Friday, December 16, 2005

Newsrooms for Sale?

From the "we know what we are and now are just negotiating a price" file, Clear Channel Communications has proved it is a broadcaster whose call letters begin with a W but have five letters, not four, if you know what I mean.

I hadn't heard about this one until this note from the Society of Professional Journalists:

The Society of Professional Journalists urges Clear Channel radio group to stop allowing its stations to sell naming rights to their newsrooms. WIBA, a Clear Channel radio station in Madison, Wis., sold the naming rights for its newsroom to a local bank.
WIBA is a news/talk station. I don't see this on the station's Web site yet. Do we even need to elaborate on how bad this potentially is? Read more.

As SPJ President David Carlson notes, it isn't the first time. There was the old "Camel News Caravan" on NBC. “It was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now,” Carlson said. “Perhaps that’s why it’s been 49 years since NBC quit the practice.”

Additional after original post ...

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Clear Channel's local exec says its Milwaukee station, WISN-AM, sold its newsroom naming rights to Pyramax Bank last year (although nothing is said on WISN's Web site.) Jeff Tyler, vice president of Clear Channel Radio-Madison, said the high cost of maintaining a newsroom requires such money-raising measures. (No word on what standards, if any, Clear Channel has here. I mean, what if a strip club wanted to buy a piece of the action. Or how about a political candidate? -- "And now from the Mayor Joe Smith newsroom ...")

The Journal quotes James Baughman, director of UW-Madison's journalism school as undisturbed -- just seeing it as a return to broadcast practices of the 1950s. Yep, that's the ticket -- keep regressing at a time when the rest of the world is moving forward.

And Baughman underscores the ridiculousness of that with this quote about the Camel News Caravan: "They even had a rule that they would not show a cigar or a 'no smoking' sign on air, although they made an exception for Winston Churchill." No bias or shading of the news there, huh? What, me worry ...

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