Tuesday Roundup

Some followup, mostly on previous items…and all from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as it turns out:

NEW ANCHOR TEAM: Just an hour before we posted our own item, the Plain Dealer’s Entertainment blog had official word of WOIO/19’s new “19 Action News” weekend anchor team.

As we reported earlier, and heard from our own sources, it’s indeed former KOVR/13 Sacramento anchor mainstay Paul Joncich coming to Reserve Square as half of the weekend anchor team at the local CBS affiliate.

His co-anchor, as rumored, is Danielle Serino…who spent six years in Chicago, and has worked in Miami and New York City. Her most recent gig has been as consumer reporter for FOX’s O&O in Chicago, WFLD/32…in segments entitled “The Bottom Line”.

The move not only puts Catherine Bosley back to full-time reporting, but also does the same for Denise Strzelczyk…who’d been solo anchor of “19 Action News”‘ Sunday broadcasts.

TIME WARNER/ADELPHIA: We’re finally getting down to the wire in the Time Warner takeover of the Cleveland-based Adelphia systems…and Comcast here, as well. (In other markets, Comcast will be the company doing such consolidating.)

Cleveland Plain Dealer tech columnist Henry Gomez reports that Time Warner plans a big splash at Jacobs Field on August 1st…the date that the merger will apparently be completed.

Time Warner suits tell Gomez that they’re not planning on rate increases “right now”, and as expected, that it’ll take some time for all the systems to be merged.

To that end, Time Warner is apparently undergoing negotiations with cable channels that are carried by Adelphia and Comcast locally, and aren’t carried by the Time Warner Northeast Ohio system. Time Warner’s Stephen Fry admits that some “obscure” channels could be lost to current Adelphia/Comcast subscribers.

The entire process is expected to take about two years, and will include the introduction of TWC’s “DigitalPhone” service to the ex-Adelphia/Comcast service areas and new jobs at two area call centers.

911 CALL: Plain Dealer news columnist Sam Fulwood III defends WOIO/19 for airing that controversial 911 call involving family members of Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner.

Fulwood’s basic reasoning is that “the rich should be treated just like the poor”, and that WOIO would have (and should have) aired such a call no matter what the status is, of the bank account of the family involved. He writes:

Airing that call was a courageous – if unpopular – act of journalism. Every media outlet in this city should applaud Channel 19 for its integrity.

Channel 19 did what it is supposed to do. It informed the public by broadcasting news without fear or favor. Facing the possible loss of millions of dollars, the station refused to kowtow to a beloved local business and the wealthy family that owns it.

A brief comment or two…we don’t want to veer too far off into Opinion Land here:

Airing a 911 call of a grieving mother is hardly an act of courage. It’s done, as suggested, in newsrooms all over the country.

WOIO airing this particular call was hardly an act of integrity. It was very likely just “something they do”. The flash-and-dash style of “19 Action News” calls for theatrics, and what better ready-made bit of theatrics than a crying mother calling 911 about her dead daughter?

Mr. Fulwood makes it sound like it was a courageous, conscious decision by WOIO to air the call, “wealthy team owner be damned”. Nope…it’s just how the station does business. Fulwood considers that an act of “integrity”…we consider it more of an accident if it appears that way to him.

And he, like everyone else, is well aware of the nature of the Action News Beast. He spends much of the first part of his column even talking about it.

As we’ve said more than once, it’s the opinion of this corner that Channel 19 had every right to obtain and air the tape. The Browns organization has every right to try to find a legal exit to the contract with the TV station. And WOIO made a business – not news – decision to enter that contract.

And we would be much more impressed with “19 Action News” if the story were not the sobs of a mother who just lost her 6 year-old daughter, but some sort of actual news story involving Randy Lerner or his operations. If Lerner, say, were in some sort of legal hot water, WOIO would be expected…if not demanded…to cover such a story fairly and accurately. This is not the same thing.

To call what WOIO did an “act of integrity” is about the funniest thing we’ve read in the Plain Dealer since we hit the comic section…

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