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Stephani Shelton

Dan... I'm sure we know each other at least in passing; yu were at CBS at the same time I was (as a correspondent - mostly radio news). I linked to your website from ShopTalk for a moment and got sucked in! Very very worthwhile stuff - espcially to someone like me who is fighting for air (and relevance) in today's news business. To fall back on I have a video production company with another former CBS newser. But my heart isn't in it. However - there doesn't seem to be much left for us old-style journalists so at this late date I will try to get more political "smarts" and move on.... Great website, good information and I wish you lots of good luck with your unique consultant concept!

Dan

Stephani--

I want to react to some of your comments before getting into the thank you's and reminiscences.

You self-reference as "someone like me who is fighting for air (and relevance) in today's news business." You go on later, "there doesn't seem to be much left for us old-style journalists".

I ask you young broadcast journalists to ponder these statements. There are certainly hundreds of exceptionally talented men and women between the ages of forty-something and seventy-something who have been put out to pasture by the news executives in the broadcast media. These are people who won Emmys and DuPonts. Who created the paradigms for coverage and broadcast construction that are the grammar of every news program or cable channel. The women in their 50's broke the gender barrier, breaking out of being limited to being secretaries and researchers. At CBS, women went on strike to be allowed to wear pants to work. These are the elders, and they have enormous talent and most are as fresh today as they were 30 years ago.

Why aren't they working. And, young people, will you let this happen to you? Do you think, as we often hear, that the corporate people believe that middle aged and older people are out of touch? Out here in Hollywood, where entertainment executives tend to be very young, how likely are they to hire older producers? Well, who created and produces "American Idol"? A bunch of "old men" from England! Who produces hit drama series? Dick Wolf (Law & Order)? Steven Bochco and his dozen offspring, like Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow of "24"? All three of them have gray hair. So what's going on in the news business?

First of all, money and benefits. Stephani's and my generation were largely tossed out of the business during several rounds of cutbacks over the past 20 years. Those of you in the business now don't have the salaries and benefits we had. Can you picture the stopwatch in the opening tease of "60 Minutes"? It's an old-fashioned silver stopwatch, with black and red hands, and a winding round knob on top. Well, get this. When I was hired as a news writer at CBS, just like everybody else, I was GIVEN a stopwatch exactly like that--silver!--AND with the CBS logo engraved on the back. Everyone at the Broadcast Center on West 57th Street in Manhattan carried theirs, some around their necks, others in their pockets. They were in the supply cabinets, with the pens and the reporter's notebooks. Can you imagine? And you KNEW you were working for the class outfit, that you were respected, and that you bore the weight of the responsibility of the tradition of CBS News.

It's true, as many people will jump on me if I don't point out, that there are lots of 50ish people running things in broadcast newsrooms and magazine production units.

But it's true, as Stephani laments, that having feelings that you're not "relevant", and that there's something about "old-style journalists", has affected a generation. It's maddening, and these people need to be working journalists again, doing what they love, what they have lived for. Do you think Jayson Blair would have gotten past Stephani? I'll bet you a ZonePerfect Bar Mr. Blair would not. MSNBC is dying, and they think hiring screaming conservatives will save them. I can assure you, as I have them, it won't. Here's an idea: hire broadcast journalists over 50! Let them re-create the channel. I guarantee in 2 years it's competitive with CNN.

I want to invite Stephani to author an entry if she would like to contribute to the blog.

Kids, all of you who want to be on camera, in the year 2023, do you want some kid who's now 3 to tell you you don't know what's happening out there, the buzz? Make part of your career strategy to fight ageism! Don't let them pull you off the air at 35, young women!

Now I want to say to Stephani, of course I remember you, and your comment is so kind--thank you so much. The Broadcast Center was so exciting in those days. My friends there were so brilliant, what a joyful golden time. Of course, in my unit, management always sucked, and for a while we had a news director who actually came in every day, dropped acid, and closed his door. We never saw him, even after the 11. But we happy few had wonderful times. I loved my writing. I admit it. I was taught to produce a newscast by a brilliant producer named Dick Clark, who died very far too young. Some nights my gang would head down to the Village and pub crawl until dawn. Other times I'd pick my way through the loading dock on 56th Street to where I had my 240Z parked, head home and crash. Some mornings when I would come in at, say, 4:00am, for the early news, I would love seeing office doors open to reveal who had slept the night in the director's lounge, or whether lead anchor Jim Jensen would pop out with this morning's cutie.

Have fun! Do what you love! Revere the older people you can truly learn from. Outwit the nitwits.

Dan

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