So much for KSFY’s growth story

Things are looking up again for KELO-TV.

I reported last month that the Sioux Falls CBS affiliate, while still the dominant station for local TV news, had seen ratings slip to their lowest point in several years. KSFY, meanwhile, had been gaining ground the last couple years.

That trend evidently stopped during the November sweeps period. Little changed at 5 and 6 p.m., but KELO appeared to take viewers back from KSFY at 10 p.m.

KELO’s late-news audience share grew from a 37 in November 2011 to a 43 this year - their best number for that newscast in the last five ratings books.

KSFY’s share - despite their time-tested viewership strategy of going undercover* to see how much money one can get from strangers - plummeted from a 15 to 8, their lowest number in more than five years.

KDLT held its 5 share.

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* Here’s KSFY GM Jim Berman defending the panhandling story: “I’m sure you can pick apart anything that anyone is doing. … We did what we thought was a pretty meaningful story … because there is now this potential for this law to come on the books. We didn’t do it just to do it. That same day, (KELO’s sweeps piece was) what’s going on in the world of commercial photography. You tell me which one is the more meaningful piece.”

Tags: KELO KSFY KDLT

When what’s public ain’t

KELO’s story last night on Pam Homan’s contract began thusly:

“Making public employee contracts public was a priority for some South Dakota lawmakers this session …”

I laughed when I heard it, because it tells us that public employee contracts previously were not public — at least in the eyes of the Sioux Falls and Yankton school districts and an administrative law judge, who decided the state’s ballyhooed open-records law actually turned once-public records private.

Imagine that. Her salary was public, but the fact that the school board was giving Homan an extra $22,000 cash each year, among other benefits, was not public.

Homan told Rick Knobe last September that her benefits were pretty much the same as when she signed her first contract as superintendent in 2004. I had no reason to believe that wasn’t the case.

Now that the law has been changed, we know for sure.

Yes KELO, there is a Legislature

Yikes.

KELO reported quite falsely this morning that education and Medicaid suffered the same cuts last year as the rest of the state budget.

Educators Hopeful for Measure 15 

By Austin Hoffman
Published: December 5, 2011, 6:56 AM

It was one of the most heated topics to come out of the last legislative session: A ten percent, across the board cut in state funding. Education and Medicaid didn’t get any special treatment.

Although that was Gov. Daugaard’s initial proposal, the Legislature ultimately found many millions for K-12 schools and Medicaid.

The per-student formula was reduced by 8.6 percent, not 10 percent. And after one-time money, the actual per-student cut for public schools was only 6.6 percent for FY12.

The more interesting story in KELO’s one-source report with “local administrators” [sic] seems to be how Tea Area Schools are raising money:

Laboranti says Tea has been great in supporting the school system, but they cannot continue to rely on the pubic to fundraise.

Worry not, Chester Area school lunchers

KELO’s Nov. 30 story on school lunch rules reads like it was written months ago. It relates the concerns of Chester Area School officials that healthier school lunch guidelines will be too expensive and lead to more wasted food.

Among their complaints:

It would also limit starchy vegetables including corn and potatoes to two servings per week instead of two servings a day. The starches would be switched with less common vegetables.

“The chick peas, the sweet potatoes and the okra are all three things they would like us to serve our students. We don’t even have that available to us and as an adult, I’ve never eaten okra. Not that I wouldn’t try it but for kids to, that would be really tough. We are still trying to get them used to peas and green beans,” [Elementary Principal Faith] Stratton said.

This is a legitimate concern. Or at least it was when I wrote about the proposed rules in March.

But then Congress changed the rules, killing the limit on starchy vegetables and allowing schools to count the tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable serving. President Obama signed the bill Nov. 18. Fries and pizza for everyone!

And apostrophes too!

One small school district doing it’s best to feed it’s student’s healthy food, hoping the federal government doesn’t tell them they are doing it wrong.

