September 2019

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          

« Too sexy for Apple | Main | In Haiti »

Feb 22, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Account Deleted

As an outside observer I can say that the misrepresentation of the "black book" from the beginning has been the worst part of the entire Wray Fray and its aftermath.

It bodes well that folks of conscience from all aspects have begun to call this into question.


Thank you for adding your voice to the curious, Ed. It may be true that this is common practice in TV nowadays, but sometimes the appearance of a subject is a meaningful part of understanding it. Video news should not use props when that is the case -- if that is indeed what happened here.


LMAO when I first saw this "report"; you knew it had to be a prop. Will this urban legend ever die?


Couldn't bring yourself to give me credit for that one, could you Ed? I pointed out this phony "black book" binder issue back on February 19th on Joe's thread and again on the 20th. I suppose just like you said about We101, you just "skip over" my posts/comments.

I'm glad that Roch and I are still in agreement on this issue about the black book and News 2's coverage, but really the lengths you will go to avoid giving me credit for anything have reached comical heights.

For a guy who claims to not care, you have that passive aggressive thing down pat and it's starting to become apparent to even some of your traditional allies.

As to the substance- yes, they did fake it. That is NOT the "black book".


A possible explanation.

Ed Cone

Calling the practice common is in no way an excuse for it -- hence the statement that "industry standards have dropped so low," and the link to the article saying, "It's deceptive...Viewers have a right to expect that what they see on the news really happened, and stations have a duty to label any footage that's more fiction than fact. The Radio-Television News Directors Association code of ethics says it clearly: 'Professional journalists should not present images or sounds that are reenacted without informing the public.'"


Sam, I saw your assertions before I wrote my post. I did not link to them became you claim to know the book was a prop without any substantiation (have you ruled out the possibility that maybe WFMY somehow got a look at the real "black book?") Linking to "Sam says it's fake," without Sam explaining how he knows that to be true is kind of, what's the term? Oh yeah, yellow journalism.


HAHAHA. So WFMY forgot to put the disclaimer that the "black book" footage was a renactment. Yea, that's the ticket. PS, thanks Spag and Roch for you efforts on this one.

Andrew Brod

I thought this was about WFMY and reporting standards. But I now understand that it's really about Spag.

sean coon

spag hates ed -- to such a degree that it makes a kid with a dead puppy from the hand of his drunken father giggle -- yet he actually wants, no, expects ed to not only read his blog, but to play nice with those linky things that he hates so much when ed uses them elsewhere.

ed, please hire spag as the managing editor of so we can all be spared the non-stop whining.

btw, who watches the local news nowadays anyways?


No Sean, Ed hates Spag. That's why he is so petty that he pretends/claims he doesn't read my stuff even when it is increasingly obvious on some occasions that he does and then does everything he can to avoid acknowledging it.

Roch, I wasn't challenging you on this one. I think we are on the same page. You raised the same questions as I did even though I am pretty certain the video is not of the real black book. It's a good thing you actually wrote a post on it though. Otherwise Ed would have just read my comments then wrote his own post pretending that he was engaging in some original thought on the subject.

Don Moore

I got to agree with Sean. Local news is no longer appointment TV. The TV industry has changed and local news is nothing more than filler between the advertising.


Ed, off topic, but why dont you do a "?'s for Robbie Perkins" post?

You can find some nice links at Guarino and Roch's sites.

sean coon

two people blogging local, topical issues within a similar time frame. go figure. it must be a conspiracy.

the unfortunate thing about the local news is that anyone watching it in during info age is probably less discriminating when it comes to the quality of the information presented. so in that sense, the stakes are higher, even if viewership isn't.


I'm very discriminating when it comes to Ed's forecast. And where did Leah Beano get off to. A pretty face doesn't last long around here.

Ed Cone

Sam, if you have a complaint here, which you really don't, it's with Bledsoe, who failed to credit your guess, which I had not seen, in his email, to which I linked.

You are not my nemesis, you're just some guy who has for years commented obsessively at my blog, and who increasingly tries to make thread after thread about himself and our imaginary relationship.

I'm just not that into you. Sorry.


"Sam, if you have a complaint here, which you really don't, it's with Bledsoe, who failed to credit your guess, which I had not seen, in his email, to which I linked."

Except that you did read the thread on Guarino's because you commented on it over there. In fact, you even linked to the thread in one of your posts. You went out of your way to ban me from your site before that under the guise of a "personal attack" which really was just because I kept exposing your hypocrisy for which you had no response; delinked me from your site, and later made sure my Google ads stopped showing up on your site. Yet, you want to convince people that I am somehow obsessed with YOU while being just an afterthought in your mind. Those were all conscious decisions on your part and certainly indicate that you view me as a "nemesis".

In your heart you know that I'm right, and if you don't then the record speaks for itself.

Andrew Brod

Sheesh, now Spag's talking about what's in Ed's heart. This is getting embarrassing.

sean coon

spag, is that the permanent record you speak of?


Dang it! Now I've got this stupid song stuck in my head.

