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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007


So who had the best coverage of the big fire in Indian Hill last night? And was it worth all the air time?

Between preparing for a Boy Scout trip next week -- my son's troop is biking the C&O canal path 184 miles from Cumberland, MD, to Washington DC -- and watching Zo Wesson on "America's Next Producer" (boy, some people hate him, calling him a "bully"), and listening to the Reds game in the car, I didn't know anything about the big fire until the 11 p.m. news. And then I only saw Channel 9's coverage at 11 p.m.

What did the other stations do? Were there updates all night? Did Ch 5 have helicopter coverage?

Yes, it was a big fire, and firefighters were hurt, but I was surprised that Channel 9 devoted 9 minutes to it... How many more minutes would they have aired if someone died in the fire? Would a fire in Northside with 11 injured firefighters get 9 minutes?

You tell me.


at 7/26/2007 9:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ch. 9 kept breaking into programming all evening with updates. I suppose the rationale was the number of injured firefighters. At the time, I questioned if that hypothetical house in Northside would have garnered the same coverage - probably not. I switched to 12 and 5 several times and didn't see any breaks in 12's programming. Of course, 5 did, with the helicopter, and their injured firefighter count was always at least one higher than the other two. I never watch FOX programming crap so, never even checked what 19 was doing.

at 7/26/2007 10:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Channel 5 had an annoying crawl on the bottom of the screen that never stopped. It was endless throughout the "Most Outrageous TV Moments" program on NBC. They also had live cut ins with the chopper. As soon as they interrupted the show, I was able to switch to NBC out of Dayton, seeing as I have an HDTV with an antenna. Yes firefighters were hurt, but I need to hear about it once and then I'll wait until the 10pm or 11pm news when you have more info. Not the anchor's telling us as soon as we get more info, we'll pass it on. Only come on the air, when you HAVE THE INFO. I am sorry the firefighters were injured and pray for their recovery, but showing it live on TV was not what I was tuning in to watch. Put that coverage on the secondary digital channels and give people the option of watching the local or the network programming. It can not be that hard. Isn't that why we are adding the secondary channels? You have that luxury, now use it wisely nimrods!

at 7/26/2007 10:18 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

are there any $5 million homes in northside? any kroger estates?

at 7/26/2007 10:28 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a firefighter for a local department, the best coverage I had of the fire was on my 800mhz. scanner. That aside - I was a bit disheartened by channel 5's coverage - they came across (at least to me) as more concerned that this was an Indian Hill fire ($$$) and how Mr. Jaeger made his money than on the injured firefighters. Channel 12 did a much better job balancing all three. The only reason I had 5 on at all was for the helicopter shots. It'll be interesting to see if any of the local media checks into what was probably the biggest issue fighting the fire - the extremely low water pressure and having to use water tankers from Warren county.

at 7/26/2007 10:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the coverage was what it was. i liked the chopper, thought it was a big plus.

but i think we're missing the big story--kiese gets paid to evaluate the content and presentation of local tv stations...but on a day when everyone knew this was a major story, he only watched ONE CHANNEL! ok, so you're packing for a trip or whatever. you don't own a remote control or a dvr?

oh well more of the same bias and bad journalism we've come to know and love.

but that's ok, kiese, i'm sure your bosses are pleased as punch that you only managed to do a quarter of your work on a tv long as you can keep posting these insightful stories about minor format shifts at crappy radio stations. (so i'll only hear the same country song every hour instead of every half-hour?)

by the way, what was the tipster's name who gave you that? oh yeah, it was just another news release.

at 7/26/2007 11:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if there are $5 million homes anywhere, it is not a newsworthy enough story for constant cut-ins. I can buy, one cut it, then say they will have complete details on their 11pm news, then back to network programming. That is what the majority of the people tuned in to watch, unless some life-changing/ world-changing events were taking place. With apologies to those affected, the fire did not meet that criteria.

at 7/26/2007 11:23 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am saddened by the mean spiritedness of some people when "their" shows are interrupted by something as 'trivial' three alarm fire with injuries.And it doesnt matter where the fire is, there are lives involved.
from the neighbhorhood

at 7/26/2007 11:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I said, constant cut-in's should be for life-changing AND world-changing. I also said, WITH APOLOGIES to those affected. That story is tragic FOR THOSE AFFECTED.

There are stories out there everyday that affect people in a life changing way. But it is not world-changing like 9-11 or something of that magnitude. I like the suggestion of ANON 10:16 about using the secondary digital channels for the constant update. It at least gives people the choice.

I don't watch TV (when I do invest my time) to be bummed out watching developing news stories that may have some tragedy for someone. Maybe you are, I am not. That is not mean-spirited.

And yet one more time, with apologies to those affected. Thoughts and prayers to all affected!

at 7/26/2007 12:02 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 10:57, the "big story" is not Kies watching on only one channel. He didn't know there was a story until he watched the 11pm news. If he was not home and there was no cut in during the Reds game to inform him that there was this media-type story, how can you blame him for not seeing the earlier coverage? Maybe you have some bias towards him because you got some unfavorable or not favorable-enough coverage from him and his paper. You are just as guilty as what you accuse Kies of.

That as the bigger story, not even close.

at 7/26/2007 12:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe that poster above has a point. would it be so difficult to have the Enquirer buy you a Tivo system that would enable you to actually watch the content you have to write about? I'm assuming that you won't take all of the biased people on this blog as gospel. Come to think about it, most of your Sunday mentions come straight out of the blog anyway.
How can I get your job? It sounds like an easy one.

at 7/26/2007 12:47 PM Blogger Adam said...

I was extremely annoyed that I could not watch American Inventor. What was the big threat to all of us that warranted covering up programs?

at 7/26/2007 12:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone know if ch 5 will be repeating Last Comic Standing? their live interruption covered up a good portion of it.

at 7/26/2007 1:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who cares about your stupid shows. If you don't want to watch breaking news that involves lives at stake then go outside and get some exercise. I am sure the family members of all those fire fighters were happy that they kept breaking in.
They are just tv shows. There are other things more important in life.

at 7/26/2007 1:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, they are just tv shows. It's not the end of the world if you can't watch it. People's lives were on the line and I am sure the family members were happy that the news kept breaking in and giving any kind of information.

at 7/26/2007 1:17 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 12:02, thanks for making my point for me. when kiese is watching the news at 11 and sees there's a big story...why was it again that he only watched one channel?

i'm assuming his tv actually picks up more than one channel.

you know all the tv stations invest in subscriptions to the enquirer. maybe the enquirer should invest in some kind of new-fangled technology to let kiese switch channels from across the room...or even (gasp) record another station!

as for unfavorable, i've never been one of kiese's targets. just got sick of seeing what passes for professionalism on this site. you know, attacking one station for going over-the-top with breaking news..but ignoring the way channel 12 now calls every story breaking even when it's more than a day old... or the way anyone and i mean anyone can log on here.. make up something.. and post it with no fact-checking or balance.

again this is just another example of bad journalism.

at 7/26/2007 1:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the trailers on the sceenn did a good enough job.

at 7/26/2007 2:37 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 1:17,

Since when is a blog considered journalism? Kies gives us, the readers of the blog, the forumn to discuss certain topics. He does not post stories on here, rather he posts a comment and solicits our opinions. It is we, the readers of the blog, who make the judgments about Channel 5 stinking up the airwaves for the better part of my entire life. (now going on 33 years, jeesh)

It is me, a reader of the blog, who thinks EVERY TV station and not just here in Cincinnati, that overuses the breaking news hype.

In just for instance factor, if you had just come home and turned on the news and saw a story about a fire, you'd think oh, another fire story. It may take you a minute or two into the story to grasp that this particular fire, was bigger than normal. Maybe you are not in a position to immediately run to the TIVO and begin recording the news of other stations. It truly is not that big of a deal folks. He just brought it up as a topic of discussion, not a way to fix what ails the sorry state of Cincinnati TV news. He just wondered who had the best coverage, IN OUR OPINION, not as a fact for a story.

And as for the folks who are saddened by those of us who watch TV for entertainment, get over it. Someone else said bad things happen everyday, which they do. It does not warrant constant live coverage. When we have a local CNN (Cincinnati News Network) then we can discuss constant coverage. Until then, the rest is overkill. They are relying on the sympathy factor to justify their reasoning, when the ONLY reason is ratings. They are using you folks who are saddened. They want to one-up the other channels and be the best in a story that has limited meaning to the masses, to the point of becoming a tune out factor.

I for one, tuned out.

John, thanks for this discussion forums. Sorry there are some jaggoffs who look to a blog as the gospel of truth.

at 7/26/2007 3:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The never ending scroll on the bottom of 5 pointless. 3 firefighters. cunningham avenue. NO CITY...NO FIRE Department NAME. Call me crazy...but I don't think everyone knows where cunningham is located. As far as I could tell they NEVER updated the scroll ONCE. I drove me batty!

at 7/26/2007 3:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Kiese was listening to the Reds game, and since the Reds game is on WLW The Big One, what does that make WLW?? Aren't they supposed to be a *major* player in the city when it comes to news? If the fire was such a big story, why did WLW not mention it between innings or cut into the Reds game? Was WLW the smart one and saw it was a minor event or are they beholden to the Reds and can't cut into the game to break a local story?

Just Wondering

at 7/26/2007 5:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stations - please stop cutting into my shows! Save it for the news or put it on your screen ticker.

at 7/26/2007 6:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

so just so i understand the rules-- kiese is not a journalist. this site, on the enquirer news page isn't actually journalism, anyone who writes an opinion piece isn't bound by any ethical rules to get the story right and if anyone posts a comment on a blog, the person running the blog has no responsiblity for it.

so, why was this very same blog shut down a few months ago because everyone was posting nasty and untrue stuff anonymously?

and by the way, why can i write an anonymous comment here...but if i write a letter to the editor of the enquirer...on a big page with the word "OPINION" all over it... they won't print it unless it includes my name and address?

wait i already know the answer--because they recognize that when you call yourself a journalist in ANY FORUM and then print an article in ANY FORUM (even an opinion piece) you are subject to certain slander and libel.

kiese and the enquirer are simply taking advantage of a legal loophole where technology is running ahead of lawmakers.

and as for john not writing stories, he most certainly does post actual news stories on this site. there's one right above this story..and right below it..and right below that.

at 7/26/2007 7:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if 5 will be repeating the programs they covered up? I am trying to get my hands on the first half hour of Last Comic Standing.

at 7/26/2007 8:57 PM Blogger skippercollector said...

My viewpoint and experience never seem to match up with the rest of you.

I first turned on the TV about 8:30 p.m. WCPO had the live coverage, but then it went on and on and on. I went channel surfing and found that the other local stations just had the crawl on the bottom. Throughout the evening, I would periodically use my remote, and every time I did, WCPO had a live report. I finally put in a DVD and watched that.

I've complained about WCPO and its pre-emptions before. It shows more useless syndicated programming instead of its network programming than do all the other local affiliates combined, and it's done so for years. I suppose it must be some kind of licensing agreement. I've also noticed that if there is bad weather, or a fire such as the one last night, it will also discontinue the network programming much longer than do the other stations.

My big questions last night, and they were ones that I didn't get an answer for until much later, was who owned the house, and did its residents get out? The various news crews talked at length about the firefighters, and who had built the house in the 1920s, but said nothing about its current owners! I assume that perhaps that information wasn't disclosed to the media right away, or perhaps the reporters weren't sure immediately if everyone was safe, and decided to hold off for a while.

Also, on the 11 p.m. news--I think it was Channel 5--after the long report about the Jaeger fire, there was a brief mention about another older home in Mt. Auburn that had caught fire earlier that day. No, it wasn't Northside, but I understood what John was talking about in his blog.

And as for those of you who complain about the local print, radio and television media, you might want to do as I did--start your own blog so that you gripe as much as you want!

at 7/26/2007 9:37 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

19 had the best coverage. Told you it was happening in quick bites during there network programming then covered it in there news. Breaking News is broken any more.

at 7/26/2007 10:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want to know the real reason stations do this? Look at the BIG promotional spots they have airing right now! It's all part of a grist mill of trying to win you over.

at 7/26/2007 11:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What rules do you need to understand. This is a blog, not the op-ed page. What about the ACTUAL stories John has posted, have no truth to it?

Just because his job is to report on broadcasting as a whole (not just television) does not mean he can't branch out and offer alternative types of way to have information distributed. In fact, this blog is just a minute percentage of nearly every form of media that offers this same type forum.

What did John post in this particular thread, that has your panties all bunged? That he watched just one channel's newscast after the story broke? His original comment was similar to what a lot of people on this thread have said, why donate so much time to a story? He was surprised Channel 9 donated that much time in the newscast. He was not available to view the story as it happened. The beauty of this type forum allows he and others interested in this topic, to have a discussion. His question asked what other stations did during the cut-ins and how often they occured. What is wrong with that?

This is more entertaining to me, than reading John or anyones recap that says Channel 5 had a crappy crawl and a helicopter, channel 9 broke in 7 times and channel 12 broke in 9 times. I don't care. It was ALL overkill. The discussion is more informative than a recap story and offers insight as to what people think of every stations crappy coverage. How many times do you watch a story and ask aloud, "why cover it that way" (and then get yelled at by your wife saying they can't hear you? On this forum, you can understand what I think and even respond. It is beautiful!

And for the bleeding heart that said the families were home watching the coverage and that is why it was necessary...doubtful. My guess is the families went to the hospital or the scene of the incident and got first hand info from those in charge, not some talking TV head regurgitating info secondhand from a spokesperson.

Just because this blog is on an Enquirer site, does not mean it is held to the same standards of the op-ed page. They are separate entities with a separate set of rules. We come to these blog pages and take what we read, with a grain of salt, not hold it to the God's honest truth. The op-ed, printed page, is held to a higher standard by asking for name and address. Blogs are not held to that standard. If you haven't figured that out, we are going to continue to split hairs. Do not take what you read as the end-all fact. When people like you and I, post anonymously, don't take what you read as fact.

When John posts an actual story, more time than not, it is fact based and not opinion oriented. In the occurance's when John does not get a story entirely right, he usually posts an addendum, correcting the wrong. In this particular thread, it was strictly John asking for opinions. That is the difference in printed newspapers and the instantaneous medium of blogs.

I'll end this novel now because I have carpal tunnel. Once again John and Cincinnati Enquirer, thank you for this forum, to express opinions. For the sake of our blogger who is so bunged up, my opinions do not represent John Kieswetter's, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gannet News Service, Blogger or any other yahoo that posts here. They are entirely my anonymous thoughts. Night all!

at 7/27/2007 12:26 AM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

Thankfully I was NOT watching ANY local station when the fire broke.

i would also have tuned it out. LISTENING to all the coverage it got and the bragging from CHANNEL 5 as I watch Leno, is disgusting.

I agree that the news is OVERHYPED and this could EASILY have waited UNTIL the 11PM news.

There is a fricking 90 minutes I do NOT WATCH from 5 until 6.30. THAT NEEDS to go as well ...I am tired of local stations AMBUSHING US during tv shows or sporting events when WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO WATCH the UBIQUITOUS BREAKING NEWS ADNASEUM.

I for one, turn it off.

I am sick of the local news and national news. Until EVERYBODY TUNES OUT and complains, the stations will NeVER CHANGE.

Just like their CONSTANT CHICKEN LITTLE THE SKY IS FALLING with all the weather hyper and interruptions.

John, I am GRATEFUL for your blog and the chance to give my voice.

I am also sorry for the jerks who come on here to make snarky comments on your site.


at 7/27/2007 7:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fire was newsworthy. It did not matter what neighborhood it was in. 11 Firefighters hurt, some were unaccounted for, the real question should be where was WKRC!!!

at 7/27/2007 8:01 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a blog - i.e. "weblog", or web diary, for those who are not technically inclined.

