T Dog’s Grab Bag: Mag Mile media coverage under scrutiny

mag-mileAlso: CBS 2 dumps Susan Carlson; Right This Minute finally clears Chicago; Idol’s finale ratings tank as expected; special on Chicago violence doesn’t resonate in ratings

While the TV and media world were focusing on the new lineups unveiled by the networks during the upfronts last week in New York, there were other headlines made as well:

The local media was once again the front and center of a controversy regarding Mag Mile mob attacks in the city’s River North neighborhood, north of downtown. Last week, a 68 year-old Flossmoor woman fabricated a story that she was robbed on North Michigan Avenue by several African-American men in broad daylight. Later, the story began to unravel as investigators couldn’t find any witnesses or any surveillance video of the attack. In Saturday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune, a few criticized the media attention the mob attacks have attracted, with the stories often exaggerated. A wine steward at a Michigan Avenue bar noted the stories online are often skewed (thanks to sites such as the Drudge Report) and a flower shop employee pointed out some of her out-of-town customers were asking about the alleged attack. Even mayor Rahm Emanuel had to remind the press to be judicious when using the term “flash mobs” when describing the attacks.

Interesting to note some in the local news media was quite slow to pick up on the inaccuracies of the story when it finally unraveled late Wednesday night.

While the Mag Mile coverage is warranted, the overboard nature of it shows you how tabloidish the Chicago news media and other outlets can be at times. Even worse is the stereotyping of African-Americans, which is quite frequent in news coverage (local and national) and comes as no surprise, given the lack of diversity in journalism and TV in general. Keep in mind many of us still remember when one local Chicago station aired a maliciously edited video of a 4-year-old African-American kid, making it look like he wanted to grow up to be a criminal.

After this hoax, you’d think news directors and press editors would now know better. I wouldn’t hold out any hope on that.

And here’s another item on Chicago’s “image problem”… as you well know, Chicago has generated “national attention” (ugh, so sick of these stupid journalistic cliches) for gun violence, but that “attention” didn’t translate to ratings for a 48 Hours episode dedicated to the subject. Airing on one of the least-viewed nights of the week, the CBS News special on Saturday night drew just 3.92 million viewers and a 0.8 rating/3 share among adults 18-49. On the bright side, ratings did increase slightly in the second half-hour. These type of hard news specials typically doesn’t resonate in the ratings – especially among younger viewers, no matter what night of the week it airs and regardless of how much “national attention” it receives. But it would’ve been nice if CBS aired this on a night more viewers were home.

Eleven-year veteran Susan Carlson is out as CBS 2 morning news co-anchor. Carlson was given her walking papers on Friday, and her bio was scrubbed from the CBS Chicago website. As of this writing, no replacement has been announced. A problem spot for decades, ratings for the station’s dawn patrol news program ranked at the bottom, even behind WFLD’s morning show.

After a little over a year on the air, MGM’s Right This Minute is finally clearing larger markets, including Chicago. Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU began airing two back-to-back  episodes of the show recently, airing the videoclip show Sunday mornings at 1 a.m. (MGM plans to launch a weekend version on September 22.)  Weigel also has rights to air the series this fall in a weekday time slot yet to be determined. MGM has also cleared the series on WNBC in New York and KABC in Los Angeles.

As expected, American Idol scored the lowest rating ever for a season finale, with a 3.6 live rating in the 18-49 demo last Thursday night, down nearly 40 percent from last year. Fox did draw 13 million viewers and won the night.

Other finales gave Idol some competition, with The Big Bang Theory topping Idol with a 4.4. Other finale in close range with Idol were Scandal (3.2), Grey’s Anatomy (3.0), and The Office (series finale, 3.0)

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