Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Story The Media Didn't Want To Tell

While many Fort Wayne residents are in shock over the video-supported allegations of politicking and other documented shenanigans leading to the collapse of the Fort Wayne City Clerk's office, there are some in town who have known this day might eventually come, and dreaded it. 

Political insiders and democrat party members have known for years how the Clerk's office has operated during election years. No shock to them. 

But those most impacted by the unfolding scandal and resignations of Kennedy, Davis, and Stahlut are members of Fort Wayne's intrepid news media. For them, this was a story they hoped they would never have to cover, because most, if not all in the media, also knew how the Clerk's office functioned, especially during election years. The circle of power in Fort Wayne is quite small, there are only so many elected officials, only so many's much like Mayberry, but with better strip bars. 

For much of the last century government employees were used and abused to help their elected bosses keep their jobs, and their own jobs as well. It wasn't that many years ago, that workers at the Indiana License Branches were still required to kick back 2-5% of their salaries back to the party of their boss to help finance his next campaign. City and county employees as late as the 70's reportedly did the same thing. Thanks to Federal, State, and some local legislative ethics reforms, most of those political activities have been eliminated and many of those abuses have gone by the wayside. However, there are exceptions, as evidenced by the Clerk's Office imploding and ruining the careers of at least three people. While not a cesspool of criminal activity, the video speaks for itself to the current allegations at hand. Logic would indicate that what's seen on the video is not an isolated issue with a reasonable person left to conclude these practices are business as usual, maybe for the last 32 years. 

So, why is our Fort Wayne media covering the story? In the face of real, video evidence, they have no choice. The Maven can only imagine how the editors of the News Sentinel felt their hearts sink and then stick in their throats when Colin Keeney walked into their offices. This was an allegation they had heard before, but never pursued because it represented a classic "he said/she said" situation, and no one wanted to take on a politically powerful icon, with many rich, powerful friends. But now, the allegations had legs, and a video. Two hundred hours of video. This was a game-changer and the News Sentinel had to investigate and act. If they didn't Keeney would simply have to traverse the hall to the Journal Gazette and plead his case there. When Kevin Leininger's story hit the web and print, every other media outlet, even the kids in the WOWO newsroom, had "permission" to climb on the bandwagon and report a story they already knew about, but never wanted to present to their audiences. 

One can only imagine what other stories our media is not telling us. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NBC33 Loves The Mayor

If the BS story about the "innovative" use of those "new fangled" QR codes on the incumbent's yards signs wasn't enough, NBC33 has found another way to "help out" their friends in the Henry campaign. 

In a promo running on their air and contained in radio commercials promoting NBC33's oddball newscasts on various radio stations, the TV station mischaracterizes the Legacy Fund origin and purpose and prominently features a sound bite from the mayor, himself talking about the Fund. 

What's wrong with this? 

First, there are factual problems. In the voiceover part of the NBC33 promo, the Legacy Fund is referred to as "for years the city has been saving money away in the Legacy Fund". Not true, the Legacy Fund is the result of Indiana Michigan's purchase of the old City Light department which used to provide electric power to the citizens of Fort Wayne. It is not a result of the city saving money and socking it away over many years.

Second, the Legacy Fund's use and administration is a bona fide hot topic in this year's mayoral election and was a feature of Channel 15's Monday night mayoral debate. Andy Downs saw to that when he formulated and wrote all the questions for Monday's debate (WANE TV must not have been capable of doing that). The prominent use of Tom Henry's comments about the Legacy Fund in the NBC33 promo can be seen as an endorsement of his reelection bid by NBC33, as well as free campaign advertising for the democrat. In many quarters, the current mayor has been credited with initiating and conducting the final negotiations that created the Fund and has even been referred to as "the father of the Legacy Fund". The Harper campaign should seek equal access under the current Federal Election Commission regulations. Since the announcements in question are "free" and cost the Henry campaign nothing, then Harper should also get the free advertising on NBC33 and the radio stations running the NBC33 promos, as well.

In essence, NBC33, by it's questionable and superfluous QR code news story, and "promo" which for all intents and purposes is a Henry campaign ad, must give one pause when considering NBC33 as a credible news source. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Technology? Yes, in 1994

The Maven calls "bullshit" on this story.

Fact, the QR code was released to commercial use in 1994 by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of the Denso Corporation. It's NOT new technology.

Fact, other political campaigns have used QR codes on their direct mail advertising, including campaigns by candidates in Fort Wayne as far back as 2007. This is nothing new. 

Fact, the media has an investment in Tom Henry winning a third term and want to protect that investment in the status quo.

Fact, Henry's opponent has been critical of the current administration's efforts to redevelop downtown, reportedly at the expense of the safety of citizens in other neighborhoods in town. 

Fact, this story has nothing to do with "new" technology in a political campaign but has everything to do with distracting would-be voters away from the four people murdered in the last few days. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Back To The Future Week at WANE TV

Kudos to the marketing and promotional geniuses at WANE TV for their diabolical Back To The Future promotion. 
Those fun-loving news folks kicked off the celebration with presenting a news story that had not happened yet. Back To The Future indeed!

And now, to wrap up the week of fun, frivolity and laughs, those notorious leg-pullers at WANE TV have a special treat in store for viewers tuning into Monday's 7pm mayoral debate. WANE TV, according to the information they provide to electronic TV listing feeds will apparently run a replay of the Fort Wayne mayoral debate from 2007, 8 years ago, featuring Republican Matt Kelty and Democrat Tom Henry. Look, it's in the listings, so it must be true. Pure genius. 

