CELLPHONE CAPTURES VIRGINIA MASSACRE
Television networks interrupted regular programming and dispatched anchors to Blacksburg, VA Monday following what was repeatedly described as the deadliest shooting on a college campus in American history. But it was the cellphone video taken by grad student Jamal Albarghouti outside Virginia Tech's Norris Hall at the time of the shootings that provided the most memorable images and sounds of the tragedy. Just moments after he had captured the sounds of 27 shots fired by the gunman, Albarghouti sent his video to CNN's I-Reports website, and it went on the air. The video later was distributed to other cable and broadcast news outlets -- and the Internet. "It was the worst shooting ever, but it was also yet another tragedy in which television turned first to amateur reporters on the scene," TV writer Alessandra Stanley wrote in today's (Tuesday) New York Times. Added the Chicago Tribune's TV writer, Phil Rosenthal: "We live in a new news world in which the media deputize the public: Call if you see news happening; but better still, send video, send audio, send still pictures."
ADS TO "STICK" TO ONLINE VIDEO
New software that will allow TV producers to post programs online but force viewers to watch commercials attached to them was unveiled by Adobe Systems Monday. The software will also allow video to be downloaded and played offline on PCs or portable devices. "Adobe has created the first way for media companies to release video content, secure in the knowledge that advertising goes with it," James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, told the BBC Monday.
NBC RETURNS TO NAB FOLD
NBC selected the opening day of the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas to announce that it had decided to rejoin the organization after a seven-year absence. The network -- along with ABC, CBS, and Fox -- left the NAB after the group went on record in opposition to new deregulation proposals lifting the caps on the number of stations owners may acquire. ABC returned to the fold in 2005, but CBS and Fox have not.
IDOL CONTESTANT TURNS PURPLE GREEN
In another demonstration of the influence of related entertainment media on Broadway, the appearance of former American Idol contestant Fantasia Barrino in the musical stage version of The Color Purple has sent ticket sales through the roof. Sales totaled $1,183,722 during her first week, up 45 percent from $817,124 the previous week. Her scheduled Broadway appearance had been promoted on Idol and on Oprah Winfrey's talk show. (Winfrey is a producer of the Broadway show.) Meanwhile, Playbill said on its website Monday that a "29-hour rehearsed reading" for a musical version of Spider-Man has been scheduled for July 2, to be followed by a reading of the production on July 12 and 13. A casting notice, the Broadway publication said, has indicated that the musical will be directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) with songs by U2's Bono and The Edge.
FANS CALL FOR IMUS'S REINSTATEMENT
Fans of Don Imus have begun campaigning for his reinstatement. An online petition in which the signers acknowledge "the full extent of the offense caused by Don Imus's recent comments" goes on to say that removing him from the airways is "excessive, unfair and wrong" and creates "a First Amendment-crushing precedent." In a comment, one fan remarked that Imus had been a victim of people who had never listened to him and "didn't understand the show or his style ... while we, the actual audience who was already supporting the advertisers on the show were somehow left out of the discussion."
OLBERMANN TO RETURN TO SPORTS
Keith Olbermann, who segued from CNN and ESPN sportscaster to MSNBC political commentator, has been added to NBC's Sunday-night football coverage. The network said Monday that Olberman will join Bob Costas, Cris Collingsworth, Jerome Bettis and Tiki Barber during the weekly highlights show, Football Night in America. "I'm delighted to welcome him back into the NBC Sports family," NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol said in a statement.