Sunday, October 23, 2005

BN9, Times Create 'Connections'

The St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9 are joining forces for a joint venture called Political Connections. The program will air Sundays at 11 a.m., starting Oct. 30. That’s one day before Halloween, which leads TBM to wonder: Will the program be a Trick or a Treat?

Gov. Jeb Bush may find out. Reason: He’s scheduled to be the first guest on this new public affairs gig. (Suspected question out of the gate: “Will you be running for Prez, Gov?”)

Hosting the inaugural PC (no pun) will be long-time Bay area news anchor Al Ruechel of Bay News 9 and Times political editor Adam C. Smith. (Sidebar: Smith had an excellent 1-A piece Sunday, Oct. 23, in which he shared what it's like to be a victim of identity theft. Definitely a “must read.”) In subsequent episodes, other Times team members will join the BN9 anchor to interview various newsmakers.

With industrial-strength heavyweights Ruechel and Smith, PC starts out with a good pedigree. TBM hopes it can deliver. The Bay area deserves programs of substance, especially when it comes to politics.

Btw, Tampa Bay has a tradition of mixing and matching media – something broadly called “convergence” in “the industry,” though the BN9-Times connection would seem to fall somewhat outside that more formal word-umbrella.

TBM is no expert in (or out of) the convergence field, and so shares, with little comment, some summaries from The Media Center, “a nonprofit think tank committed to building a better-informed society in a connected world.”

Bay area “Convergence Activities” noted by TMC:

Tribune, WFLA-TV (NBC), TBO
Tampa, FL
News, Advertising, Promotion
Partnership Description: One of most converged. Helped greatly by new, common facility and extremely committed leadership (locally and corporate). Strong cross-selling success. Still not satisfied with progress.

Herald-Tribune, Six News Now (SNN),
Sarasota, FL
News, Advertising, Promotion
Partnership Description: Could well be the "most converged," thanks to committed leadership, one manager over all media, common newsroom, paper's ownership of cable news operation.
Related Links:

St. Petersburg Times, WTSP-TV (CBS), St. Petersburg Times Online
St. Petersburg FL, Tampa/St. Petersburg FL
News, Advertising
Partnership Description: Cross promotion, occasional converged sharing.
SOURCE: The Media Center

Such cooperation amongst and within the media matrix can be, as Martha Stewart says, “a good thing” if it adds to larger public discussion geometrically – which is to say that a cross-pollination takes place that produces a true hybrid. For example, television was not merely radio with images, though some early transitional figures treated it so, such as the anchored “news-reader” John Cameron Swayze.

Conversely, witness the success of the dynamic and intense Edward R. Murrow who, when hiring correspondents, sought out print people who could really write, and whose emergence in the golden era of television can be attributed as much to his commitment to substance as to his strict, staccato delivery.

In summary, not everyone will be lasered to the screen when Smith and Ruechel launch Political Connections, but enough eyeballs of consequence will be. TBM wishes the duo well, and hopes they set a standard of substance and style high enough to warrant a buzz that will elevate the discussion on a variety of key issues from race relations to education to evacuation.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kids.

NOTE: Bay News 9 is only available on Bright House Networks.


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