Archive for March, 2006

Power of Journalism

March 31, 2006

Lisa BernardPrince Charles, fourth graders, stem cell researchers, fishermen, senators, florists, homeless men and women, parking attendants, movie stars, governors who were movie stars… these are just some of the people I interview on any given day of the week. I am privileged to meet such a diverse group of people as I do my work… each of whom teaches me something interesting that I try to pass along. This variety is one of the greatest rewards of being a journalist in the Bay Area.

Speaking of journalism…

This week’s announcement that Commissioner Bud Selig wants to investigate steroid use in Major League Baseball is a true testament to the power of journalism. There had been allegations of steroid use among pro-athletes for years, but it was the book written by two San Francisco Chronicle journalists that has triggered an investigation. Selig appointed former Senator George Mitchell (the guy who brokered peace in Northern Ireland) to investigate steroid use after reading the extensive evidence garnered from 200+ sources. These journalists reviewed court documents, nurtured confidential sources and consulted experts before accusing some of the biggest names in baseball (Barry Bonds in particular) of steroid use. This should be an interesting season!

Lisa Bernard
NBC11 Reporter

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Good Knight, Good Luck

March 30, 2006

Bob RedellI thought I’d be riding a bull for my live shot during our 10 am newscast. It was to promote the Grand National Rodeo – but, as bad weather would have it, it was just too darn muddy for that. So, it was cancelled. But, since I was determined to risk life and limb and hopefully rid the world of one more annoying feature reporter, I went to “Knight School” instead. No joke. A place in San Jose actually suits you up in armor and teaches you how to sword fight. Think Darth Vader vs. the Tin Man. (Tin Man be me. Took some nice hits to the head. Lots of fun.) Keep an eye out for this story to air next Thursday. I’m jusstt glsadx the conncusshun haz finullay wornn ougffffffffffffff ff f f fffffffffff

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

New Media… Bring it On!

March 30, 2006

Scott McGrewA lot has been made of the Internet’s threat to traditional media. Certainly, we in the television business have seen statistics about young people turning to the internet (and video games) instead of television.

For instance, this young woman has more viewers to her “newscast” shot on a home video camera than most any traditional TV newscast in the country. Dooce (may include frank content), a stay-at-home mom in Salt Lake City, has half as many daily readers as the San Jose Mercury News.

I’ve never been much worried about this “threat,” as I see our role as journalists to be content creators. Whether we deliver that content on television, over the Internet or over some other technology does not seem terribly relevant to me. Much as radio journalists like Edward R. Murrow adjusted to the new technology of television, we in television can adjust to the new technologies of the Internet. NBC has some neat initiatives ahead. It’s a great time to be in the business.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

A Who a-What?!

March 29, 2006

Mike Inouye A Who a-What?!

A Sig Alert.

A what?

A Sig Alert.

You will not get by in lane one,
You will not get by. That’s no fun.
The backup stretches with no end.
The Sig Alert’s your only friend.

I know… it sounds more like something from a Dr. Seuss book than from a traffic report. Can we really take something like that seriously?

Well, I meant what I said.
I said what I meant.
A Sig Alert matters, one hundred percent.

During my reports, I try to mention that a Sig Alert is a special warning issued when traffic is expected to be severely impacted through an area for 30 minutes or more. (That’s what our friends at CHP say in their glossary.)

I tell you about Sig Alerts so that you’ll know what areas to AVOID, and what delays you’ll have to expect as you prepare to head out your door weekday mornings.

But how did we get this term?

Legend has it the phrase was coined by Los Angeles-area radio reporter, Loyd Sigmon, in the 1940s. The LA Times published a very nice article about him upon his passing in 2004. You can read it here.

Though Mr. Sigmon has passed, his legacy lives on through his many contributions to the systems that impact our everyday life; including the phrase commuters all over California dread hearing. The list is impressive but for my morning reports you need only remember this:

Sig Alert = Problems for Your Commute

Heck, since this was a term he made up, maybe I should start issuing “Mikey’s No Ways,” ‘cuz there’s no way you’re zipping thru those areas.

Hmmm.

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Record Rain

March 28, 2006

Shannon O'DonnellIt’s not just your imagination–it HAS been a terribly soggy month of March. So much so, that it will likely go down in the record books as our wettest March ever. Not just in terms of rain totals (most of us have seen several inches of rainfall this month already), but in terms of NUMBER OF DAYS of rainfall.

