REJECTED ABC NEWS REPORTS TURN UP ONLINE

The Internet can be a powerful agent for journalists to seek out sources for investigative reports, according to Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent. In an interview with Mark Glaser, who runs a blog called MediaShift, Ross noted that the network's story about former Congressman Mark Foley's sexually explicit messages to congressional pages first appeared on the ABC news site, The Blotter. "It took the first turn of the little story to get the bigger story, and if we had not run that first story [on the Internet], we never would have got those pages' instant messages," Ross said. "I don't know that somebody would figure out a way to get through to the ABC switchboard. ... But this [the website] worked out beautifully." (Ross disclosed that when his colleagues called Foley's office in an effort to authenticate the controversial instant messages, a representative of the Congressman later confirmed, "Yeah, those are his. He's going to resign, and we want to make a deal with you not to use them.") Moreover, Ross added, the website allows reports that the ABC investigative team has developed but, for one reason or another, can't get on the air on the network's nightly news or weekly magazine shows to see the light of day. He said that he sees the website "as a way to essentially make better use of all the work we did" on such stories.

NEWS VETS PREDICT NBC NEWS BUDGET CUTS WILL CRIPPLE MORALE

Former CBS News chief Andrew Heyward predicts that recently announced plans by NBC News to ask correspondents to take salary cuts will be "very bad for morale." In an interview with today's (Thursday) Philadelphia Inquirer, Heyward said, "People take it very personally. When you actually pay somebody less, it tends to have a disproportionate psychological impact on the employee, in my experience." Marvin Kalb, former chief diplomatic correspondent for NBC News and CBS News, told the newspaper that if the layoffs don't "affect the quality of the product, [NBC News chief] Steve Capus will be a miracle man. And Bill McLaughlin, another veteran correspondent of CBS and NBC and now a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University, was quoted as saying, "NBC is already cut to the bone. The cuts will be painful. They will weaken NBC."

JANE PAULEY SUES THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jane Pauley, who has conducted her own fair share of interviews for such programs as the Today show, Dateline NBC, and her recently canceled The Jane Pauley Show, has claimed in a lawsuit that she was duped into being interviewed herself for an advertising supplement that appeared a year ago in the New York Times. Pauley has sued the newspaper and DeWitt Publishing, which produced the supplement for manufacturers of psychotherapeutic drugs. (Pauley was interviewed about her battle against bipolar disorder.) She maintained that she was under the impression that she was being interviewed by a Times reporter for a news article, when in fact the interview was conducted by an employee of DeWitt. She insisted that she has never endorsed commercial products. The Times responded that the lawsuit was without merit. "Ms. Pauley's assistant was told that the article for which Ms. Pauley was to be interviewed would appear in a special advertising supplement, and Ms. Pauley agreed to participate," the newspaper said.

THE RETURN OF MUST-SEE-TV?

Hoping to recapture the magic -- and the ratings -- of its once-dominant Must-See-TV night on Thursdays, NBC said Wednesday that effective November 30, it will air back-to-back comedies between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., followed by E.R. in the final hour of primetime. The programming change affects only the 9:00 p.m. hour, as My Name Is Earl and The Office will continue to occupy the 8:00 p.m. time slot. In the tough 9:00 p.m. hour, Scrubs and 30 Rock will go up against Grey's Anatomy on ABC and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS. NBC also announced on Wednesday that it plans to air its critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged Friday Night Lights on Monday next week instead of its usual time period on Tuesday, when it airs opposite ABC's Dancing With the Stars and CBS's NCIS.

IOC VERDICT IN TIME TRIAL

In an apparent effort to molify the world's television networks that will air the 2008 Beijing Olympics in 24 time zones, the IOC today (Thursday) agreed to stage the swimming finals and the major gymnastics events in the morning (primetime in the U.S.), the athletics finals in the evening (primetime in Asia), and the rowing and diving finals in the afternoon (primetime in Europe and Australia). Australia, always a strong competitor in the swimming contests, had protested against demands by the U.S. to hold the swimming finals in the morning. Alan Thompson, head coach of the Australian team, commented to the BBC, "The only thing that gets me cranky is that (the IOC) have made the decision for commercial reasons, not for the good of the sport. ... I don't think swimming in the morning will lessen our chances of picking up medals or anything like that."

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Brian B.