A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

If you work in media and live in Memphis, last week was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad week. On Tuesday, we learned the Commercial Appeal let go 17 more employees, perhaps in a cleanse before they sell to Milwaukee’s Journal Media next year. Included in this purge were longtime reporter Lela Garlington and more recent hires Timberly Moore and William DeShazer. Award winning photographer Karen Focht was also cut.

Thursday brought the latest revamp of the printed-paper complete with a “We’ve Changed” headline. Yes, you changed but it’s a case of too little and too late.

On Friday, Entercom abruptly changed formats on 94.1 from Classic Hits to Country and in the process let go on air talents Willie B and long time Memphis favorite Steve Conley. Just over two years ago, this same station removed another fan favorite, Karen Perrin, saying the station was taking a new direction. As a “power listener” of the station, the only change I noticed was a tag line, “Your Life, Your Music.”

Both broadcast radio and print media have had a hard time adjusting to the new digital world. Print hasn’t figured out how to compete online and still make any money. Radio has a similar issue in that almost any music can be heard online without advertisement at little or no cost. Getting that coveted 18-34 demographic is harder and harder to do when that age group has grown up streaming music.

Unfortunately, some really great journalists and broadcast talents are suffering because the corporations running their businesses haven’t caught up with the changing landscapes.

Instead, the paper will continue to cut good people only to find that investigative journalism suffers and Entercom’s 94.1 will become the fourth country music station in a market that can really only handle one. Don’t forget, Memphis is the capital of the Delta, where Elvis and rhythm and blues rule. Leave country to middle and east Tennessee.

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No prayers for business and media

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Tonight, my church was a host site for a National Day of Prayer service. I was asked to participate by leading the congregation in prayer for business and media.

If you’ve never been to a service like this, the format has someone lead prayers for five areas, education, business and media, military and government, families and the church. After the initial prayer is said, anyone from the congregation is welcome to pray aloud as they felt led.

Each area had many people chime in their prayers except business and media. And I’m pretty sure it’s not because my prayer was so good that I covered it all.

Why?

Without a thriving business community our families are without the means to support themselves. Taxes cannot be paid to provide a quality education for our children, or support the government and military. Without a free and impartial media we cannot know the truth about our elected officials and military. Or know when a business has cheated it’s customers or employees.

I’m honored to be able to pray for businesses and for my many friends in the media. They face a tough economy and changing landscape to disseminate the new and yet they keep going.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

An Open Letter to the Media

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by Alys Drake

When there is a tragedy, you have the terrible responsibility to inform the public. Please don’t interview witnesses who are children. I don’t care if their parents give permission. The parents are probably too traumatized to make a rational decision as well. What good comes from it? These babies are already damaged and you want to put their reactions on the air? For what?

Not for me. I immediately turn off any program that shows it. Which has meant I haven’t watched much of the coverage for this latest mass shooting.

I think it’s lazy reporting at best and intrusive and a violation at it’s worst. Instead, find adults who can tell you what it was like for the children but don’t interview the children themselves.

Find stories of compassion and heroics and focus on them. Please don’t make us relive the horror over and over. We have a responsibility to our children to help them make sense of the senseless. As the media, you have the responsibility to report the news with accuracy and compassion.

God bless and guide the parents of the dead. God bless and guide the law enforcement community who must identify the dead. And God bless and guide the media charged to inform the public.