TV Ratings Don’t Lie: Winners and Losers in Yesterday’s Weather Wars

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The biggest ratings days of the year for local TV are bad weather days. That’s why the entire weather team comes in, coverage is expanded through the day and poor reporters are standing in the snow trying to come up with something new to say for their 17th live report of the day.

So which station and which weather team does Philadelphia turn to with the year’s biggest snowstorm barreling towards the area? The answer is in the ratings. And the answer is…

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TV News Is Broken and The Ratings Suck. So Tell Your Own Story.

For most of my adult life, I have been a walking billboard for media access. A week doesn’t go buy that someone stops me to tell me a story that ends with the question: “How do I get my story on TV?”

Some of the stories are heartbreaking. Some of the stories expose government oppression or judicial injustice. Some tell the story of fear in a crime-ridden area. They are stories that should be told.

But at a time when TV news ratings are at a record low and managers are trying to figure out how to hold on to every viewer, these stories don’t get told.

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WATCH: Diane Sawyer Heads Back to Strawberry Mansion High School

Since Diane Sawyer first visited Strawberry Mansion high school last May, Nightline reports, several positive developments have occurred. One, the school is no longer on the city’s “persistently dangerous” list. Two, for the first time ever, it’s got a football team. (Go Knights!). Here’s the video of Sawyer’s follow-up, which aired last night.

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Why Did Al Roker and Matt Lauer Undergo a Dangerous Prostate Exam on Live TV?

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In November, the men of the Today show stopped shaving to raise awareness for men’s health, specifically testicular and prostate cancer. November is a key ratings month in television and the Beards for Better Balls stunt was attention-getting for a good cause.

But when a couple of the Today men decided to get their prostates checked live on the show. Well, pardon the pun, but they scraped bottom. It was inaccurate, unethical and dangerous. All of which I found out from my doctor when I went in for a physical the other day. He wanted to talk more about Matt Lauer and Al Roker’s prostates than mine.

“I watched it live,” my doctor told me, “and couldn’t believe they were pushing the PSA test.”

The test is no longer recommended or even considered safe by most in the medical world, but you wouldn’t have known that from the Today show-and-tell.

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And Now, a Song About Mort Crim, Ron Burgundy and Anchorman

On Wednesday morning, I published an interview with Mort Crim, the former Philadelphia news anchor who inspired Will Ferrell to create Ron Burgundy and Anchorman. Crim was kind enough to humor me by reading Ron Burgundy lines from the original movie (the sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, opens on December 18th), which I included as audio clips with that interview. But the clips just didn’t seem to do it justice. So I wrote a song. Read more »

Listen to Mort Crim, Will Ferrell’s Inspiration for Anchorman, Recite the Film’s Iconic Lines [UPDATED]

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In case you haven’t been paying attention, Anchorman 2 is coming out soon, and Will Ferrell has been making the (early) publicity rounds, including by anchoring a real live newscast as Ron Burgundy, his ridiculous character in the movies. The New York Times recently interviewed Ferrell about the origins of Ron Burgundy and Anchorman, and Ferrell pointed to Jessica Savitch’s co-anchor in Philadelphia, Mort Crim:

The inspiration for the original “Anchorman” came one evening more than a decade ago when Mr. Ferrell was watching a television documentary about Jessica Savitch, one of the first women to anchor news telecasts. He was struck by a former co-anchor of hers in Philadelphia, who delivered his reminiscences in a silky baritone. “He literally said the line: ‘You have to remember, back then I was a real male chauvinist pig. I was not nice to her.’ ”

I called the 78-year-old Crim at his home in Florida to see if Ferrell does the role justice. Read more »

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