Thursday, January 17, 2008

Inspirational reruns

With the writer's strike still going strong, the phrase "nothing's on" is becoming more prevalent in households across America. For news people who don't want a diet of reality shows, let me suggest something I discovered on a cable channel called "American Life TV Network."

The show is Lou Grant, which was a top 10 hit for CBS back in the 1970's. And while it is set in a newspaper and a bit dated, there are certain concepts that never get old. The show is one of the reasons I was bitten by the journalism bug, along with the movie All the President's Men. (A must watch for all reporters.)

Watch a few episodes and you'll get a great look at old fashioned reporting. The show's reporters, Joe Rossi and Billie Newman, do a ton of legwork and stop at nothing to get the story. Rossi is the pit bull in the china shop, while Billie is the ethical one whose heart finds its way into her stories. You'll see plenty of people you recognize from your own newsrooms, as some things never change.

The show is journalism at its core, and if you've lost your way or are just feeling jaded about the industry, check out a few episodes and revisit what made you excited about the career in the first place.

I'm sure you'll get a kick out of things like manual typewriters and push button phones, which, to be honest, worked a lot better than the phones and call waiting systems we have today. Never lost a call with those things.

Incidentally, the show was cancelled when its star, Ed Asner, was a little too outspoken politically. Pretty amazing considering you'd probably have a hard time finding a Hollywood star these days that isn't political.

And keep an eye out for the newspaper's publisher, played by Nancy Marchand. Yep, that's Tony Soprano's mom.

Bottom line, you've got some homework Wednesday nights at 9pm Eastern. Hope the show does for you what it once did for me.

Thursday's story ideas

Organic foods. They're gaining in popularity with more people buying local to be green. Check the local fruit stand and with local farmers to see how they're selling their product without transporting it cross country.

If Delta and Northwest merge, what does it mean to air travelers?

A health study about health studies reveals about one third of all reports on antidepressants never get published. And many of the products being tested don't work. What's the best way for a patient to be informed on pharmaceuticals?

The movie "Cloverfield" opens this weekend, and is already getting flak for a scene in which a building that looks like the World Trade Center explodes and collapses in a manner that recollects 9/11.

What happens to tenants when a landlord defaults on the mortgage for the building in which they live?

Feature: Digital hymn books now being sold to churches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday's story ideas

Latin American illegal immigrants are moving further north to avoid border patrols. What's being done in states that aren't on our southern border?

Meanwhile, on January 31st you'll have to provide a government issued ID and proof of citizenship when entering the US from Mexico or Canada.

You may read your newspaper from the Internet, but are those electronic book readers selling? What are the advantages, besides the obvious environmental ones?

In primaries you're electing delegates, but we rarely get to meet them. Just who are these people we'll be sending to the conventions?

Political signs. You might be surprised to find out how expensive they are and how many are stolen during the average campaign.

The government says cloned food is just fine. (In the future, a wife says, "You're grilling steak for dinner again?" The husband replies, "Yes, in fact it is the same steak you had last month!")

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tuesday's story ideas

High priced pharmaceuticals that don't work. How much does advertising and pressure from Big Pharma play into what your doctor prescribes?

Survey shows manufacturing companies are cutting overtime a great deal. Are manufacturers in your market cutting costs by cutting hours?

Money market accounts... are they a safe bet with the stock market looking so volatile?

Consumer spending slows... and this usually means restaurants feel the pinch. How's business in your market?

Microsoft developing a new digital shopping cart that will let you check out without waiting in line. (Sign me up now.) They'll be tested in some Shop Rites on the East Coast.

Fat free items. Guess what? Many are loaded with high fructose corn syrup.

Monday's story ideas

Market basket. Been grocery shopping lately? Prices have skyrocketed as the cost of transporting food goes higher.

Medical insurance changes for 2008. Has your co-pay gone up? Prescriptions not cheap anymore?

Political polls. How are they taken in your market, and what's the math formula used to determine accuracy?

Train travel. With gas and airline tickets so high, are more people considering rail travel?

Looks like interest rates will be dropping again. At what point should you consider refinancing your mortgage?

DVRs. Just about every cable & satellite company will give you one. Do a comparison of what's available.