With Charlotte-based Continental Tire as the sponsor, the bowl will pit the Big East against an ACC team on December 28. The story about how this bowl came to be in the first place is pretty interesting.
Raycom Sports honcho Ken Haines was gung-ho on the idea, and after one bowl game decided to leave home after the 2001 season he talked with the city and got a proposal ready for the NCAA scheduled for September 11 last fall. Needless to say, that was cancelled, but he finally got to give his pitch for a Charlotte bowl this May. Teams to be announced later, of course, but the bowl is on.
How did cable, the 24-hour news beast, handle the story? It was the best of times and the worst of times, as it usually is for the folks at CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
The night that turned into the wee hours when the suspects were captured was compelling watching, as you could get that whiff of something about to happen. Cops' news conferences were cancelled, but suspect names surfaced, then a car description, then a New Jersey license plate number. This was perhaps the best service TV could offer, as the manhunt intensified.
But the worst coverage was the endless parade of so-called "experts" who could see into the minds of the killers, second-guess the police, reference their "sources," and generally sound like idiots. One idiot in question was on MSNBC, wondering aloud if the suspects, now that she knew they had Jamaican ties, were inspired by reggae singer Jimmy Cliff's 1971 movie, The Harder They Come. Say what?
I didn't find one who predicted the race, military background, or teenaged sidekick angle, and everyone got on the "white-van" bandwagon. No wonder they're former cops, criminal profilers, and attorneys.
One of the worst moments was former WBTV-er Rita Cosby, who now works for Fox News, getting publicity for her letter to imprisoned "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz. I guess Anthony Hopkins, er, Hannibal Lecter, was busy elsewhere.
And from what has turned into the bizarre world of Fox Charlotte, Mark Mathis, the station's weather answer to Rip Taylor, is drawing eyeballs during the Nielsen ratings book this month, and derision from competitors in the market. Mathis, clearly hired to be a shock value guy instead of a weatherman, smashed his own face into a birthday cake October 30, then dressed in drag the next night, Halloween. Funny? Sort of. Drawing attention? Yes.
Some newsies around town (including, I am told, some of the folks trying to do a legitimate news job at Fox 18) are reacting with disbelief at how low WCCB management has sunk to draw some attention. Or are they feeling haughty because water cooler talk about Mathis is tweaking Charlotte's stodgy news persona?
Both newsies and civilians agree that while there is some humor in some of Mathis' madness, if there's some actual weather news to report, WCCB will be the last place they'll go for real information.
A few years ago, I had a co-worker who had a secret file of bad press releases, those labors of love from PR people, politicians, and nonprofits. John saved the bad releases, the ones with misspellings and, our favorite, the ones with no time or date for the event, no contact name or phone number, never mind those balloons or plates of cookies that came with the nicely typed document.
I bring this up because I've been on the other side of the press release for the past few weeks, trying to draw attention to a news story/event as a volunteer. I hope you saw or read about the Charlotte's Women Build recently, because I helped the fine folks at Habitat for Humanity get the word out about the all-women house build last month. I now have a better appreciation for the art of the press release.
I knew the rules: one page only, all the big info up top, a cool logo, and bending over backwards to help reporters and editors with the angles. Trouble is, I forgot how much follow-up you have to do, like: reminding the assignment editors of the release, begging them to come cover the event, cajoling, nagging, and gently nudging them to send a photog, send a reporter, send anyone. I just hope my releases aren't in someone's secret file. And forgive me for not having a cookie budget. Stay tuned...
Story ideas or feedback? E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com
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Very well written article!