Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No Jimmy

So it's not Jimmy Hoffa, as analysis of the jawbone found in
Bloomfield Township is more than 200 years old, and possibly 1,000
years old.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chaos in Cambridge

Actually, it wasn't chaos. It was business as usual, but now that Barack Obama has stepped into it, it's even bigger news.
The problem with the arrest (and subsequent dropping of misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges) of a prominent black professor at Harvard is that both sides refused to take the high road. 
And it's too bad that in our society, taking the high road is no longer considered a valiant option.
Why step up to the plate and do the right thing when there's the low road to take. In this age of snark and hate, that's the option that proves best? (Just look at Oxford Vilalge Councilman Michael Hamilton's wife's run in with Fox 2 -- reporter could have apologized and wife could have walked away -- but we wouldn't have that great footage to run again and again and again, would we?).
In Cambridge, police Sgt. James Crowley was right to investigate a report of a man breaking home by putting shoulder into a door. And the neighbor was right to report seeing someone breaking into a door.
Of course, Henry Louis Gates Jr. was right to be annoyed at being questioned by officers when he was trying to get through the jammed door of his own home. And he was right to be annoyed if the officer walked into his home without permission. And he was further right to be upset if officer refused to give him his name.
But Gates was wrong if he started screaming and yelling at the officer. Take the high road and thank him for doing what is usually a crappy job.
And the officer was wrong if he couldn't step away from an angry homeowner. He complained in a story about being "verbally assailed," but hey, you know you have a crappy job and just like a waiter, checkout clerk or anyone else in the public, you have to occasionally put up with a jerk. The rest of us aren't given arrest powers to exploit when we're being hassled. 
Just take the high road. 
But in the end, arresting a prominent black scholar who was questioned at his own home is stupid. Just take the high road, walk away and save yourself, your department and your entire profession the embarrassment of doing something so ridiculous.
As quoted by The Associated Press, Richard Weinblatt, director of the Institute of Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College, suggested: Who's the professional in this situation. The officer was on the job. The professor was getting home after a trip.
If you can't deal with a jerk without going on the power trip, get a new job.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Interest in MJ fading fast

It appears after the onslaught of Michael Jackson news, interest has
waned quickly. Two weeks ago, his music accounted for about half of
the top ten lists (songs and albums) on iTunes.
Last week, he was down to a couple songs and couple of albums.
This week, he is off the top ten list of songs downloaded, and only
his "Essential Michael Jackson" album was in the top-ten list for
albums and this only ranked at number 4.
Who is hot? The Black Eyed Peas have had top songs or multiple songs
throughout the month.
Also, this week sees the addition of the Harry Potter soundtrack
album in the top ten.
Most interesting to me, "Man on the Moon" was the top MJ song two
weeks ago, beating out "Beat It" and "Billie Jean."
My wife downloaded those last two songs after he died but I think
that was it. I'm sure a lot of people had to update their collections
as their MJ music was likely cassette or vinyl and those require work
to download onto iTunes or mp3 players.

Monday, July 20, 2009

End of an era

Actually, it ended decades ago, but the passing of newscasting giant Walter Cronkite shows how much the world of news in general and broadcast news in particular has changed.
When I was a child and started watching the news regularly with my parents, Dan Rather was the anchor at CBS. Then I remember Tom Brokaw at NBC and Peter Jennings at ABC, and for my entire youth into adulthood, those three were the faces of news. By 1983, two years after Rather took over from Cronkite, anything that changed the world, those three guys gave to you.
I remember watching reports about the Iraq-Iran war from these guys, one of the consistent stories that seemed to be a daily bit for years.
But I had missed out on the prior generation's news, led by a single figure, who was rightfully known as the most trusted man in America.
Nowadays, it's a complete mess when it comes to the news, scattered across dozens of channels and showcasing shout-fests and opinionated pieces that are more comedy than news - with comedy that is more news than the news.
It makes sense that more people can provide more ideas, but something valuable has been lost.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How long does Conan have?

