[UPDATE] WJTV to Re-Air Debate, Apologizes for Mess-Up | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[UPDATE] WJTV to Re-Air Debate, Apologizes for Mess-Up

Debate will re-air Wednesday at 7 p.m. See comments for WJTV's full apology.

April 17, 2005—The televised debate between mayoral candidates Harvey Johnson Jr. and Frank Melton at Murrah High School ended minutes ago. But if you were watching on television, you did not hear most of the mayor's closing statement—as the CBS affiliate cut in with a Gray Daniels commercial just as Johnson was talking about the importance of voting—using Fannie Lou Hamer and Medgar Evers to illustrate his point—and then cut back at the end of Johnson's statement. Asked by a JFP reporter about the incident, WJTV News Director Richard Russell said minutes ago that the station will re-run the mayor's closing statement on the 10 p.m. newscast. He said that the station is not going to announce that the full statement will be aired later, as they will have a much larger audience then than they had now. "Someone pushed a wrong button at the wrong time. It was an accident," Russell said.

WJTV is owned by Media General out of Richmond, Va., one of 25 stations in the South and Midwest owned by the company. The company also owns more than two dozen newspapers.

Keep an eye on the JFP for a detailed story (by a locally owned outlet) about the mayoral debate.

Previous Comments

ID
169203
Comment

Mistakes happen...hopefully many who watched the debate wondered why and tuned in to their 10 p.m. newscast to see the entire closing statement. The fact that more people got to see that statement at 10 p.m. than tuned in to the debate itself is telling...if in fact more people do watch their 10 p.m. report than did the debate. Can't wait to read the JFP observations....and I just have to laugh everytime I think of the LWV representative who also had her own moment in calling upon Mayor Thompson....uh....Mayor Johnson.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-17T21:43:55-06:00
ID
169204
Comment

Yeah, you couldn't have two people more different than Johnson and Mayor Allen "Tank" Thompson. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-17T22:08:05-06:00
ID
169205
Comment

This was a bad error, though, for the only TV station broadcasting the debate. It's ridiculousówhy don't they have a series of real debates and/or forums, and then all of the stations broadcast them? I hate TV. They get rich off political campaigns, but do such a miserable job of covering them. And Melanie Christopher's anger about businesses leaving South Jackson might have been touching were her TV station not such a serious part of the problem of spreading overblown perceptions about Jackson. As it was, I rolled my eyes. Why don't they become part of the solution? Oh, because they're owned by a Virginia company perhaps (another one), and their owners don't really care about Jackson?

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-17T22:15:04-06:00
ID
169206
Comment

Since when have Jackson television stations covered events with the same dedication, talent, and unbiased approach of stations in, say, Little Rock or Memphis? Also, why not simulcast on radio for those who have to be away from television for part or all of the "debate". Talk radio carried only the usual weekend network crap.

Author
Sonny Day
Date
2005-04-19T10:38:40-06:00
ID
169207
Comment

Here's WJTV's statement about the mess-up, reported first by the JFP blog: WJTV,†News Channel 12 is giving viewers another opportunity to see the debate between Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson and challenger Frank Melton.† The station will air a special rebroadcast this Wednesday night at 7pm. †††† During Sundayís original broadcast of the live debate, technical errors caused interruptions during the closing statements of Harvey Johnson. So that our viewers may be able to hear Mayor Johnsonís entire closing statement, News Channel 12 will run a special taped version of the complete debate that includes the portions not broadcast on Sunday. †††† WJTV, News Channel 12 apologies to its viewers and to the candidates for the error in the original broadcast.† We hope that viewers will take advantage of the opportunity to see the complete debate, without interruptions, this Wednesday night at 7pm. † Now, if they could just go back and give the candidates more than 60-second sound bites in which to answer (so that the media can complain about only get sound bites. See the cycle here?). BTW, does anyone know if one or both of the candidates requested only 60 seconds??? Would be interesting to know who is responsible for that particular idiocy. I hear the Ward candidates are only getting 60s seconds. Is is the League of Women Voters' fault? OK, I'll put in on our list to find out. But anyone with info, please help. We're loaded down with stuff to Truthwatch over here.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T10:50:47-06:00
ID
169208
Comment

Well....I blame the candidates as much as any media. In sixty seconds you can spend "45 seconds" giving quips and barbs, which both proved they can do very well, and in 15 seconds you can still say "I'll fire the Chief" and "I'll hire more police officers." The candidates choose what to say. No one made them decide to spend their time trying to get the slick talk in and they both did. That's their lost opportunity.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-20T11:21:29-06:00
ID
169209
Comment

