Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Effort

OK .. thanks to DVR technology I finally got to see Akron, Ohio: The City Where Commercial Television News Went Black. While we all have differing opinions of the content and production of the special, I think the one thing most of us can agree upon is that we learned something.

My first thought is just to applaud Cheri Russo for taking on such a large task. Chasing the history of TV News in Akron through the challenges of fighting with the Cleveland stations and the FCC is not an easy task. Explaining that saga to non-broadcast folks is an even greater challenge.

Pros: I thought the historic video and information about the rise and fall of the station was good. I've never seen any special try so hard to explain the insanity that is ratings when it comes to Akron News. Even working at the "Old 23" I didn't know that the original license had the station on Channel 49. I also liked the depth that Tim Ryan added by talking about how he had an advantage at election time by being followed by three Youngstown stations while Tom Sawyer didn't have a single Akron TV station to look to when Ryan defeated him in the Spring of 2000.

Cons: The special repeated some information and put others out of order. It also spent too much time up top on the Barberton parade when the point of the small-town folks who depend on Akron news was already established. I would liked to have seen more interviews with local folks complaining about what it was like from 1996-2001 when there was no local evening news broadcast. Later the documentary up and throws out a mention of the new Akron news operation without explaining how it came about. While the special did mention the Akron 2025 plan that called for the return of evening news, the effect of the emergence of Pax23 News and later ACN wasn't explained real well.

Observation: It's a good effort to explain a tough topic. It really is. Sure there are things that I might have written different and I would have liked to have seen better production techniques (some bells-and-whistles if you will), but who cares. This is the way she saw it and it's her project at Ohio University.

As fate would have it, Cheri actually called me earlier today to see what I thought. I told her just what I wrote above. She said she'd received quite a bit of criticism, but I told her that's actually a good thing because it shows how closely the audience watched what she put on the air. Most viewers weren't daydreaming, they were paying attention.

With that in mind, it's obvious that Akron News is a passionate topic for a lot of people. So later this week, I'm going to launch a website devoted to "the day news died" with info and links regarding all the folks who used to be part of the Akron TV news game. Give me time to finalize what I've started creating and get some real content from some of the former 23 folks, and we'll see how it goes.

Cheri -- nice effort. For your first documentary and with very, very limited resources, you should be proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The station was on channel 49 and transmitted from the tower atop First National/FirstMerit (whatever) in downtown Akron. The Berk's donated the old transmitter to PBS 45/49... after they switched to channel 23 with their tower on Romig Rd.