The technology for gathering TV program listings in database form has been around for years, but the distribution of those listings via a digital data stream to multiple platforms (electronic program guides, smartphones and tablets) began after 2007, the year of the Kelty/Henry debate. One argument has been made that the company in charge of compiling the listings substituted the old program description (the 2007 debate) for the new, current one. While that may be a convenient excuse, one must ask if WANE was lax in not providing timely information to the listings aggregator who may have defaulted back to the old, 2007 description. One must also ask why WANE did not exercise ordinary care in checking their listings, especially after crotchety media critics flooded social media with multiple examples of the error. 

Since the folks at WANE TV seem to be keeping a low profile, we'll probably never know the real story. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

WANE TV Back To The Future News

Witness here: WANE now presents news that hasn't happened yet. Behold, it's Future News! 

Now when WANE TV says "we were the first to report...." it's not just a marketing slogan. 

Look at the news copy, then look at the Maven's computer time/date. Hey, WANE TV reports it, so, it must be true.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Old Media Takes The Day

In today's media, the old folks, the dinosaurs, the geezers, otherwise know as the print media are looked upon as having one foot in the grave. 

Well, hold up on that print-media obituary, it's premature.

As the Fort Wayne City Clerk's office implodes under allegations of 1950's-style political shenanigans, it was not the TV stations, nor the kiddie bloggers, nor the kids in the WOWO news room that checked the facts and wrote detailed and compelling stories to bring this political scandal to light. It was journalists at the city's two newspapers who got their hands dirty and pulled this scandal, kicking and screaming, into the harsh light of day.

Kudos to the News Sentinel's Kevin Leininger and the Journal Gazette's Dave Gong for good, old-fashioned reporting. Kudos also to the leadership of both papers for not choosing to protect an entrenched political leader and her powerful and well-connected allies any longer. The fact that this story even appeared in the JG is an indication that this is a serious situation.

The Maven also finds no surprise that the TV stations waited until after the weekend to devote airtime to the story. Even the annoying "15 Finds Out" guy on WANE missed this one. The only reason WOWO had the story over the weekend can be attributed to WOWO's lean to the political right, and seized an opportunity to portray a democrat in a bad light. 

It will be interesting to see where this scandal goes and how deep into local government it takes us. The Maven is no pundit, but does believe that Leininger and Gong, and their respective newspapers, will be the conduit for new information, with the TV stations picking up the crumbs along the way. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cloning, Fort Wayne Radio

Sunday, between 2:00pm and 2:15pm, the cute little voice on K105 mentioned that The Walking Dead was coming back on TV tonight, but also noted with sadness that most of her favorite characters were dead. Bummer.

Imagine the Maven's surprise when between 4:15pm and 4:30pm, the same cute little voice on K105 mentioned that The Walking Dead was coming back on TV tonight, but also noted with sadness that most of her favorite characters were dead. A perfect duplicate, word for word, giggle for giggle. 

The light's on, but no body is home. The wonders of digital voice tracking and a large computer. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Someone is Off Message

Ad genius David Ogilvy had a memorable quote about consistency of message. The Maven is too lazy to look up the exact quote, but trust me, ad campaigns will fail miserably if the message is not consistent.

The same can be said of political campaigns. 

The Henry for Mayor campaign has done a very good job getting their message out to the public. Those running the campaign are experienced professionals who've enjoyed success in other campaigns they've run. It's a well-oiled machine.

If you have a mailbox in Fort Wayne, you've seen this well-crafted direct mail piece:

So, imagine the Maven's surprise and confusion at seeing this headline in the News Sentinel today:

Here's the dilemma: The Henry campaign message is the City is safe, the City is working. 

The police chief seems to be saying, "well, yeah, it's usually safe, but we'll hopefully be ready when the City is overrun by heathens and homegrown urban terrorists when the growing wave gets here in the near future". 

Now, yes, the Maven understands that it's wouldn't be beneath the "right-leaning" News Sentinel to "diddle" with a headline to make life harder for a democrat, but if one reads the quotes in the story, the headline is fairly accurate and true. 

The Maven is sure this little "bobble" will be worked out and "clarified" in the next day or two...... 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Creativity - Punching Grandma in the Gut

The Maven spent some time following an interesting thread on an acquaintance's Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Seems this fellow has taken issue with a radio advertisement for Fred Toenges Shoe store. The ad is currently running on Majic 95.1 and may be on other stations as well.

Without going into too much detail, it seems the premise of the advertisement is an announcer "interviewing" the "store's oldest customer", an elderly woman. As the interviewer asks questions of the customer, it's apparent that the customer is having great difficulty hearing/understanding what is being asked. The customer becomes more frustrated and confused, as does the interviewer. (that's supposed to be funny, folks).

Now, the Maven is mindful that this scenario might be a real knee-slapper for persons under 30, but the general consensus of the comments on the friend's Facebook page reflect a very valid concern. The Fred Toenges advertisement is demeaning and advances a hurtful, harmful stereotype of elderly people and those who are hearing-impaired or who have other disabilities. Making fun of Grandma and her disability must be a real "hoot" to the hip and enlightened 20-somethings who seem to populate ad agencies, these days. It's too bad they couldn't work in a faulty crutch or wayward wheel chair into the mix for comedic relief. 

The Maven guesses that's what wins Addy awards, these days. 

Alas, this seems to be what advertising has become, taking the low road, swinging at low-hanging fruit, and using "humor" at the expense of other people's feelings and frailties. While the shoe store is no way blameless in this affair, the ad agency should bare the brunt of the responsibility for the hurt feelings and hateful thoughts. 

Shame on you!