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Tom - The Grand Rapids Press reported earlier this week that three of West Michigan's major TV network affiliates are launching a news sharing arrangement. The stations -- WOOD-TV8 (NBC), WWMT-TV3 (CBS) and WZZM-TV13 (ABC) -- cover the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek markets. The pooling does not include Grand Rapids-based WXMI-TV17 (Fox). In a joint release, station managers said the shared resources begin July 13. The release said "photographers will cover pre-planned stories, such as news conferences, court appearances, ground breakings, and other scheduled news events. News directors or assignment editors will agree on which events will be covered by the pool. The release said the stations will continue to operate independently and will not share on-air talent. They will independently make decisions on how to gather and report the news.
Linda - Such cooperation is a national trend -- local stations saw competing news affiliates in larger markets such as New York City and Philadelphia pursuing similar cooperative efforts. Also, as television newsrooms shrink across the country, program directors are working to overcome furloughs, buyouts and other cost-saving measures. The three stations said no jobs would be lost, and that it's not necessarily a cost-cutting measure. Cutting the amount of time personnel spend at groundbreakings or court appearances will allow news departments to spend more time pursuing other reporting. As for Fox 17, WXMI vice president and general manager Patty Kolb said they decided to pull out of discussions in February because of the station's high definition conversion.
Tom - According to TMCnet.com, last week Vice President Joe Biden announced $4 billion nationwide in loans and grants for expanding broadband coverage in unserved and underserved communities. A total of $7.2 billion will be available, a dollar amount that the government previously announced. That money will be leveraged with private investment. Biden made the announcement to about 500 people in the Seneca High School gymnasium in Wattsburg Pennsylvania. U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, of Erie, D-3rd Dist., said Wattsburg was "a great place" for the administration to launch the rural initiative. She said it's an area that would benefit from high-speed Internet.
Linda - Biden noted that while the Wattsburg Area School District has broadband access, many of its students are without it at home. He also said high-speed Internet would allow farmers and ranchers to quickly reach the markets with their products and would help create small businesses without changing the characteristics of small towns as well as help rural towns with health care, education and other important issues. Biden's visit kicked off what President Barack Obama called the administration's summer tour of rural communities to talk about how communities, states and the federal government can work together on rural issues. Biden said that 14 nations in the world have better broadband access than the United States.
Tom - According to the Journal Broadcasting and Cable, major advertisers and their agencies have agreed to give Web surfers more control over behavioral advertising. That is according to new self-regulatory guidelines issued last week by the major advertising trade associations, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The guidelines include "requir[ing] 'service providers,' a term that includes Internet access service providers and providers of desktop applications software such as Web browser 'tool bars,' to obtain the consent of users before engaging in online behavioral advertising." The groups said the guidelines would be in place by the beginning of 2010 and enforced by industry bodies created by the DMA and Council of Better Business Bureau, the latter of which already has a template in its Children's Advertising Review Unit.
Linda - The FTC and Congress have put pressure on the ad industry to better notify consumers when their Web surfing information is being used to create profiles for targeted advertisers or being re-used for other purposes. Those concerns have been increasingly raised on Capitol Hill, where House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is preparing an online privacy bill. At a hearing on the bill two weeks ago, the ad industry telegraphed that they were almost ready to unveil the guidelines, but also said a strict opt-in regime imposed from Washington could pose a "profound risk" to ad supported services, and could impair the consumer surfing experience, which could in turn "uproot" the revenue model. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy and a leading voice for more government oversight of online marketing, at the time countered that self-regulation has failed to this point, and that in any case, it would only be as good as the legislation that stood behind it. Boucher suggested such self-regulations could be made part of his eventual bill.
Tom - In Britain the mainstream media is leaving the public in the dark by failing to explain basic information about the news, a new report has suggested. Audiences are being made to feel confused and excluded by reports they do not understand, according to the paper ‘Public Trust In The News’ by academics from Manchester and Leeds Universities, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In one example, none of the participants in several focus groups organised by researchers knew that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were from the same political party, despite extensive coverage of the US primary elections in Britain last year. The study suggested that while mass media leaves many people feeling powerless and uncertain of what to believe, the internet helps them understand the news. Online media also may make people feel they can make a difference by giving them access to unofficial accounts from people unaffected by professional interests or political correctness and by allowing feedback to authorities, the report suggested.
Linda - The report noted that:“We were struck by the confidence that people expressed in the internet generally and Google specifically as the most trusted resource of explanation and analysis,” “It was very clear from all of the groups that there is a pervasive trust in online resources as providers of the kind of useful, reliable and amusing information that they defined as news.” However, the report also mentioned that the internet is leaving some people more confused than ever, because of its size and abundance of sources. Journalists interviewed as part of the study were underwhelmed by amateur news reporting on the internet, contending that blogs usually provide nothing more than second-hand information taken from elsewhere on the internet. The journalist respondents were also more likely than the public to say that news stories were liable to be untrue.
Tom - Iran’s state-run Fars news agency said last week that a Newsweek magazine reporter who was detained last month has “confessed” that Western media helped stir unrest following the disputed June 12 presidential election. Newsweek said it “strongly disputes” the allegations against Maziar Bahari and called for his immediate release. Iranian officials arrested Bahari, a Tehran-based journalist of Iranian-Canadian citizenship, about two weeks ago as the Iranian capital was rocked by daily protests over the officially declared victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bahari, 41, gave a press conference while in custody, saying he had sent “biased” reports as part of a media “conspiracy” aimed at undermining the regime by casting doubt on the Iranian election. Newsweek said it defended Bahari’s work, noting in an e-mailed statement that: “Maziar Bahari is a veteran journalist whose long career, both in print and in documentary filmmaking, has been accurate, even-handed, and widely respected.” It said he has been unable to see a lawyer.
Linda - Iran’s leadership has accused the U.S., the U.K. and their media of instigating the violence that followed mass protests sparked by Ahmadinejad’s re-election. His opponents allege widespread ballot-rigging. Some 20 people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested in the protests in Tehran, the state-run Mehr news agency cited Iran’s police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, as saying today. The protests were the largest since the shah was overthrown by the Islamic revolution in 1979. Bahari acknowledged reporting for Newsweek and Britain’s Channel 4 on “illegal” demonstrations, defying a ban from the country’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry. He was arrested at the apartment where he lives with his mother, Newsweek said in a June 21 report on its Web site. The security officers also took his laptop and several videotapes. The weekly newsmagazine said in a statement last month following his arrest Bahari’s coverage of Iran “has given full weight to all sides of the issues,”. “He has always worked well with different administrations in Tehran, including the current one.”