Tuesday, December 30, 2008

KRON un-invites TV news critics

In a bizarre series of events, KRON invited Pulitzer Prize-winning former LA Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg and former CNN correspondent Charles Feldman to appear on Jan Wahl's Jan. 3 interview program. Then Wahl told the pair that they had been canceled due to a format change. But the format didn't change. Instead KRON News Director Aaron Pero, in a remarkably candid e-mail, admitted the authors were bumped because they wrote a book (titled "No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle") that is critical of television news.

“I am not all that interested in a book that is going to be critical of what we do as a business,” Pero wrote in an e-mail to the author's publicist.

Here's a link to the media blog LA Observed and a story appearing in this morning's edition of the Palo Alto Daily Post:
    KRON bans TV critics
    BY IAN S. PORT
    Daily Post Staff Writer

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic and a former CNN correspondent have written a book critical of TV news, but a local TV news station won’t let them discuss it on the air.

    KRON 4 has canceled the Jan. 3 appearance of Howard Rosenberg and Charles Feldman, after News Director Aaron Pero said he didn’t think such a conversation was fit for the airwaves.
    “I am not all that interested in a book that is going to be critical of what we do as a business,” Pero wrote in an e-mail to the journalists.

    Feldman blasted Pero’s decision in an interview with the Post last night, saying he didn’t care about the missed opportunity to promote the book but was appalled at the reason for the cancellation.

    “It’s disgusting, that’s what it is,” Feldman told the Post. “It’s a paternalistic approach that says we know what is best for our viewers and we need to shield them from anything that’s critical of the industry. It is a betrayal of the public trust.”

    Rosenberg, a former TV critic for the L.A. Times, and Feldman, a veteran former CNN correspondent, published “No Time To Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle” in October. Feldman said the pair were invited by KRON host Jan Wahl to discuss the book on a Jan. 3 interview segment, after she said she read and enjoyed the book.

    Wahl and Pero did not return requests for comment last night. The segment would have aired on KRON’s Saturday morning news show.

    Feldman said he and Rosenberg had already purchased their plane tickets when Feldman got a voice mail from Wahl on Sunday saying that the format of her show had changed and the journalists were no longer wanted.

    “It didn’t make any sense,” Feldman said. “If she no longer does interviews on her show, what would she do?”

    Later, the authors got an e-mail from Pero explaining the real reason for the cancellation.
    The authors sent Pero an outraged e-mail that was published next to Pero’s note on the blog LAObserved.com.

    “If they really are that nervous that two authors are going to come on and be critical of the industry and that’s going to somehow make their audience go away, they really have to seriously sit down, look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves what they’re doing wrong,” Feldman told the Post.

    He said that the book focuses on the coverage of international networks like CNN — not local stations like KRON.

    “It’s really more about the big boys than it is the small boys, but maybe the small boys just can’t take the heat,” Feldman said. “(Pero) is censoring something he hasn’t even read.”

    Feldman, who now lives in L.A., said he’s open to appearing to discussing the book other TV and radio stations in the Bay Area, but hasn’t gotten any invitations yet.
UPDATE: Late last night, KRON offered to interview Rosenberg and Feldman for a news story that would appear Jan. 3, though the sit-down interview was still off. Rosenberg and Feldman turned down the offer, saying it was insincere and the brief amount of time given to such news stories would not allow them to discuss their book in depth.

While Rosenberg and Feldman have done interviews in other markets, they have not been invited to appear on either the Ronn Owens or Michael Krasny programs -- the venues one might expect to hear such authors.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

If I've got this right, Pero makes Jan Wahl lie to these guys about why they're being bumped, and then he admits that he won't let people on his air who criticize his medium? And he's a news director, who is presumably supposed to exercise good judgment in deciding what to put on the air? WOW!

Anonymous said...

Betcha this controversy never reaches CNN, MSNBC or Fox News.

Anonymous said...

Jan Walh isn't exactly in the same league as Ronn Owens or Michael Krasny.