Fred Gregory

Hey Cheri, let's pick a
Match for them

There are so many to choose from

Bets anyone


I know nothing of the report (or binder) in question - though Mac Ingraham IS a friend of mine. I CAN tell you that props/staging are NOT common practice in local broadcast news gathering (perhaps I missed a memo), that Leah Beno is alive and well in Minneapolis and that folks who boast of NEVER watching the local news still lean into their sets when others aren't looking. Those who know me will attest that I'm no apologist for TV News. But I (and many others around here) craft an honest, occasionally compelling product that - vehement protest from selected blogeratti aside - appears regularly in living rooms across the Piedmont. Careful with that broad brush there.

sean coon

hey lens, no one's saying that 8-10 local stories per day w/ weather and sports isn't honest (at least i'm not), but there's just so much more info out there to chose from. similarly, the live music scene here in town suffers along the same lines -- too many entertainment options. and yes, this includes the people who sit on their duffs (while drinking duff) watching the boob tube instead of going out and experiencing local culture.

nothing like keeping music where it's new and alive -- on cassette, old youtube clips and a once per year trip to a show down lee street.

btw, not that it's worth the gold star that i truly deserve, but i haven't had cable or working rabbit ears in two years. i'd rather lean into hulu, my news reader,, hoopshype or the local free press as a substitute. i'm sure i've missed some great local programming at some point. well, at least some well shot programming. the talking heads kill me.


No worries, Sean. I don't watch much of it myself. I just get a little prickly when folks dismiss ALL local TV news based on the worst of its weaknesses. It's kind of like assuming EVERY local band is a group of washed-up wannabes with zero talent. Occasionally accurate, but grossly negligent of all that's out there...

Ed Cone

"folks who boast of NEVER watching the local news still lean into their sets when others aren't looking."

I knew it! You guys CAN see us through the teevee, can't you?

Don't know about people who "boast" about not watching local news, but what about people who just say it, matter-of-factly because it's true?

Not "never" -- of course there are times when you know something or someone you care about is going to be featured, or you're surfing and a story catches your eye, etc. -- but effectively never, and certainly never as part of a news/entertainment routine.

The staples I used to go for -- local and regional sports, weather -- are now widely available to me elsewhere, on my own schedule, and in more depth.

Slinger, you know I have a lot of respect for your work and thoughtfulness, and Buckley's, too -- but overall, news and features are not luring me to the tube, certainly during the traditional broadcast windows. When something I care about comes on local tv news, I probably watch it as a clip on the web (like this WFMY report).

"Never" is a long time, and generalizations were made to be challenged, but competition, quality, and time-shifting are very real influences on (non)-viewer behavior.


Hey Lens, where did Tara Williams get off to?


I consider Lenslinger a friend. That aside, I've seen him work; had conversations with him about his profession and watched his work product with great admiration on occasion. No doubt here that he is a consummate professional with high standards and top-notch skills. Not all TV news is schlock.

I am left wondering though, why are the other media unwilling to investigate whether or not WFMY tried to pull the wool over its viewers eyes? I've certainly seen it happen in other markets--one TV station exposing the professional malpractice of another.

I understand that the N&R considered it for about two seconds. They are so adrift though, its not surprising they could not smell the newsiness reeking from this one. But the other TV stations? Even though fakery in a news story would stand on its own merits as legitimate subject matter, I would think professionals with higher standards would have a special interest in exposing it.

Lenslinger, you say that Mac is a friend. Would you ask him to answer the emails sent to him asking about this so that I don't have to jump into his next live shot with my camcorder for an impromptu interview.

sean coon

maybe i shouldn't have compared the two, lens. i mean, i appreciate what you're saying, but the local news really is the local news as far as i'm concerned, with only a few degrees of difference between channels, both here and elsewhere.

yes, there are different talking heads, different violent news to report, different local stories to cover, and most likely, varying degrees of quality across the board, but all in all, the format is close to being exactly the same. i'm sure if i watched each night, or if i were employed within the industry, i'd have a much more discrete take on the programming value between stations, crews, etc. as it is, i couldn't name one local anchor, meteorologist or sports reporter, which i happen to view as a healthy progression.

growing up in the metro-nyc area in the seventies and eighties, it seemed important to know (trust) all of the anchors, probably because they were only ones delivering the news in a mass format outside of the daily newspaper. on top of having a lock on a large slice of the news pie, ernie "keep f*cking that chicken" anastos had my eyes and ears locally because my dad needed to see the weather report prior to his morning commute and i needed the sports report due to there not being ESPN at the time.

those two must sees transitioned us nicely into the tonight show and the advertising gods were happy. one way or another, those days of a captured audience are gone. if a local story is important enough, i'm confident that it'll bubble up into my periphery, so i don't have to sit through 22 minutes of filler between advertising that might provide value every now and then.

i hope that doesn't sound arrogant, it's just how i manage my time, which i find to be more important the older i get.

it is good to hear that you believe props/staging in local news isn't a corporate driven play to compete in an entertainment driven world. the technology behind modern video editing systems is so advanced that a still shot of a black book could be the very least of our worries.

