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Smerconish Blames “Pro-Wrestling” Approach to News for D.C Divisions

Smerconish said the rise of hosts like Rush Limbaugh and others of his same ilk changed the business model, shifting focus away from local hosts to nationally syndicated ones.

Jacob Conley

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Photo by IVN News CC BY 2.0

Media personality Michael Smerconish took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to share his thoughts about what and who was driving the deep partisanship in Washington D.C.:  The professional wrestling approach to news, fathered by Rush Limbaugh and followed by many others.

Smerconish teased his revelation on Twitter with a link to his website that contained an extended nine minute clip from Smerconish’s recent documentary, The Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking. In a post to his website, which has since been deleted, Smerconish urges readers to purchase the entire full length documentary, but “this nine minute clip is the most important to show how the media is driving the partisanship in Washington”. The clip can still be found on Facebook.

“When I first started out in radio 30 years ago, (hosts’) personality mattered, not ideology,” Smerconish said in the clip. “They weren’t on air because of a political perspective but because they could tell stories.”

Smerconish said the rise of hosts like Limbaugh and others of his same ilk changed the business model, shifting focus away from local hosts to nationally syndicated ones.

“When I was getting started, AM radio was in trouble, FM was taking over,” Smerconish said. “AM radio needed a savior and they found it in Rush Limbaugh… Conservatives rightfully felt shutout of the mainstream media and he is a gifted showman who filled that void and created this clubhouse for conservatives.”

While Smerconish believes that Limbaugh provided a needed voice for conservatives, he and similar radio and TV hosts that followed changed the political climate in Washington.

“When Fox News came along in 1996 and later MSNBC, they took a page from that playbook,” he said. “Now the business model was toned down to entertainment masked as news. It’s like professional wrestling, good for ratings, good for revenue bad for the country. You have good guy vs bad guys, constant conflict and a predetermined outcome.”

Smerconish concludes that the pro wrestling approach to news is the major driving force between the political divisions within the United States.

“The media has moved to extremes,” he said. “The rise of polarization in Washington directly correlates with the changes in broadcasting I am describing. Pre-Limbaugh, 60 percent of the House and Senate were comprised of moderates. By 2010, every Senate Republican was more conservative than every Senate Democrat and every Senate Democrat was more liberal than every Senate Republican. In the 1970’s, members of Congress would vote with his or her party about 60 percent of the time. Now the typical member of Congress votes with their party more than 90 percent of the time.”

The clip ends with Smerconish claiming that while there were many factors that caused this change, media was the driving force behind it.

“Look, I’m not trying to blame this all on the media,” he said. “Social media is an issue. The beer muscles that come from anonymity online has fueled incivility and polarization, but mostly this is what happens when Washington takes its ques from those with microphones and not the vast majority of the people. When politicians follow the modern era pro-wrestling approach to news, the nation suffers. For that to change, people need to change the channel.”

News Print & Digital

Futuri Creates Program that Turns User Content into Video

The platform is reportedly gaining popularity among television broadcasters following the release of a new version tailored to their needs.

Eduardo Razo

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Audience engagement company Futuri has created a new program called POST. The platform allows its users to upload audio, add texts and images and turn the content into video. 

The platform is reportedly gaining popularity among television broadcasters following the release of a new version tailored to their needs. According to Inside Radio, more television companies look to capitalize on the growing audio medium to reach their audiences. 

“Today’s audiences don’t think of media brands only in terms of ‘TV’ or ‘radio’. Quality content, be it video or audio, is what gets consumers engaged,” said Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig.

POST comes equipped with scheduling tools, video tools, and search engine optimization. In addition to ingesting and automatically editing a TV newscast’s audio feed, Futuri says the TV version of POST will also swap out the television commercials with programmatic ad markers.

“The way we’ve customized the POST podcasting systems for the unique needs of television broadcasters will help them quickly capture the audience and revenue growth opportunities that the explosive growth of audio has created,” added Anstandig. 

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News Print & Digital

Washington Post Tells Staff to “Comply Now” with Work Policy

The Post has put an ultimatum to its staffers who are not showing up to the offices for the three days they require or face the consequences.

Eduardo Razo

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The Washington Post has put an ultimatum to its staffers who are not showing up to the offices for the three days they require; they can either come back or face “disciplinary action.”

In an email sent throughout the company, Post chief human resources officer Wayne Connell called on staff to “comply now” with the newspaper’s work policy. 

After re-opening its offices on March 15, the publication demands that its staff be in the office “at least three days per week.” 

“If you haven’t complied with our 3/2 policy since our March return, or you haven’t complied consistently, we’d like to underscore the need to comply now,” the statement read, per Mediaite

“Beginning this Monday, June 27, please ensure that you are in the office at least three days per week, assuming you are not on approved days off such as vacation time, sick time, etc. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action.”

Connell adds that the Post is being fair with its demands to have their staff come in three times a week, striking the right balance by allowing employees to work from home and having the office experience that a Zoom meeting can’t replicate.

“We believe this companywide policy strikes the right balance, allowing both in-office collaboration and greater levels of flexibility than before the pandemic, and it’s only fair that we enforce this policy consistently,” the statement concluded. 

“We continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the 3/2 model and reserve the right to make changes in the future. In the meantime, please do your part in helping us meet these expectations.”

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News Print & Digital

The Obamas Agree to Content Deal with Audible

The exclusive, worldwide, multi-project, multi-year first-look production deal will see the collaboration supporting Higher Ground’s commitment to audio.

Eduardo Razo

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Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama left Spotify in April. It didn’t take them long to find a new home for their content as the Obamas’ media company, Higher Ground, and Audible have reached a multi-year deal.

press release announced the exclusive, worldwide, multi-project, multi-year first-look production deal will see the collaboration supporting Higher Ground’s commitment to audio.

“At Higher Ground, we have always sought to lift up voices that deserve to be heard — and Audible is invested in realizing that vision alongside us. I’m looking forward to partnering with them to tell stories that not only entertain but also inspire,” President Obama said. 

“We are so proud of the stories we have been able to tell at Higher Ground, and there’s no one we’d rather write our next chapter with than Audible. Together, we will keep striving to tell compelling, provocative, and soulful stories—while doing everything we can to make sure they reach the folks who need to hear them,” Michelle Obama said.

The slate of Audible programs will reflect the companies’ shared task to convey meaningful and entertaining stories that promote diverse voices and backgrounds.

“We have long recognized President and Mrs. Obama’s historic capacity to captivate,” Don Katz, Audible’s Founder and Executive Chairman, stated. 

“We are thrilled to welcome two of the most profound voices of moral and intellectual leadership of our times into the Audible fold, and to be able to elevate President and Mrs. Obama’s singular ability to provide hope and uplifting guidance—needed now more than ever—through their voices.”

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