For instance, San Francisco has seen 22 days of rainfall this month so far, and we’ll likely make that 24 or 25 days by the end of the month on Friday. The old record for ‘number of days of rain’ for March in the City by the Bay was 23 days, set back in 1904. We should easily tie that Wednesday, and surpass it with the next storm coming in Thursday night and Friday morning.

And no foolin’…Saturday, the first of April, looks a bit wet as well. We’ll be glad to see this March go; hopefully April will finally bring us some sunshine instead of spring showers!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Commute Frustrations at 3AM?

March 24, 2006

Shannon O'DonnellWhat is the deal with roadwork and the detour signs used to steer commuters back to their intended path? Take the off-again, on-again detour that goes up along southbound 101, for instance. Often, they close the stretch of highway near Mountain View between midnight and five a.m. (not a bother to most people, I know, but it sure forces me to take the scenic route on MY middle-of-the-night commute…) Everybody in the South Bay knows this particular construction project has been going on for eons. Different parts of the highway are closed at different times. So, there are oodles of orange detour signs sprinkled through the nearby connector streets. When a detour is not in effect, they halfway cover up the detour sign with a board. Sometimes.

Often, they forget to UN-cover some of the detour signs, and RE-cover the ones that aren’t currently in use. On the detour off 101, I made the mistake of actually FOLLOWING the detour signs and ended up lost up in the Los Altos Hills. I was just going in circles, passing empty strip-malls, and becoming more and more lost in the suburbs. You can’t pull over and ask anybody directions at that hour–nobody else is around!

After studying a few maps and planning my route, I was able to figure out the detour, and now I’m the ‘expert’ on it in the morning…but I always see other drivers very puzzled as to what to do. They get veered off the freeway unexpectedly, thrown into side-streets they’re not familiar with (and in the dark at 3 a.m., to boot), and then have to deal with a bevy of detour signs that contradict one another and send them to Timbuktu.

So, I guess this is a plea to whomever is in charge of such things: please uncover the signs pointing folks in the right direction. Thank you!!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

SciFi & Security

March 23, 2006

Scott McGrew
I enjoy all of my assignments, but Thursday I had a real plum. I got to interview Ronald D. Moore, creator of Battlestar Galactica. This is one of my all time favorite TV shows.

I’m actually not much of a science fiction fan, but this new version of the old 70’s classic is fascinating. Rather than dwell on space battles, the show delves into politics, religion, social justice and ethics. It doesn’t take long before you realize the plot — a fight between humans and robotic Cylons — is an allegory of the fight between the Western world and Al-Qaeda. It’s not a show for kids. Check it out on the SciFi channel, Friday nights.

So it was great fun to interview the man who invented the whole series, because I could ask all the questions a fan wants to ask. I will of course run the interview at some point, but I’m also intending to learn about podcasting so I can post the whole interview in audio format — maybe create a series of downloadable interviews with interesting people. There are lots of interesting things we can do with this new blog.

Did you see this article about the loss of more than 190,000 financial records? I can’t fathom why people put sensitive records on easy-to-lose laptops without encrypting them first. So I’m making DesLock encryption software our “gadget of the week.” Download a free 60 day trial here. You put the software on any USB key and you can encrypt anything on your computer. Insert the USB key into the USB slot, and the data is unscrambled. Take the key out, and the data is rescrambled.

You might think you have nothing on your laptop that needs to be scrambled. But if your laptop were lost or stolen, are you sure you’d want those vacation pictures in the hands of a stranger? You know, the ones from Cozumel? Yes, those pictures.

I thought not.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Breakfast Blogging

March 21, 2006

Laura Garcia CannonWelcome to the NBC11 Breakfast Blog! We anticipate this will be a fun place to get a little sneak peek behind the scenes. While we may not divulge all our secrets, we’ve got to keep some things to ourselves! It may be fun to answer some of the regular questions such as, “What time do you really get up in the morning?” What is it like working side by side with your spouse?” and “Do you plan your outfits to match your co-anchor?”

Brent CannonIt takes a lot of crew to put on a morning show, let alone, over 3 hours of live television (yes it’s live, we’re really sitting there at 5am) so thru this blog you’ll have the chance to hear from a lot of the staff of NBC11 mornings. You may know our faces, but we always think it’s important to give credit to the people who get our faces and stories and sound and pictures on the air! It’s a fun dedicated group, making it a great place to come to work everyday. We look forward to telling some stories to share why NBC11 is such an important part of our lives. We hope you have just as much fun reading about it.

Laura Garcia Cannon and Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchors