I’m reading about the “Tik Toc Generation.” What’s that? Is that even a thing? Did I misspell it correctly?
Feeling very much left in the dust. I don’t even have a smartwatch, but feel as though I should get one to signify that I am not completely irrelevant. I can’t imagine what’s going through young people’s minds with regard to anything, much less whether they give a damn about anything other than climate change which they apparently worry about a great deal. As they should. I see a former colleague has written a book, or perhaps I should say another book, about the early days of tv news in Los Angeles. Does anybody care?
I’m a guy who has multiple Emmys, a wall covered with various other awards from multiple organizations, including a Peabody, as I happened to have been with KTLA when George Holliday called CNN – only to be put on hold – so he called us and asked if we wanted his video of the cops beating the hell of some guy in Lake View Terrace. Just days later, a 15 year-old black girl, Latahsa Harlens, was shot and killed by a convenience store owner in South Central in a dispute over a $2 bottle of OJ. Not that any of this matters, but these and other factors did eventually contribute to causing the Los Angeles riots. I covered all of it.
At varying times, I also chased OJ up the 405 freeway in a news van and flew around South Dakota in a converted DC-3 with George McGovern, as he campaigned to get his senate seat back. I also got the very first and exclusive interview with John Z. DeLorean, following his acquittal on a charge of cocaine trafficking. Don’t remember John Z? Think “Back to the Future,” with Michael Fox.
I’m the guy who broke the story about the mammoth Casmalia toxic waste dump. A 252-acre superfund site that made the 17-acre Stringfellow site look like a kiddie pool. I was also one of the first journalists to arrive at the Bundy murder scene in Brentwood, I may have been the first reporter, in fact, when the bodies had yet to be covered and a river of blood flowed down the walkway. Carl Stein, a photog for CBS, was there before us.
There’s much more, like the invention of ENG and live news coverage in the mid-70’s, when we switched from film to tape, as well as the very first wall-to-wall live trial coverage featuring legal experts. You can blame us, broadcasters of my place in time, for what’s currently being done on MSNBC and CNN. We invented all that stuff for the Simpson trials. I was being called a “legal analyst” at the time, even though I never spent a day in law school.
There was also the “synergy” thing, when my boss, the Tribune Company, bought the Los Angeles Times, or specifically, the Times Mirror Company, which owned the newspaper. The price, as I recall, was something north of $6 billion. They came to me and wanted to know if I would be the go-between for KTLA-TV and the newspaper in an attempt to get those of us on the tv side working in some kind of partnership with the print journalists at the paper – most of whom hated those of us on the broadcast side. And so, I took a desk at the Los Angeles Times, and became one of the very first of only a handful of journalists to try and make cross-platform journalism or so-called “synergy,” work. I eventually got it done, although the effort put me in Cedars-Sinai, with a heart attack.
I have more than 40 years in the news biz and have offered my services as a speaker to two institutions of higher learning here in Maryland. Neither, favored me with a response. They used to at least send out a form letter. Now, you get nothing. This is all very interesting to me, in that UCLA asked me twice to teach an extension course back in the days when I was covering Simpson, and had no time to do anything else. Just goes to show, I guess, that when you’re hot you’re hot, and when you’re not, you’re out in the pasture flinging cow pies baked hard by the sun.
Thank you for listening, or reading, actually, not that specificity matters much any more. Not in this era of click-bait creativity and doing whatever gets you by with the least effort and highest degree of cost-effectiveness. Not that long ago, I actually thought the emphasis on hair and makeup was a problem.
(Originally published in the “Back Focus” group on Facebook)