I'm not saying the candidates don't have any responsibility. They do. BUT, television in particular drives campaigns these daysófrom the huge advertising money they charge to the sound-bite coverage. And then when a newspaper like The Ledge does such superficial coverage and ignoring issues, and then starts complaining a week or two before the election about the candidates not saying anything, it is just irresponsible. I have had many candidates, and their reps, be pleased when I ask issue-oriented questions (including during Barbour's race, believe it or not), because they say that they're never asked substantive questions. They often get yes-or-no questions, which is interviewing boo-boo No. 1! But what I'm really addressing here is the fact that the media outlets involved in that debate have done little-to-no issues coverage of the election, shown up at very few public appearances by the candidates (not press conferences, appearances where they talk to people), host a debate wanting 60-second answersóand then yell at the candidates for insulting each other. Go back and look at the coverage to dateóthe "local" corporate media barely touched the campaign before Johnson took the gloves off so to speak and started criticizing Melton back (which really happened April 4). Then, suddenly with the homestead-exemption and then voting charge, they were all over it. And then immediately complaining about "negative" campaigns. Meantime, that's the only damn thing that gets their attention. This is the classic horse race-vs.-civic journalism debate that happens over and over again in journalism graduate schoolsóthen the journalists graduate, go to work for corporations that don't want to rock the boat much and hide superficial coverage behind fake objectivity, and this is what we get. Citizens should be outraged at the corporate media; instead, we too often just look at it and see the candidates "going negative," instead of trying to look at the bigger picture of everything that is going on that's creating the problem.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T11:32:50-06:00
ID
169210
Comment

BTW, here's an editorial we ran in November 2003 addressing civil journalism and horse-race campaign coverage. We link there to several sources that provides more info as well.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T11:38:17-06:00
ID
169211
Comment

I have never seen two people act such a fool. That debate was more about grandstanding than about the issues that most folks care about. I look forward to better in the future. I am sure the airing problem was a mistake, but not that you missed much anyway beside eye rolling, finger pointing, and whoopin and hollerin.

Author
bluedog
Date
2005-04-20T14:21:13-06:00
ID
169212
Comment

By any chance is the JFP doing an analysis of the media coverage? Asking the editors and news directors specific questions about why they chose to play off the hype, slick talk, encourage the "no issues is better" philosophy? This might be a good thing to do and get photos of each of the editors and news directors and publish in an upcoming issues of JFP. Even encourage readers to post their thoughts on a specific thread and then print them in the next issue of JFP. You could also add the emails of all the decision makers at the TV stations and CL and encourage your readers to write to them about their coverage. Get with Wyatt and see about jointly hosting a debate and invite the media to cover it, if you cannot get one of them to actually televise it. Also...can we expect to see an upcoming issue before May 3rd with a set of questions asked of each candidate and their responses? This is where you could get the issues in - avoid all the hype line of questioning - and ask what someone like me would want to know - what pieces of Legislation do you feel are needed to move Jackson forward and how will you work with the Legislature to get it accomplished; what condition are our streets in and what kind of four year plan will you put in place to address their deteriorating condition; are Jackson's water and sewer systems under review by the Department of Environmental Quality,if yes, what needs to be done to address DEQs concerns; how much money does Jackson have in a rainy day fund - do we need to save more; do we need to hire more code enforcement officers (in my opinion yes, and there should be as much emphasis put on hiring more of them as their are police officers since neighborhood conditions can contribute to crime and the code enforcement officers can work as additional eyes and ears for police officer); should the city regularly post and disseminate to all neighborhoods a list of monthly code violations and the city resolution of them - just as they post crime statistics...I could go on and on. Go for it, ask the questions formally of each candidate and let us know you have and what issue they will be published in - hopefully before May 3rd. :D

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-20T14:37:53-06:00
ID
169213
Comment

All great ideas, JPF. You're really thinking about this, and I appreciate it. Unfortunately, we do not have time, at this point, to do extensive interviews with the editors and news directors, especially before the election. (And I kind of doubt they would do it; media are the most sensitive about being quoted usually, because they know the truth behind the objectivity myth. ;-) We have to rely on what they broadcast and publishówhich is certainly what ultimately matters in media analysis. I do encourage readers to post their thoughts about it; in fact, I'll be happy to start a TruthWatch thread about media coverage. Would love to host a joint debate with Wyattóbut I must tell you that I'm real sour about forums right now after what happened last week from the Melton side. And there's probably not time to put one togetheróbut if Wyatt wants to try, I'll always game. Re: Q&AsóI've been requesting a sit-down Q&A interview with Frank Melton since early February. It's been cancelled numerous times. I write about that in my editor's note this week, which will be online shortly. We have an interview coming with Smith, as well as with Johnson. Unfortunately, we only have one more issue before the primary. I do like your question suggestions as well. Keep 'em coming. I hope I don't sound negative about your suggestionsóthey're amazing. We have been doing everything in our tiny-small-resources power to cover this election thoroughly and simply can't do everything we'd like to. Poor Adam is taking his little boy to a number of the mayoral events with him so he can be there. (I'm about to do him a little press pass that says "Reporter's Assistant" and give him our little digital camera. Really.) This is part of my frustrationówe've been doing heavy lifting on the campaign, and then the Goliath outlets come along two weeks before the primary and start whining about "negativity" and "no issues," when they've done so little to try to cover what's been happening now for more than TWO monthsóand they can afford to. Then, and I do love this part understand, everyone wants us to do even more because we've done so much and our bar is so high. We're hearing from people wanting to to cover suburban races, and getting tips on stories and problems, but we just don't have the resources to ddo it. And we haven't done nearly as much with the Council races as I would have liked, although Lord knows that Adam and Walker have tried. So I appreciate all the suggestions, and I absolutely promise that we will do everything in our power to get real information out. And I will certainly hold onto any suggestions we don't get to now for the future. Keep the ideas coming. I appreciate them. Keep the faith.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T14:51:44-06:00
ID
169214
Comment

I can understand sit down interviews and appreciate them. But there is something powerful about giving each candidate a list of issue questions - the same questions - having them put their thoughts IN WRITING - not depending on an interview format, but actually IN WRITING - and submitting, knowing every word will be published. There's no heavy lifting and you can even mail or fax them all (with the exception of Annelle, that one may have to be mailed or hand delivered) with the clear notation of deadline - and run verbatim as you receive. I guess I'm encouraging this idea and know that with all the forums you've been to and after reading my post...and others who may have substantive questions to add this evening - you could develop say 10 to 15 questions and put out to the campaigns tomorrow.... Heck....you don't even have to print - publish on line...find a way to put each question up as a separate post and then have all three candidates responses under. Trust me...this will get passed around as quickly as any of your publications.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-20T15:01:49-06:00
ID
169215
Comment

I actually disagree about written questions being more "powerful." In fact, ethically, journalists should never do written interviews. We don't allow them here, although a couple have slipped past me, but I wasn't happy when I found out. We have done some political questionnaires for our election blogs in the past, and some take them seriously, some don't. The biggest problem with them is that they're usually filled out by campaign staff, and so end up being the most politically expedient answers and watered down answers, and usually sound like PR fluff. I specifically decided this campaign not to do questionnaires for the mayoral candidates because we had planned to interview them so often throughout the campaign, and cover what they're saying, and do big interviews with each candidate one on oneóyou get much more honest answers that way. And in an election as intimate as a mayor's race, there's no reason to do cold, distance, written questions.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T15:08:04-06:00
ID
169216
Comment

I guess it's all in the question asked. If you ask a specific question on paper - that makes the candidate research, say the budgets for department and programs, and provide specifics on funding - I would think that a good thing to ask in writing. To me there is a difference in giving questions prior to an interview (which I agree should never be done) versus asking specific, pointed, researched based questions that you know will take some work to provide facts and answer.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-20T16:33:02-06:00
ID
169217
Comment

I've been around this block a lot, JPF. It depends on the candidate. Many of them are reluctant to say anything of substance, and many won't give a single specific, whether it's in writing or not. It sounds better than it actually works.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T16:36:47-06:00
ID
169218
Comment

Thanks for at least reading. I recognize you have been around the block a lot. I guess when I read your comments about what other media is not doing and then I read about how history dictates how other things will not work either, I wonder what the solution is.

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2005-04-20T17:09:34-06:00
ID
169219
Comment

The solution is to keep trying, which is what we're doing with the blog, the Truth Watch, following the candidates everywhere, asking them tough questions, trying to sit down with them and, in the past, giving them written questions. What I'm trying to explain is that things don't always work as well as you think that they will and you have to make choices and allocate resources to what you believe will yield the most information. It doesn't mean you don't try, but it also doesn't mean that you don't learn anything from experience.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-04-20T17:21:37-06:00

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