Anonymous said...

If it was on KRON, nobody would have watched the interview anyway.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, Jan Wahl is MARRIED to Ronn Owens

Anonymous said...

Nothing like this since the blackout of "Philips Code: No News is Good News - to a Killer."

Anonymous said...

Jan Wahl was over ruled by Pero pure and simple. Love her or hate her she is honest. She no doubt had to think of a reason quick to cancel when Pero shot the interview down. In light of his reasoning I think her response was about as good as anyone could come up with.

Anonymous said...

No, Owens is married to Jan Black, a former KCBS anchor.

emr said...

I'll admit it, this would've made for some interesting TV, especially knowing Jan Wahl's propensity for getting into hilarious on-air fights (check YouTube for the legendary Wahl/Tarantino showdown).

However, Pero acted appropriately in cancelling this. The authors are the idiots: using a NEWS show to appear on to criticize NEWS? Seriously? "Hello, you're watching news but the news sucks, why are you idiots watching the news?... but by our book!"

Anonymous said...

Didn't KRON used to have a reputable news organization, that valued its public responsibility as an FCC licensed community asset for the Bay Area?

Those days seem to be long gone.

The News Director should be reminded of some of his larger responsibilities, which include providing balanced and thought provoking coverage of events...even when such spotlights of attention may not reflect positively on his immediate situation.

This probably is an item to be brought up by local viewers during KRON's next FCC license renewal period.

smoothjazzandmore said...

So! The KRON big wigs flaked out on an interview. Could it be that they're actually telling the truth about the way business is being done? You know what they say about the truth, eh? It will set you free! But as the famous line goes, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

Read my blog on the previous subject about what KRON and other TV stations are doing!

Click here to read!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Pero should not be serving in a capacity to make any sort of news decisions. What a joke. How about a little constructive criticism.
Have you seen their news shows lately? They are unwatchable. Looks like I am watching a BAD college station ... not a major market. So sad .. KRON used to be good.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but media critics at the local level are a waste of time and money, anyway. And though this news director is wrong in the reasons for not wanting them on, he is right in a way: viewers don't care about the inner workings of television! Pick another topic that might actually be newsworthy!

Anonymous said...

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO SERVING THE PUBLIC'S "INTEREST CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY? AND THE CODE OF BROADCAST NEWS ETHICS THAT ALL NEWS DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION MEMBERS "SWORE" TO UPHOLD. OR HAS THIS ALSO GONE AWAY. HAVE YOU EVER READ IT? THIS IDIOT IS NOT A NEWS DIRECTOR HE IS A NEWS DICTATOR!

In the Biz said...

The News Director is an idiot and who really watches Jan Wahl's Interview program...six old folks at the Sunnyside Retirement home...who cares

Anonymous said...

You guys clearly don't know Pero. I betting he just thought it was a dumb interview and not particularly interesting local television. Two guys going on television to sell a book bashing television news? That does not make a lot of sense when the station is focused on traffic, weather and unconventional tecniques.

Anonymous said...

Unconventional techniques? That's a strange way to put it. Don't know why you are defending Pero.
The person who wrote that he "is an idiot" had it so right. Sounds like he has a definite agenda.
If all I wanted from a newscast is traffic and weather, I would listen to the radio. Maybe that's where he belongs.

Anonymous said...

A few facts (vs. opinions and misinformation):

+The show format WAS changed. Jan Wahl's interview segments have been discontinued and all of her previously scheduled guests had to be canceled.

+The News Director's candor would be refreshing if it weren't so naive and unprofessional. This sort of self-serving Gatekeeping is widespread, though rarely acknowledged.

+The previous poster (perhaps Pero himself or a surrogate?) wrote: "I betting [sic] he just thought it was a dumb interview and not particularly interesting local television." That pretty much summarizes the kind of news judgment being exhibited. A critique of TV news is "dumb." A controversial segment is "boring." Compare that to the puerile nonsense that now fills their news.