"Stranger danger" will not die

A guy took pictures of kids outside two Sioux Falls elementary schools on Thursday. Naturally, this led to calls from the schools to police and parents and hysterical TV news coverage.

KSFY found this to be a fine opportunity to warn of “stranger danger.” Enjoy this one-source story about “parents” (sic) talking to their children:

My favorite part of the report is when KSFY cites tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the same organization that says perpetuating the “stranger danger” myth is not helpful.

KELO made me laugh when they led their 5 p.m. newscast with their tale of a suspicious stranger. It had to be a little awkward for the cameraman who was sent to shoot B-roll of kids walking around outside a school.

He addressed this awkwardness by adjusting his lens so that the students would be out of focus. Presumably, he did this so as not to associate himself with the dangerous man who was the subject of the report.

Where the news comes from

The Associated Press did a good thing this month when it began adding links to the original reports on its wire service. Here’s an example:

My co-worker Megan Luther wrote a story for Sunday about the state collecting sales tax on charitable organizations that hand out free food. No other news organization had this story. The AP copied the story and put it on its wire for use by other organizations, adding some language about where the news came from: ” … told the Argus Leader.”

In the past, that’s all the AP did within the wire story to acknowledge the source. Now, they’re also adding links to the original reports, in this case http://bit.ly/mXDbDG

That lets the reader on some other news organization’s website click through to the original report, which usually has more information.

For another example, see how the Mitchell Daily Republic’s story on a Bill Janklow speeding ticket appears on other newspaper sites in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.

Everybody wins, right? Well, only until TV stations get involved.

KDLT, KSFY and KELO – all AP members – have stories on the sales tax controversy and the Janklow ticket on their websites, yet they attribute the news to the AP and make no mention of the Argus Leader or Daily Republic, much less provide links to the original reports. When TV news anchors read these stories on air, of course, attribution disappears entirely, giving viewers the impression that the stations found and reported the news on their own.

Why not give credit where it’s due? Perhaps, because you want to be seen as a organization that reports the news, not simply recycles it.

KELO convicts girl of murder

I’ve been cheered by friends and acquaintances lately for using this blog to pick on KELO-TV. I haven’t intended to do so, but this headline is begging me to call attention to it.

Diaz, in fact, has not been found guilty of anything. The AG’s office announced today that Diaz will be tried as an adult. The news release even goes so far as to say, explicitly: “Diaz is presumed innocent until such time as proven guilty.”

Tags: KELO mistakes

My last blog, posted Monday, was about former school board member Debbie Hoffman taking $75 from the school district for doing an interview with KELO-TV.
KELO’s Katie Janssen did her own story on the matter on Tuesday. Janssen reported she spoke off-camera with Hoffman, who gave this explanation:
(Hoffman) did say she was very careful in what she  chose to expense while serving on the school board. She also says she  did two more interviews with KELO News in the two months that followed,  one about the budget and another about Hoffman’s school board campaign,  and she didn’t expense either one of those. 
It’s true Hoffman did not expense the campaign interview, which would have required some serious gumption, but she did get paid for the April 13 budget interview. The above minutes show that, as well as some of the other meetings that board members invoiced.
For what it’s worth, the budget for board member pay is $33,750 this year, down from $37,700 last year. That’s because budget cuts reduced the number of paid meetings from 100 to 90, so each member can expect about $6,750 this year, down from $7,500.

My last blog, posted Monday, was about former school board member Debbie Hoffman taking $75 from the school district for doing an interview with KELO-TV.

KELO’s Katie Janssen did her own story on the matter on Tuesday. Janssen reported she spoke off-camera with Hoffman, who gave this explanation:

(Hoffman) did say she was very careful in what she chose to expense while serving on the school board. She also says she did two more interviews with KELO News in the two months that followed, one about the budget and another about Hoffman’s school board campaign, and she didn’t expense either one of those.

