Friday, December 7, 2007


Dear Grapevine,

I've heard that absolutely nothing happens as far as the hiring process is concerned in December due to the holidays, vacations, etc. Should I wait till January to send tapes?


Dear K. J.,

Remember a week or two ago I told you guys things would start moving as soon as the November book was over?

Well, just this week one of my clients got a new job and another is flying out on an interview.

Though December is slow as far as job hunting goes, things do happen. You have nothing to lose by sending tapes now. This is a slow news month, so many times NDs have some spare time to look at those tapes that have been piling up.

Friday's story ideas

Flu shots at airports. Many major hubs are now offering this service to travelers. Hey, with all the time people have to kill in airports these days, I'm surprised other businesses haven't sprung up.

Mortgage assistance plan. Explain how it works, then find someone in your market that can take advantage.

House approves energy bill. What does it mean to your market?

Physical therapists are using those Wii games to help adults get back to normal. It apparently can strengthen the body and help a person's balance.

Annoying gifts for children. (I did this story every year and got great feedback from viewers.) You know those toys that make too much noise, are horribly repetitious or just plain impractical? You know those people on your list with kids that drive you crazy? Here's your chance to get even. (All time no-brainer: drum set.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday's story ideas

Prepaid funerals. Many people paid for these so long ago only to find out companies have changed hands and they're left with nothing. Or actually, their relatives are when they die. Are these a good idea and how can you protect yourself?

The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is changing. (It provides food for millions of needy people.) They will now be able to get vouchers for fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Snow shoveling for adults. It may seem like good exercise, but it taxes your heart, even if you're a young adult.

Noisy toys can do long term damage to children's hearing. It seems some can reach the decibel level of a chainsaw. Parents everywhere are applauding this study.

Teenage birth rate rises for the first time in 15 years. What's the deal in your market, and what are adults doing about it?

The big holiday travel week is about two weeks out... are there still bargains to be had?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wednesday's story ideas

December & January are the deadliest months for heart attacks. (Thanks to Cleveland Annie for that idea.)

Snowbird taxes. Are states losing income tax dollars to people who claim residency in states like Florida that have no income tax... even though they only live there in the winter?

Toy kitchens for boys. Apparently the theory here is that they'll grow up to share the cooking duties.

We all know the banks are in a credit crisis, but how does someone who has gone thru foreclosure repair personal credit... and how long does it take?

A family group has listed the top ten violent games in this country. And they're probably on your kid's letter to Santa.

Spin cycle puts "being right vs.being first" on back burner

Every once in awhile something that happens in sports can teach you something about news. In this case, it is the murder of Redskins player Sean Taylor.

I was watching ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" on Sunday morning, as I usually do before going into my weekly NFL coma. Mitch Albom raised an excellent point. News people are simply too quick to speculate, and often do so without any hard facts.

This was the case in the Taylor incident. Was this a robbery gone bad? Was Taylor a victim of his upbringing, someone who couldn't leave the bad neighborhood behind? Was he a great guy who should have installed a security system in his home?

It seemed every TV host and columnist had an opinion, and hardly any of them knew the man personally.

Being right vs. being first? That argument is dead. Now all you need is an opinion. Facts are not necessary to take viewers into the spin cycle.

Albom went on to say that sometimes we need to let the story just play out, and used the Duke rape case as an example.

So think before you make any kind of assumption, then don't do it. Just present the facts you have, and let the viewers come up with their own theories. If you form an opinion, and it turns out to be very wrong, you're the one who ends up looking bad. Remember, we're supposed to be objective in this business. That seems to have gotten lost along the way.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tuesday's story ideas

Grade school consultants. Yes, as obsessive parents go to great lengths to get their little darlings in just the right elementary school, they're actually hiring people to help them do it.

Firewood & room heater sales. It's December and heating oil prices are scary. Are people going back to heating their homes with fireplaces? Are they buying those small room heaters for their bedrooms so they don't have to heat the entire house at night?

In light of the thirteen year old who took her own life after getting a nasty message about her MySpace page, is it time parents took more control over what their kids are posting on the net?

Techno-shopping. A few hundred malls around the country offer a service that lets you type what you want on your cell phone, then get a text message telling you what store carries it.

Honey for children's coughs. New study shows taking a teaspoon of honey is more effective than over the counter remedies.

The movie "Golden Compass" opens this week.... keep an eye out in your market for protests

Dancing with America's next top reporter

The writer's strike, even if it ends today, has played havoc with all the schedules in Hollywood. Movie releases will be OK for awhile, but TV is in trouble. And even though December is not exactly a month filled with great stuff in prime time, one thing is going to become painfully obvious as the networks run out of fresh episodes.

Unless you love reality shows, there's not going to be anything worth watching in prime time.

This is an opportunity for stations around the country to make newscasts appointment television once again. You have your own thirty minute reality show every night (see title above), and it's time to get back to filling it with stories that make viewers take notice.

You might end up with some good stuff for your resume tape as well.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Monday's story ideas

School snacks. The feds are looking into a bill to ban stuff like soda and candy machines from schools.

Don Imus returns. We all read and saw numerous stories about how the incident earlier this year would change America. So did it?

Tipping. Are people cutting back on spending by leaving less for waiters & waitresses? Talk to the restaurant people in your market.

Weather story. Climatologists say the tropics are expanding, which could significantly change weather patterns.

Mitt Romney. He plans to give a speech about his faith. If you live in a market without a lot of Mormons, it might be interesting to do a piece explaining the faith. (JFK went thru the same thing in 1960)

It's getting cold in many parts of the country, so what happens to the homeless people? Many shelters simply don't have enough beds.

Yard chickens. If you've never had farm fresh eggs, you're missing something. There's a trend now in residential areas to keep a few chickens in your backyard, and that has some people upset.