Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back to School for Channel 4 Anchor-Reporters

Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker, Don Paul and Mylous Hairston apparently are going back to school.

The owner of the CBS affiliate started mandatory training for AFTRA Buffalo members at WIVB-TV and WNLO-TV last week that will teach them how to shoot and edit stories.

The training became mandatory after a previous company request for “volunteers” fell on deaf ears.

AFTRA represents the on-air reporting and anchor staff at the station. It is a national trend for on-air personnel to report and shoot stories, which reduces the need for photographers. It has been AFTRA’s position that reporting and shooting stories is under the jurisdiction of NABET, which represents photographers and other behind-the-scenes personnel.

Mylous Hairston, president of AFTRA Buffalo, said the union “finds it interesting the company first asked for volunteers (which AFTRA first proposed during bargainng sessions last year) but was rejected by the company.

“The company then assigned training times for each AFTRA Buffalo member at WIVB/WNLO. For its part, the company has maintained even during contract talks everyone would/will be trained. The company is still in negotiations with NABET, which has jurisdiction over shooting and editing.”

Of course, the upside of having anchors and reporters shooting and editing their own stories is reducing personnel costs.

The downside is that the staffers may be so overwhelmed with the technical aspects of the job that there will be less time to write and report the stories as well as they have been written and reported in the past.

In other words, the product may suffer.

* Recommended viewing : “Covert Affairs,” the new USA Network series about a pretty young CIA agent, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo), that has its second airing at 10 tonight on the basic cable channel. Last week’s premiere episode has played countless times over the last week.

The broadcast network worthy cast includes Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, a dry-witted colleague blinded in a previous mission who is Annie’s tour guide to the agency; Anne Dudek as the sister who wants to find Annie a new man; Kari Matchett as Joan Campbell, who is Anne’s boss and who is married to the director of the Clandestine Service Department of the CIA.

Best of all, Joan’s hubby and the Clandestine boss, Arthur Campbell, is played by scenery-chewing Peter Gallagher, who is pretty busy this summer. He also plays an irreverent priest on FX’s “Rescue Me.”

Though Perabo is so tiny that she hardly seems CIA material in the action series, “Covert Affairs” had enough action, suspense, humor and heart in the premiere to give it the potential to be one of the more pleasant hours of summer TV. Tonight’s second episode should uncover whether that potential will be tapped.

A couple of things to note: The pilot was directed by Tim Matheson, the actor who may be best known for playing “Otter” on Animal House. And Sendhil Ramamurthy, the former star of “Heroes,” joined the cast as a regular character after the pilot was filmed.



  1. Change "the product may suffer" to "the product WILL suffer" and I'm right there with you. As one of the last few dinosaurs who covers high school sports with a pen sted camera, I watch my colleagues juggle their notebooks and lenses with a mixture of awe and pity.

    Glad to see you're still talkin', by the by.

  2. A question: are local news operations in larger markets than Buffalo having reporters edit and film?

  3. To portsports: Thanks for the kind words. I am amazed at how well high school sports reporter Keith McShea of the Buffalo News juggles everything. He is amazing. To Regan: Yes, it is a national cost-saving trend.