Conan O'Brien is falling further behind David Letterman and it
appears that Dave's jump was more than his spat with Sarah Palin.
Are people sick of Conan or not used to him?
Last week, Letterman beat the Tonight Show by a margin not seen since
his return from heart surgery in 2000, according to The Associated
I think NBC is not too worried, because O'Brien still draws the
younger crowd, who advertisers worship. And they're waiting for Jay
Leno to return with his 10 p.m. weeknight show, which could provide a
good lead in (unless it does the opposite, and takes away from the
NBC late night comedy audience).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

McCourt ill

Author Frank McCourt is gravely ill, his brother reported, according
to an Associated Press story.
Interesting fellow, based on 'Angela's Ashes,' his best-known work.
Recently, stories surfaced that TV news icon Walter Cronkite was
seriously ill and may die. But he's held on, not becoming one of the
recent string of celebrity deaths.
Who's next?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lots of fire news

News comes in bunches. Just as the AirFrance disaster was followed by
another Air Bus crash in Africa, making for a lot of plane crash
news, today's Oakland County news is heavy with fires.
First, there's the apartment fire in Auburn Hills late Tuesday
evening, and this morning we followed reports of an overnight, or
early morning really, blaze in Farmington Hills. Then, shortly after
9 a.m. today, there was a house explosion in Hazel Park.
No one died in the fires, but two adults were injured in the Hazel
Park explosion, both suffering extensive burns. Luckily, the woman's
toddler daughter was unhurt in the blast.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reader makes a good point

Shannon a reader makes a good point about a headline on an Associated Press story about a murder conviction in Grand Rapids.
The story, headlined Man faces life in prison for killing prostitute, was short and essentially named the defendant, victim and detailed what happened and when.
Shannon commented: "Why do they have to just say "prostitute" in the headline? There was more to this woman than her choice of income source. It bothers me that the media dehumanizes people for the sake of selling news."
She's right but it's a tough thing to overcome.
Headlines tend to be short and simple, pushing people to read the story but providing enough detail make the story stand out.
'Man kills woman' is too generic.
'Man kills woman he met at industrial park' is too out there, not clear on what or why.
But there ways around the generalizations and dehumanization.
For instance, we could go with 'Man faces life for industrial park slaying.'
Thanks, Shannon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blogger, proven right many times, to give up goldmine

Jim Hopkins, a former business writer and editor at the USA Today, has worked for a year or two on creating an online community for the tens of thousands of people who work for the paper's parent company, Gannett.
Today, the Today Show on NBC reported that rumors of impending layoffs numbering 2,000 will be coming from Gannett, which also owns the Detroit Free Press. Other reports put it at less, but everyone involved is still waiting for the official word.
If true, this is another successful scoop for Hopkins, as his Gannett blog first reported this several weeks ago, giving something like July 6th or 8th as the date the layoffs or reductions must be completed by.
Now, Hopkins' info comes from posters, his readers; all he does is provide a forum for the community to engage one another and share thoughts, ideas and, most importantly, news tips on their company, whether employee or stockholder or interested party.
It's not perfect, one reason I'm sure that Hopkins is abandoning his project. 
If you are interested in how such a site could be the future model of discussion groups or forums (as more consumers seek only the news they are interested in, not the full scope offered by the traditional newspaper), check it out. 
Instead of ideas, thoughts and tips, the site quickly devolved into insults, hate speak, and mostly lengthy repetitious rants against management in general and individuals in particular.
And everyone has reason to be unhappy, as the stock price has sunk to just a couple bucks from highs in the $50s just two years ago and papers' and tv stations' staffs have been reduced.
Hopkins said earlier that he was giving up the blog, saying it was to only be temporary project, but interest exploded and he nailed several stories -- including a massive round of layoffs in December that was first reported on his blog.
But the interest brought the negativity and after a lot of drama with him injecting himself into the commentary and story, he announced last month or so that he was closing shop in October to work on another project. 
Then he cut off the ability to post comments anonymously and the number of comments fell from 60 to 150 a day to about three or four. Anonymous comments are back and so is the info and the hate, but now he's shutting down in a week or so.
He's endorsed a follow up blogger to follow in his path, but check out his current effort as it is a great case study in what can be done and what one must deal with to do it.