By Nicole Hawker, Vistra Communications
The fifth program day of our Leadership Tampa 2017 journey, Media Day, was made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Tampa Bay Times. Our program chairs for the day, Scot Kaufman (LT ‘09), Media Sales Manager, WUSF Pubic Media; Dawn Philips (LT ’14), Senior Advertising Manager, Tampa Bay Times; and JoAnn Urofsky (LT ’00), General Manager, WUSF Public Media, were gracious hosts. They organized a fulfilling and engaging program, and set up #MediaDay on Twitter for classmates to tweet thoughts throughout the day.
Media Day provided insight into the changing media landscape, specifically addressing how media impacted the most recent presidential election. We visited and were engaged by organizations that represent the major mediums that push news, including newspaper, television, radio and social.
We began the day in downtown Tampa at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Skanska Room with a light breakfast to get us energized for everything that was to come. Bruce Faulmann (LT ’03), Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Tampa Bay Times, provided a brief introduction on the state of media today and how it is evolving in a time of change. Three key points he made on the state of the media today include: it is a crucial element in our country’s founding, it provides an opinion on where the country should go, and it’s role is to influence opinion.
Our first speaker of the day was Joey Baird, Senior Director, Digital Marketing, Sparxzoo. As brand leaders and digital trendsetters, Sparxzoo fuses branding and marketing to help businesses and organizations market themselves through online platforms.
Joey presented on the age of “always on digital media” and the world we live in today. His focus was on how digital media affects us in general and how it affected the most recent presidential election. He also provided some interesting predictions on how digital media will affect future elections. He said we’ll see an increase in negative campaigning, more people will say things on social media they wouldn’t say in person and email hacking will continue to grow.
WUSF Public Media
Our next stop of the morning was on the University of South Florida campus at WUSF Public Media. Founded in 1963, WUSF offers a variety of programming on television, radio, and online, as well as curriculum-based programming in Title One schools throughout the Tampa Bay region. With four TV stations – WUSF TV, WUSF Create, WUSF Knowledge and WUSF Kids – viewers experience a variety of PBS and other programming that focuses on public affairs, science, nature, travel, drama and kids. Radio listeners have the option of tuning in to WUSF 89.7, west central Florida’s NPR station or Classical WSMR, 89.1 and 103.9, which is devoted to classical music.
WUSF Public Media also produces a weekly radio show, Florida Matters, which tackles tough issues, highlights little-known stories about Florida, and provides a greater perspective on what it means to live in the Sunshine State. The weekly show explores issues that are most important to Floridians and covers challenges that face our state. Our class was honored to witness the taping of Florida Matters: Social Media, ‘Fake News’ And Politics. Guests panelists Peter Schorsch, Publisher of SaintPetersblog and Sunburn, Josh Gillin of Politifact Florida, and USF Communications Professor Kelli Burns, sat down with WUSF Host Carson Cooper to discuss how the 2016 presidential election was affected by social media, fake news and fact checking.
Class members Ray Wong, Gresham, Smith and Partners; Maggie McCleland, Academy Prep Center of Tampa; Ethan Shipiro, Hill Ward Henderson, PA; Dean Rustin, Bisk Education, Inc.; Krsiti Tozer, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo; Ryan Garlow, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB; Calvin Williams, University of South Florida; Glenn Zimmerman, MadBear Productions; and Randall Woods, Florida Blue were brave enough to ask the panelists challenging questions during the audience engagement portion of the show.
An interesting tidbit from Peter Schorsch – he said, “Political candidates are selling an idea and vision. If you are searching for facts in politics, you will never find it.” A key thought into the state of our political climate today and the challenges media outlets face when covering politics.
Florida Matters: Social Media, ‘Fake News” And Politics was produced by Robin Sussingham. The show aired on WUSF 89.7 on Tuesday, November 22 and is available to stream online at http://www.wusf.usf.edu/news/program/florida_matters.
After the taping of Florida Matters, we broke into groups and participated in various media exercises, including mock radio newscasts and television segments.
Next we headed back downtown to WFLA, Tampa’s NBC affiliate television broadcast station. We were greeted by Andy Alford, President & General Manager, WFLA, News Channel 8 & WTTA, Great 38 and Bill Berra, Vice President, News, WFLA, and were given a brief overview of the station during lunch. As a part of this community for 60 years, WFLA’s first broadcast was of the Gasparilla Parade. The station now produces more than 60 hours a week of locally-produced content, including shows such as Daytime, exclusive coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and news.
During the recent political season, WFLA provided local coverage of rallies and local elections, as well as broadcast the national debates and conventions. Financially, this time of year is significant for television stations, as ad revenue for WFLA topped more than $70 million.
As the 11th largest market in the country, WFLA faces many challenges as to how they cover politics in the future. It is common for people to think television news outlets have an agenda, which they say they don’t. And anticipating the sensitivities on the way they cover politics now that the election is over is important. With the industry changing so much, WFLA is focused on serving the local community through a multi-platform approach for both editorial and advertising.
After the presentation by Mr. Alford and Mr. Berra, we were given a tour of the News and Daytime sets. We had the privilege of meeting Daytime hosts Jerry Penacolic and Cyndi Edwards.
Tampa Bay Times
We ended the day at the Tampa Bay Times. Joe Deluca, Vice President and Publisher, Tampa Bay Times, provided an interesting overview of the future of newspapers in an ever changing media environment. As a publisher he sees many challenges the newspaper industry is facing. He conveyed the perception that newspapers are a dying industry and said that is self-inflicted. After review of several statistics on the newspaper industry and readership numbers during the past two decades, it was presented that the decline is not about the product. It is about the way it is being delivered. Journalism is still as important as ever, but technology has changed the behavior of consumers. In order to overcome these challenges, the newspaper industry must understand the product and its value, and provide locally relevant news, high caliber journalism and locally relevant advertising, while continuing to build a portfolio of distribution channels that make sense for the consumer.
We then had the privilege of witnessing Sue Carlton, Columnist, Tampa Bay Times, interview Paul Tash, Chairman and CEO, Times Publishing Company. Mr. Tash answered questions that were submitted by members of the class. He discussed the acquisition of the Tampa Tribune and the opportunities and surprises that have come from it. He also discussed the election coverage and the Times’ approach to balance.
And last but not least, Ernest Hooper (LT ’03), East Hillsborough County Bureau Chief & Columnist, Tampa Bay Times, took our class through “The Front Page Exercise”. We broke into groups and were tasked with determining the headlines for the Tampa Bay Times 1A and 1B sections for next edition. We were provided a list of headlines to choose from, and were interrupted throughout the session with breaking news items or additional information on stories we were already aware. The exercise was helpful in better understanding how the newsroom makes editorial decisions every day.