Journalistic skill set in question

Posted 7/14/19

At age 12, I built my first TV Station. The camera was a cardboard box and a couple of Campbell soup cans were the lens. I went on to be a real radio news reporter, produced cable news programs and with others, even built Jasper’s first broadcast TV station, Channel 55. One might call me a news buff, and they would be right. I have six decades dabbling in News, with a parallel career in Law Enforcement.

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Journalistic skill set in question

Posted

At age 12, I built my first TV Station. The camera was a cardboard box and a couple of Campbell soup cans were the lens. I went on to be a real radio news reporter, produced cable news programs and with others, even built Jasper’s first broadcast TV station, Channel 55. One might call me a news buff, and they would be right. I have six decades dabbling in News, with a parallel career in Law Enforcement.

Therefore, I have been reading the Daily Mountain Eagle for a long time, with varying amounts of respect, or no respect, as Publishers and reporters came and went. In my opinion there has been no time the Eagle has flown as high as it is flying now! That is due to the leadership and skill James Phillips brought back home.

At TV 55 we used to claim: “we are news, and the Eagle is history!” Nobody can make that claim today. While other small … and some large ... newspapers are folding and closing, James has taken social media and created a local news source that nobody can beat. If something big is happening you can get the basics on their Facebook page pretty quickly, and sometimes on their website. Then when the print edition comes out you can usually get more detail.

He has pulled together a group of reporters that think local. The days of a thin newspaper with a front page full of articles “pulled off the wire” are gone. We now get a newspaper with multiple pages of strictly local information in every section… even sports! Boy, I would like to see the net earnings graph since he took over.

But, sometimes an asset can become a liability, kind of like a carton of milk can go sour if not handled properly. Such is the case with Ed Howell. His obvious lack of neutrality in his reporting during the last Sheriff’s race revealed that he does not measure up to professional journalistic standards of unbiased reporting. But his comments about the news conference as he “cleaned out his notebook” recently simply cannot remain unchallenged.

There is nothing innocent about asking the Police Chief how the family was doing when Mr. Howell had just stated: “interviewing the witnesses was heartbreaking as they broke down crying. We were all affected.”

And I summit that some reporters making faces like, “What’s with that?” may have been more about the question that he asked, than Poe’s reply. But then I can’t speak to what members of the Birmingham media are thinking any more than Mr. Howell can. After all, the question is a lot like asking someone in Hell if it is hot down there!

Because of my background, pointed out above, I have attended many news conferences. After watching this one three times I see very little about which to complain. And I can assure you that no one reading this has ever seen as much effort go into providing us with complete and truthful reporting.

I just think Mr. Howell’s journalistic skill set is not compatible with this community. I don’t do Facebook, but some who do claim he seems to be a hard core Progressive. Maybe he can get a better paying job as Bernie Sanders’ local campaign manager.

Sincerely,

Lanny Capps,

Jasper