Friday, February 22, 2008

All the President's Men? Not quite

If you're still in college, you should not be allowed to graduate until you've seen this movie. And if you work in the news business and haven't seen it, then rent it on your next day off.

Yes, the movie is more than 30 years old, but it still packs a wallop of inspiration and education. More than that, it is a terrific example of two reporters who stopped at nothing while digging for the story the old fashioned way.

Why is this a topic of discussion? Oh, that little article about John McCain in the New York Times.

Regardless of what you think of the Arizona Senator, you can learn a lot from reading Thursday's piece in the Times. As I read this incredibly long article, I kept saying to myself, "Okay, where's the quote from a named source?"

And that made me think of the movie. How Ben Bradlee (played by Jason Robards) insisted on solid sources and attribution before he would print anything that took on the President of the United States.

In today's rush to be first and sensational without necessarily being right, news people have made printing or broadcasting rumors and innuendo quite commonplace, and seemingly acceptable. It is a sad state of affairs when you pick up a newspaper and know that paper's political leanings before you read one word.

The Times article may be true, or it may not. The point is to make sure your story is solid before you bring it to the public. The old saying "never let the facts get in the way of a good story" used to be a news room joke, but now seems to hold more truth to it than ever.

Get your facts, check them, get both sides, then do your story. Journalism 101.

Friday's story ideas

Study shows seniors who have trouble staying awake during the day may be susceptible to a stroke.

Another study shows cancer survivors take a lot of vitamin supplements, and those may be interfering with their cancer treatments.

Super delegates. As these people become more critical to the Democratic primary, it is time to find out what influence, if any, their constituents have on their decisions. Do members of congress vote their personal beliefs, or those of their districts?

Car rental insurance. Are you duplicating coverage provided by your credit card company? Depends on the credit card.

SAT company sues test-prep company for using "live" questions to prep students. What's the best (and legit) way to prep your kids for the college entrance exam?

Government approves "virtual" border fence to catch illegal immigrants.

"Do not call" complaints. Some companies continue to ignore the law. (At least they do in this household.) So how do you file a complaint? And will it do any good?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday's story ideas

Oh, those political spouses. First Bill Clinton offends people in South Carolina, then Michelle Obama makes some news with her "pride" sound bite. Then Cindy McCain joins in. (Janet Huckabee, you're next.) Do voters care about the candidates other halves, and would people change their votes based on comments from a spouse?

New health study shows that people who are well educated are less likely to suffer memory loss as seniors.

Lose weight by packing your own lunch. You control the portions and calories, and aren't tempted to order dessert when you eat out.

Cell phone companies offer unlimited use plans. (Teenagers are never seen again.)

Re-applying for social security. If you took benefits early, then changed your mind, there is a way to reverse your decision. Of course, you have to pay back the money you already received...but without interest.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet another laryngitis suggestion

In you're an on-air person, you've probably lost your voice at one time or another. The first time it happened to me, I heard every remedy in the book.

Tea with lemon. Tea with honey. Lemon juice with whiskey. Not talking on your day off. A cough drop between your cheek and gum. (That one actually works great if you're doing play-by-play.)

I recently stumbled onto another one courtesy of my wife, who brought home a brand of tea called "Throat Coat." Produced by a company called "Traditional Medicinals," the tea tastes good and really soothes the throat.

Those you you with frequent voice problems might give this stuff a shot.

Wednesday's story ideas

Lunar eclipse tonight. Don't miss it at about 10pm EST, since it will be the last one for a few years. Easy show closer video for your late 'cast.

Oil hits all time high. Now will people stop driving?

Discount stores become more popular as prices head higher.

Bankruptcy. With so many people in financial trouble, what exactly does this process entail and what are the long term effects?

With Castro leaving the picture, what does this mean for possible US-Cuba trade relations, and how might it affect your market?

Supplements. With all the scandals about steroids and HGH, which over the counter "supplements" are actually safe?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday's story ideas

Beef recall. Hit a supermarket to see if shoppers are opting for alternatives.

Uninsured Americans more likely to have advanced diseases when diagnosed with cancer. Does this make the average person want a national health care plan, and what would be the cost? Talk to a few doctors.

What constitutes plagiarism in politics? Do voters feel it is okay for a candidate to "borrow" lines from a speech? Or do rules not apply to political advertising?

Amtrak hikes security. What took so long, and how do train passengers feel about it?

Hybrid mortgages. What are they and how do they differ from ARMs?