huffington Post, I may end up writing as much for other blogs as my own.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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