Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Pullet Surprise

There was a moment in the Sunday night Grammy Awards telecast that should have made every Madisonian stand up and do a fist-pump. It was when Green Day thanked Butch Vig for his help in their success. The band won the award for Best Rock Album for their album “21st Century Breakdown”.

Yet, just about the only place you could find mention of the hat-tip to one of Madison’s stellar musicians was on the internet. Wire stories in the local paper; packaged network stuff from the local TV’s Monday morning.

One of my friends e-mailed me decrying the fact that on the station that carried the Grammy Awards, the local news that followed the broadcast made no mention of the Green Day shout-out. They talked about the telecast and the awards, but made no mention of the thank-you to Vig.

I suppose it’s possible the young folks doing the news don’t know who Butch Vig is, and what he’s meant to music not only in Madison, but to the world.

This is either another sign that my friend and I have become dinosaurs in the media world, or that local news has taken a real hit here with the downsizing of so many print and broadcast news departments in the past year or so. So much experience has been lost. So much perspective has been lost.

Tom Petner, a veteran award-winning journalist, writes a column for the broadcast news magazine called “News Pro”. Like me, he’s often amazed not only at the loss of talent in newsrooms across the country, but by the sometimes shocking lack of knowledge by those who work in broadcast news now, and those who want to.

His column this month tells the story of an applicant for a TV news job, who listed, under “awards and achievements,” a link to bikini.com, where she was featured as girl-of-the-month.

A national media headhunter told Petner one of her all-time favorite stupid mistakes was from someone who submitted a resume listing as a reference a person who was a “Pullet Surprise Nominee.”

That’s “Pulitzer Prize Nominee,” for those of you who don’t follow journalism closely.

And there was the story of the young TV anchor wannabe who submitted a resume video, which contained some examples of the person’s on-air work, and then ended…no doubt unintentionally…with some very intimate footage of the anchor in the bedroom.

Way to check your work before you broadcast it!

I often wonder what it is that attracts young people to broadcast news these days. Too many of them don’t seem to be really inquisitive; their writing and speaking skills are horribly deficient; they seem to have no historical or community perspective; and don’t seem to be really interested in current events.

Must be the long hours and crappy pay.


  1. Total stupidity is not limited to journalists...

    Denuding most organizations of senior-level supervisors and/or senior producers (worker-bees) has resulted in zillions of stupid and un-informed decisions.

    But hey! Experience costs money, and we can't afford all that experience.

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