Andrew Brod

Roch, if the N&R won't cover this, perhaps the Rhino or Yes! Weekly will do so. They're feistier.

Ed Cone

Bledsoe says in his email he plans to write about it, which indicates Rhino coverage.


I lead a full life without watching much local TV myself and feel a little silly defending it. Like you, I find much of it crass and simplistic, a haphazard product drenched in innuendo and puffery. I could write whole books on all that is wrong with local TV news - if I didn't consider it such hackeyed ground. It is what it is. But what it AIN'T is nefarious. Your local news crew isn't plotting to sway public opinion; they're too busy racing toward a deadline most journalists would deem untenable. If there's a shadowy cabal orchestrating TV news tactics from on high, I'VE never met 'em. And I get around.

As for viewer patterns, they're certainly dimishing. This information renaissance has spawned countless new forms of communication as anyone reading this blog well knows. I (and others) find this schism invogorating, as it holds our storytelling to a higher standard. I cannot speak for other stations, but I can tell you the people I work with don't intentionally mislead anyone. Local TV news isn't all that it should be and you're more than justified to make sure you miss it. I often do. But to dismiss entirely the (sometimes frayed) tapestry that is local television is to lessen your grasp of the very region. The sun does not rise and fall on The Sound of the Beep. Neither does it rest on the News and Record's every printed syllable. For such a well traveled crowd, you guys are quick to kick my medium to the curb. Occasionally, the protests grow a little shrill.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go chase down a local news story you probably won't watch. Whose loss that is remains to be seen...

Ed Cone

If local news had more Slingers and Buckleys, I'd watch more local news. These two also get the web, and got it pretty early. Slinger's a certified online pioneer.

Although the linked article about reenactments and such is aimed at a broad target, the immediate question here is not whether our local stations doctor their reports (interesting though that question is), but whether WFMY used a stand-in binder for this particular report.

A lot of the competition that's muscled aside local news is stuff like ESPN, Weather Channel, and the web. Similar patterns are hitting print hard.

Sean mentions things rising to his attention. That's how local tv news tends to come to me -- someone will mention a story or blog about it, and then I'll go find it online.


The problem was not with the stunt double black book, but the story itself. I thought the black book issue had been settled. Even Mitch fessed up under oath. Why dredge it all up again, and be completely WRONG again. There's your credibility gap.


Well said, Lenslinger.

Like others here, for me it is not so much that I don't watch "local TV news," it is the way I watch it and the way it comes to my attention. I don't sit down at the top of the hour and let an anchor carry me through. Like Sean, local news video pops up fr me in other online contexts as I am consuming news and information at my leisure.

When it comes to local TV news getting into my pipeline, WXII has created a route to their videos by posting them on YouTube. Although they have foolishly disallowed embedding of those videos, at least they are getting into YouTube's RSS feeds which gives them a wider audience, allowing them to show up in blog readers and aggregators like Greensboro101, which is how they find me. WXII reporter Bill O'Neil supplements this from time to time by posting his video to his blog.

While WFMY and WGHP do allow embedding of videos, neither offers an RSS feed for their latest video news. Bummer. So their news comes to my attention when someone embeds it or links to it, which means it reaches me as a secondary or supplemental source to a story that has already caught my attention through another outlet. Local TV news is rarely a starting place for me, but it is a part of my media diet and definitely still holds great influence with the masses -- which is why Mr. Ingraham should not slink away from explaining the "black book."

Andrew Brod

As I've said in other contexts, context matters. What's so problematic about a stunt binder is that the "black book" was at the core of the Wray matter: what it was, what it contained, who had it, etc. Using reenacted footage of something tangential, like maybe a tracking device being installed under a car, wouldn't be so bad because there was no controversy about the thing itself, and no one would believe that the original act was ever filmed. But plopping a big black binder on a table while discussing the "black book" is inherently inflammatory in this context.


I'm just glad somebody noticed this News 2 prop and decided to blog about it and start asking questions. Otherwise, I might not have know about it.

Same thing with Mitch Johnson admitting under oath that the "black book" was legitimate. If it hadn't been for those two guys who sued the City, I might not have known about that either. It think Roch Smith Jr. was one of them also. I can't remember the name of the other guy who has been raising these issues and was involved in that lawsuit. Does anyone here know?

But the point is that Ed has brought all of this to our attention so we should thank him for being ahead of the curve and doing his research. Now it can be discussed out in the open.

Regardless, News 2 tried to pull a fast one with the phony black book prop and by not setting the record straight about the underlying phony black book myth.

Ed Cone

Thanks for the kind words, Sam, but in fact I just linked to Roch's blog post that contains Bledsoe's email.


Hey, I had to read the News and Record to find out the names of those two guys who sued the City and forced Mitch Johnson to admit under oath that the black book was legitimate because I never read them here. I'm surprised that you never read that article or any of the other blogs because I would have thought for certain that you would have mentioned them at some point.

I do think Jerry Bledsoe actually mentions the binder AND the admission by Mitch Johnson in his email. Roch Smith Jr. probably knows a lot about both so it's a good thing you read his blog.

The comments to this entry are closed.