It’s true Hoffman did not expense the campaign interview, which would have required some serious gumption, but she did get paid for the April 13 budget interview. The above minutes show that, as well as some of the other meetings that board members invoiced.

For what it’s worth, the budget for board member pay is $33,750 this year, down from $37,700 last year. That’s because budget cuts reduced the number of paid meetings from 100 to 90, so each member can expect about $6,750 this year, down from $7,500.

Should we pay a school board member for doing a TV interview? 
On March 21, the Argus Leader published a story I wrote about a proposed change in Sioux Falls School District policy  concerning searches of teacher’s personal property. Teachers were upset  with the policy, and they eventually got their way.
After our story ran, KELO-TV did its own story on the same subject. Katie Janssen spoke with the union president and  with Debbie Hoffman, one of two school board members who serve on the  policy review committee.
For that TV interview, Hoffman later submitted a claim to the school  district’s business office for $75. During the April 25 board meeting,  the rest of the board approved that claim.
I’d never seen that before. An elected official was paid for  participating in a TV interview. She was paid not by the TV station,  which is another matter altogether, but by the tax-supported governing body on which she serves. In other words, us.
I’d have written a story about it, but it turns out our Brenda  Wade-Schmidt basically did the same story for the newspaper in 2003. She  wrote:
“Sioux Falls School Board members get paid for reading to  elementary  school children, attending Chamber of Commerce events, doing  newspaper  and television interviews, and handing out diplomas.
Last year, the five members earned $31,680, ranking them among the highest paid school boards in the state.
They earned payments for attending dozens of meetings. But they  also  were paid for activities such as attending a press conference with  Gov.  Bill Janklow, taping a program for the district’s OWL-TV station  and lobbying legislators in Pierre, an Argus Leader analysis of district  pay records shows.
That story did not lead to a change in district policy - or perhaps more to the point, state law - although I’ve noticed it’s fairly rare for board members today to submit claims for payment.
The statutory language that allowed Hoffman to get paid is as follows: The per diem may be paid for each meeting actually attended by such member and also for each day a member was actually engaged in the service of the board when authorized by the board.
If it weren’t for KELO, Hoffman would not have been “engaged in the service of the board” on that Monday.

Should we pay a school board member for doing a TV interview?

On March 21, the Argus Leader published a story I wrote about a proposed change in Sioux Falls School District policy concerning searches of teacher’s personal property. Teachers were upset with the policy, and they eventually got their way.

After our story ran, KELO-TV did its own story on the same subject. Katie Janssen spoke with the union president and with Debbie Hoffman, one of two school board members who serve on the policy review committee.

For that TV interview, Hoffman later submitted a claim to the school district’s business office for $75. During the April 25 board meeting, the rest of the board approved that claim.

I’d never seen that before. An elected official was paid for participating in a TV interview. She was paid not by the TV station, which is another matter altogether, but by the tax-supported governing body on which she serves. In other words, us.

I’d have written a story about it, but it turns out our Brenda Wade-Schmidt basically did the same story for the newspaper in 2003. She wrote:

“Sioux Falls School Board members get paid for reading to elementary school children, attending Chamber of Commerce events, doing newspaper and television interviews, and handing out diplomas.

Last year, the five members earned $31,680, ranking them among the highest paid school boards in the state.

They earned payments for attending dozens of meetings. But they also were paid for activities such as attending a press conference with Gov. Bill Janklow, taping a program for the district’s OWL-TV station and lobbying legislators in Pierre, an Argus Leader analysis of district pay records shows.

That story did not lead to a change in district policy - or perhaps more to the point, state law - although I’ve noticed it’s fairly rare for board members today to submit claims for payment.

The statutory language that allowed Hoffman to get paid is as follows: The per diem may be paid for each meeting actually attended by such member and also for each day a member was actually engaged in the service of the board when authorized by the board.

If it weren’t for KELO, Hoffman would not have been “engaged in the service of the board” on that Monday.


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