Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Spat Inside the News Bid-ness

The scoop squabble that has broken out between Roanoke's local daily newspaper and WDBJ7 television is a comic opera in full flower. It's a classic "did not/did, too" scenario with the TV station initially reporting big doin's at the Taubman Museum of Art and the paper saying the report was inaccurate.

Effectively, the TV station's team of reporters (and I've counted at least three working on it so far) reported that "sources" told them the Taubman, which has been under considerable financial stress of late, is looking for partners and for working models that would change its operation formula. I'm not so sure that's big news, since most arts organizations are doing the same things on an on-going basis, but the report comes on the heels of the resignation from the board of Jenny Taubman, who raised a great deal of money for the $66 million project. So, it looks suspicious to an enterprising young reporter and if somebody inside bends the reporter's ear, that ear gets bigger.

The local daily's arts reporter, Mike Allen, is a veteran news reporter with an interest in the arts (he writes and acts) and he has good sources. His report effectively said the TV station was overreacting and that nothing important is going on.

For as long as I've been in the news business (since 1964), the nasty squabble between print reporters and TV newsies has been escalating. The print boys arrogantly dismiss electronic reporters as pretenders and often believe themselves to be the only legitimate source for news. The electronic sector--which has some very good reporters, like Joe Dashiell--has always had something of an inferiority complex balanced by that local stardom that comes with being familiar to people ("Hey, didn't you used to be ...").

This a.m., Channel 7 hit back at the local daily's report, saying, "Is, too!" (I also noted that the TV station refused to say the newspaper's name publicly, calling it "a local newspaper.")

Stay tuned. Those institutions don't have much use for each other and this could get good.


  1. Currently, as of this date, Oct 4, I find it interesting that museum officials are talking only with the newspaper. *Nobody* with the museum is talking to WDBJ, even though WDBJ has asked for comment. I wonder, "what gives?"

  2. Roy, because Debbie Meade is on Taubman Board.

    Board Director at The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge expects it to close in a year.