Major Catastrophe: Major Media Problem

By Walter Brasch   On Oct. 23, Southern California Gas technicians discovered a leak of methane from a failed casing on one of the pipes in its Alisa Canyon storage facility, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The company estimates it will be the end of March until it can plug that leak from the pipe that is about 9,000 feet deep. About 77,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that can widen the ozone hole in the atmosphere, have already gone into the air. Residents in the area have complained of nausea, dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds from the sulfur-like odor that is put into natural gas to identify it. Residents of about 3,000 households have been relocated. Hundreds … Continue reading

Downsizing the News Staff; Downsizing Quality and Credibility

  by Walter Brasch   (Part 1 of 2) On Monday, Nov. 2, every National Geographic staffer was told to report to the magazine’s Washington, D.C., headquarters the next day to await a phone call or e-mail from Human Resources. Ever since Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox corporation bought the magazine in September, there were rumors the new owner would maximize profits by terminating employees. Those predictions came through when Management fired 180 people, and told dozens of others they were being offered “voluntary buy-outs.” The corporation also announced it was eliminating health coverage for future retirees and was freezing all pensions. Management told the public there would be no loss of quality, but it’s hard to believe those claims … Continue reading

The 24/7 Election and Media Carousel

by Walter Brasch   The national news media—and their sidekicks, the cackling pundits—had been asking the same questions the past six months. “Will he? Won’t he? Should he? Shouldn’t he? Can he? Can’t he?” The “he” is Joe Biden. The vice-president said numerous times he was still thinking about running for president, but hadn’t made up his mind. The Biden question kept the media busy speculating about an issue that even Mr. Biden couldn’t answer, nor should he have been forced to make a commitment in the media’s time frame. This past week, he decided not to run for the presidency. Although Biden explained his reasons, the media can now spend a few weeks asking the question, “But what if … Continue reading

A Fracking Good Letter

    by Walter Brasch   The oil and gas industry has retreated from its entrenched position to have the public delete the “k” in “fracking,” and write it as “frac’ing” or “fracing.” Those who have been the strongest advocates for fracking scorned and mocked those who place the “k” in the word. The problem is that without the “k,” the word sounds like “frasing.” However, the first use of the word “fracking” can be traced to an oil and gas journal article in 1953. As hydraulic horizontal fracturing became a standard to extract gas and oil about 2008, anti-fracking activists began using the word—with the “k”—in advertising, social media, and public protest campaigns that slyly bordered on the obscene—“Frack … Continue reading

The Sounds of Silence—Political Style

by Walter Brasch   A hush has fallen over our house. It began late Tuesday night and, if we are fortunate, will last at least a week. But it will return. We have no illusions that there will be continued quiet. That’s because we are in the middle of yet another election cycle.   It’s not as bad as it was in 2008 or 2012 when we were getting five to ten robocalls every day from Democrats, Republicans, Friends of Democrats, Friends of Republicans, Chambers of Commerce, and unions. During those years, almost every TV ad was someone praising his own political legacy or attacking her opponent for something that may or may not have been better placed in one … Continue reading

Tragedy in the 24/7 News Media

by Walter Brasch CNN is the 24/7 media trumpet for news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that is presumed to have crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. On that flight were 227 passengers and 12 crew members. CNN grabbed every iota of information, pumped it full of digital frequencies, and broadcast it to what it thought was a world salivating for every syllable of thought. When there was news, CNN broadcast it. When there was no news, CNN broadcast it. When there were outrageous theories, CNN was the source to find out who was saying what. When there was a rumor, CNN broadcast that, only to have to retract it hours later. Through chatter and repetition, CNN … Continue reading

Weathering a Blizzard of News Media Bravado

Ginger Zee is an ABC News weather person. She’s 32 years old, has a B.S. in meteorology, and says even in high school she wanted to be a TV network weatherperson. Not a scientist in a lab studying and analyzing weather, but a TV weather person. For more than a decade, she worked local and regional markets, mostly in Michigan and Chicago. Her other qualifications are that she is photogenic, has a somewhat bubbly personality, wears a size 4 dress, weighs 125 pounds, and was her high school homecoming queen. If she wasn’t on TV, she says she’d have loved to be a bartender. It’s entirely possible she’s competent. But, it’s also possible that TV execs bypassed thousands of other … Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS: AP, Media Fumble News Story

  by Walter Brasch   On the Sunday before the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney and some of his senior staffers played a flag football game with members of the Press Corps on Delray Beach, Fla. Ashley Parker of the Associated Press, apparently mistaking fashion reporting for news, reported that Mitt Romney was “wearing black shorts, a black Adidas T-shirt and gray sneakers.” Romney’s team, composed of senior campaign staff whom Parker identified, was “clad in red T-shirts.” She didn’t report what the members of the press wore, their names, or how many were on a team, but did acknowledge she “also played, winning the coin toss for her team, but doing little else by way of yardage accrual.” Yardage … Continue reading