If you want the hard news, go to the Enquirer's main site. If you want to get a different opinion from those who write the news articles, go to the blogs. The Enquirer is under no obligation to make sure a web diary is the bastion of "serious" journalism and AP style. This is not a hard concept to understand.

I think John does a good job of throwing tidbits out there, and I certainly don't expect to come here for "hard news". I don't expect that out of any of the blogs on this site.

at 7/27/2007 9:29 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go ahead and take some more pot shots ANON 6:19, but I think it will be in vein. It looks like you have been shot down on more than one occasion and by more than one person. Anything more looks like personal attacks against John, which is pretty lame.

at 7/27/2007 9:46 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

my big question is why didnt the stations cover skip prosser dying. I flipped thru every station at 5 and 530 and didnt even hear a mention. 5 had ken broo talk about odell thurman at 508 in sports, but never once menionted skip prosser.
Skip was a great man who was very caring and loved what he did. He still had a house in hydepark.

at 7/27/2007 10:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on the ratings, it looks like 12's stragetgy of running crawls and not interrupting programming worked. The prime time lineup outscored 5 & 9's fire coverage - and 12's 11pm news was number one, hands down.

I tend to agree with the other bloggers here - get the news on, but don't be overbearing. People look for news at 11pm, not at 8:30pm.

As for John's exclusively watching 9 News... that really is pathetic for a paid media watchdog. Yes, this is a blog for discussion, but don't ask your contributors to do your job.

If you wanted to analyze the coverage - get the tapes, sit down and watch them, then give your review. THEN ask if people agree with you. All you're doing is hiding behind other people's comments when you are paid to give YOUR analysis.

at 7/27/2007 10:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:46 - that has to be a fake post. Are you kidding? All the stations covered Skip. All the sports anchors were on with it, Brad, Denny, Broo and the bunch.

at 7/27/2007 11:03 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogs are more instantaneous than John being able to get the tapes, spend time watching the tapes, gather his thoughts and then do a "recap" story. For this particular thread, I see no problem with the way it was handled. That is why blogs are seemingly more and more preferable than the dinosaur print newspaper...instant reaction.

at 7/27/2007 11:48 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there anything more annoying than Eric Flack saying on every hit "Indian Hills"? With Curtis standing right next to him, you would think the seasoned cincinnati vet would nicley say "Hey, Eric, it's not plural".

Also, a little insider info.. 9 and 12 both have employees who moonlight for the Madeira-Indian Hill Fire Department. I'm sure the folks at WCPO understood the gravity of this situation and their staff actually FIGHTING the fire only adds to the desire to report on the "scripps family".

Over on WKRC @ 10 actually SHOWED two shots of their staffer in his bunker gear and carrying a pole.

What would you do if there was a FARILY good chance (based on 7-12 firefighter hurt) someone you worked with was hurt/unaccounted for!

at 7/27/2007 12:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why Americans are so obese? Cause they're sitting on their bums watching stupid shows like, "America's Got Talent". Get off your butt and exercise, see some culture around the city, or read a BOOK. So what if the news cut in for 10 minutes??? It's more interesting than whats on normally anyway... Best wishes to the firefighters who risked their lives this week.

at 7/28/2007 1:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local News ratings are down as a whole across the board. There are many reasons for this, but a direct result is due to stations breaking into programming and hyping what news directors call breaking news. They have cried wolf so many times that when there is true breaking news the viewers tend to tune it out. One day the smartest station will get back to the basics and cover news you can use and pull ahead of the rest in ratings.

at 7/28/2007 4:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyn at 1059. I said the stations didnt cover skip on there 5 or 530 newscasts.
Channel 5 is falling so far.

at 7/28/2007 4:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a fire in my bedroom last case anyone is interested.

at 8/01/2007 8:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:09: That is the best post I've read on this blog - ever.

at 8/02/2007 8:48 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If John were a journalist he would of done more digging on the departure of David Rose

at 8/03/2007 3:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anyone with a brain who still watches local news, or listens to local radio.

Come on, people! Revolt! Demand something better!

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