BRIDGE CREATED FROM PUBLIC TO CABLE NEWS NETS

In what Broadcast & Cable magazine described as a case of "you report, we decide," both Fox News and CNN relied heavily on video and cell-phone reports from citizens close to the scene of the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Wednesday. CNN alone aired 96 "I-Reports" from the accident scene, the trade publication said. (It was not clear whether these aired exclusively on the cable channel or whether some aired on CNN's website -- or on both.) Fox News boasted that it hit the air ahead of its rivals at 7:31 p.m. with footage from Fox affiliate KMSP. CNN followed four minutes later and aired its first "I-Report," an interview with an eyewitness, at 7:45 p.m. On Thursday, CNN got a big break when it received security-camera footage of the actual collapse of the bridge. Later in the evening, Charles Gibson anchored ABC's World News from a helicopter flying over the collapsed bridge.

EDWARDS STEPS UP ATTACK ON FOX NEWS AND MURDOCH

Presidential candidate John Edwards has called on his Democratic rivals to refuse to accept contributions from News Corp as a way of protesting its purchase of The Wall Street Journal. (The leading candidate, Hillary Clinton, has reportedly received some $100,000 from News Corp and the company's executives.) In a statement, Edwards said, "A strong democracy begins and ends with a strong, unbiased and fair media -- all qualities which are pretty hard to subscribe to Fox News and News Corp." Earlier this year, Edwards pulled out of a televised debate presented by Fox News. "The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party," he said in Thursday's statement.

VIACOM TO ALTER TRADITIONAL ADS ON ITS CABLE CHANNELS

Viacom-owned cable networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Night, Comedy Central, and BET, plan to experiment in the way they present commercials in order to "maximize viewer retention," the company's CEO, Philippe Dauman, said during a conference call following release of the company's second-quarter earnings report. The company, he said, plans to test shorter but more frequent commercial clusters (called "pods"). Another plan, he said, will be "to introduce programming elements inside the commercial pods." Finally, he suggested, ad pricing will take into account the order in which commercials appear within the pods. Much of the experimentation would appear to be a reaction to Nielsen's plan to measure viewership of commercials rather than the shows in which they appear and may be unrelated to issues involving the use of digital recorders, like ad skipping and delayed viewing.

ANCHOR, MANAGEMENT DISCIPLINED AT L.A. STATION

Mirthala Salinas, anchor for KVEA, the Telemundo TV station in Los Angeles, who was identified as "the other woman" in the break-up of the marriage of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was suspended without pay for two months Thursday for allegedly continuing to report on the mayor's activities and marital problems while engaging in an affair with him. Ibra Morales, who oversees the Spanish-language network's local stations, was reprimanded, KVEA General Manager Manuel Abud was reassigned, and News Director Al Corral was suspended in the wake of the scandal. In an internal memo, Telemundo President Don Browne observed that Salinas and the station's management had flagrantly violated journalistic standards. "While the content and accuracy of KVEA's newscasts were not compromised," he said, "our news policy standards with respect to conflict of interest were clearly violated." In an interview with today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times, former ABC News correspondent Judy Muller, who now teaches journalism at USC, said, "I don't know where [Salinas] goes from Telemundo. ... A reporter only has her credibility, and once that's sullied you have lost your value to your news organization."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.