The region under new media/sports magnate Sam Zell empire is never dull. I won’t spend time talking about Zambrano’s no-hitter, the Trib, or the inevitability of Bartman’s curse this October. But I would like to share some thoughts about some recent Heal the Bay doings at our local Zell outlets – the Los Angeles Times and KTLA.
A couple of days ago, Steve Lopez, the biggest reason for not canceling my home delivery of the Times, wrote a wonderful article about Heal the Bay’s founder, Dorothy Green. He portrayed Dorothy as the amazing, selfless, passionate fighter that she has been for decades. Dorothy has been fighting melanoma heroically and Steve eloquently illustrated that that cancer was not an excuse Dorothy was willing to use in her relentless fight for clean water and a sustainable California water supply policy.
The piece by Steve is why newspapers are so important. Not only do they provide investigative journalism that sheds light on corruption and the world’s tragedies and injustices, but they can provide an intimate view into the extraordinary lives that make cities like Los Angeles such an amazing place.
On the other hand, we had a media experience Thursday that was a bit disheartening.
Pitching our annual Coastal CleanUp Day to the media can be a pretty tall order. Promoting it on the 18th anniversary of Heal the Bay’s leadership of the Los Angeles County cleanup is even tougher. How do you spin the same story differently to get the media to cover good news? On Saturday, more than 10,000 people will come out to over 70 locations to clean up this town and someone will pick up the millionth pound of trash in the county since the event started 18 years ago.
Every year we try to get media interested in the story. Most local TV stations, especially KCAL9 and CBS 2, have covered the event and spoken with the many everyday volunteers who make this day so special. On Thursday, we had one of those morning segments with KTLA’s Wacky Gayle Anderson teed up. After several calls and e-mails, Gayle indicated that she’d join our dive teams at the Santa Monica Pier for a segment to run on KTLA’s top-rated morning news program. We were stoked because the coverage surely would have resulted in greater participation in the big event on Saturday.
Unfortunately, she and her producers opted out at the last minute for another story. We know that breaking news bump segments all the time. Was it the collapse of WaMu, AIG or Lehman Brothers? Was it the congressional debacle on offshore oil drilling? Was it the drama on the standoff between the Governor and the Legislature on the budget from hell? Nope, to all three.
We were dumped because Gayle Anderson found a story that exemplifies the new look at the venerable KTLA station that brought us Hal Fishman and Stan Chambers. She did a piece on two skateboarding bulldogs gearing up for their march in the Rose Parade three and a half months from now.
Thank you Mr. Zell. I guess we should’ve known one of the cardinal rules of show business: you can’t compete against cute kids or animals.