Internet confidential: NBC5's bloggin' brigade
07/23/08 01:42 PM
By ED BARK
NBC5's full-time news staff is D-FW's smallest at last count, with a total of 27 anchors and reporters, including weather and sports.
But the station leads the local leagues in bloggers -- 17 to be exact. Maybe "Working with a Net" should be NBC5's new slogan. Clearly it's a priority with management.
Before looking at what NBC5ers have been blogging lately, let's check the specs for Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11. All of these numbers are based on prolonged visits to their Web sites to see who's blogging and who's not.
Fox4 currently has a full-time newsroom staff of 32, with 14 of them contributing blogs as well. That makes the station a solid second to the Peacock.
WFAA8, with the market's largest staff of 37, has eight bloggers. But the station is the only D-FW news provider with face-to-the-camera video blogs. Anchor Gloria Campos calls hers the "Glo Cam." Aaron Chimbel's is the "Mojo Blog."
CBS11 is still barely in this game. Only anchor Tracy Kornet has her own individual blog among the station's 35 news staffers. CBS11 also has a sports blog called "The Bullpen" and a weather blog. But that still doesn't add up to much compared to the others.
NBC's bloggers are all still doing it the commendable old-school way, in print. And some of them really seem to be working at it.
Early morning traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck calls hers "Totally Tammy," and begins each post with a "Hey gang" greeting. Her most recent contribution, written on July 18th, is on the "Hot Batmobile's" arrival in North Texas.
She's also written lately on Christie Brinkley's divorce proceedings and some "Wonderful Viewer Encounters," which include pictures. But Dombeck hasn't been much of a busy bee of late. Just four posts in the past month. Unlike Uncle Barky, perhaps she has a life or went on vacation.
Reporter Grant Stinchfield ("Grant's Rant") in contrast has authored nine posts in the past two weeks, most of them with pictures included.
One of his two July 14th submissions is titled "Tony Romo Not Happy With Me." Stinchfield says he asked the Dallas Cowboys QB, "nicely I may add," about Jessica Simpson during a recent NBC5 Sports Extra program.
"He seemed to get annoyed," Stinchfield wrote. "Tony needs to realize the majority of viewers, not sports fans, want to know about Jessica. And the sports fans simply want to know if she is a distraction . . . Tony needs to learn how to just deal with it. He is a 'celebrity' quarterback, whether he likes it or not. I'm sorry for asking, but when you do an interview with Tony, it is the one question that has to be asked. If you don't ask it, the reporter looks like an idiot."
This particular post drew three comments, the first one being, "Leave his private life alone, stupid reporters!!!!!" Ya gotta love this blogging biz. But at least Stinchfield puts a little bite in his rants. In another one, he began, "I have long contended that many politicians are misguided fools."
Fellow NBC5 reporter Randy McIlwain -- "Big Man Bloggin' " is his title -- mixes it up with long and sometimes very dicey observations on subjects ranging from the "N-word" (which he prints in full as you'll see) to "The Pee-Pee man Cometh," a discourse on Mavericks' forward Josh Howard facing possible drug-testing after admitting to off-season marijuana use.
His n-word commentary emphasizes that "context" is key whenever that word is dropped. "Can you ever call me a Nigger?" McIlwain writes. "Yes, depending again on context, if you walk up to me, call me a Nigger and suddenly lose consciousness, sorry, you used it in the wrong context."
McIlwain, who signs off most of his posts with "It's a big man's world, it's a big man blogging," notes that he could never have a racially charged discussion like this on TV. Even on his blog it's gone relatively unnoticed, with no comments to date.
Other NBC5 bloggers aren't exactly hellraisers.
Anchor Mike Snyder to date has had six posts devoted to his ongoing efforts to lose -- dare it be said -- a considerable amount of weight. His desk partner, Jane McGarry, recently wrote about her diet, too.
Anchor/reporter Brian Curtis' latest dispatch -- on "The Sausage Factory" -- is about the ongoing renovations to his kitchen, including a picture.
Reporter Melissa Newton apologized for calling in sick for the first time in a July 16th post titled "I Love Our Viewers!" But her most recent dispatch is about the sometimes harsh realities of covering a police manhunt.
Veteran Ken Kalthoff ("On the Fence") sticks mostly to hard news updates, including his latest post on an early morning drive-by shooting, complete with two pictures.
Reporter Omar Villafranca ("What did Omar Say?") uses lots of pictures, too. His most recent post, on July 22, jokes about a possible Elvis sighting in Aledo, TX, which he visited last week. Not exactly a keeper, Omar.
Night Ranger Scott Gordon hasn't refreshed his "Gordon Gabs" blog since July 10th. But it was a helluva long post with pictures on "How the Great Cookie Caper Crumbled." He also got 11 reader comments, which is about 11 times as many as most of NBC5's bloggers are getting.
Reporter/anchor Scott Friedman, who's really been slacking off lately, has attracted just one comment for his last 10 posts. And he hasn't blogged since July 1st.
Then again, Friedman's on-air work continues to be mostly first-rate. You've got to make time for that, too, even at the risk of getting into a blog jam.
Meanwhile, maybe this will drive some traffic to these blogs. Any comments?