WAPT: Will Ashton’s Punk’d Try…?

…to pull a stunt similar to this one…?


While I’ve never worked in the Jackson media, I can only wonder why this interview was booked in the first place. I can only assume “Borat Sagdiyev’s” documentary of America was shooting in Jackson — or so Sacha Cohen would have WAPT believe.

Naturally, this is a lesson for all of us in the media. Speaking as producer of WDAM’s News 7 Today, whenever I get an interview request, one of the first questions I ask is, “What’s in it for our viewers?” Other question I ask, “By the end of the interview, will we end up offering a local phone number to viewers — and if it’s a long-distance number, will it be an in-state number?” In other words, we strive to make a strong local connection with each interview request. And if none is made, it gets placed in File 13 unless there’s a really good reason behind it.

Take for example that unfortunate series of incidents I brought up here last October with Direct Media Services (where you can’t spell “dim bulbs” without DMS). You’ll recall they tried to snooker us into a satellite interview with a sex therapist. I still stand behind my previous take such an interview is not suitable for morning TV. Frank and open sex talk doesn’t go well with a bagel — and that’s an opinion from one of DMS’ competitors. And as I opined earlier, since this interview was declined last fall, children getting ready for school could’ve been watching had this aired.

Long before the incidents, I pleaded with DMS to find interviews with Mississippi connections for us. My cries for help went unanswered — as they tried to interest me in nonsense over interviews related to cable shows and the like.

Further, not too long ago, we got an interview request from a P.R. guy related to a syndicated show — which isn’t even on our schedule. Further, it doesn’t air at all in the market. Needless to say, any plans to air this interview died quickly.

Anyhow, back to “Borat” for a moment. And as I go back to my original query of “Why bother?”, let’s see what I would’ve done if I were morning producer at WAPT.

Since WAPT is an ABC station, if the “documentary” were to air on ABC, I’d understand that. Further, if “Borat’s” film were showing at a college/university in the Jackson area, I’d at least give it consideration.

However, if the documentary aired on another network, broadcast or cable, I’d say forget it. July’s a ratings period after all — and you never want to give your viewers a reason to change the channel. If you’re not working for a Fox affil and yet your next door neighbor’s in the final two on American Idol, let the Fox station plug the hell out of it and cover that city council meeting instead (or do something just as constructive).

Mr. Kellogg claims his WAPT news staff researched the production company. Ah, but an internet search lead me to a Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borat. The first sentence in the online encyclopedia entry clearly states “Borat” is a product of fiction.

Again, it’s a lesson for all of us in the media. Let’s learn it.

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