Category Archives: Journalism

Brian’s Blog: Do Blogs Really Matter?

 If you are reading these words, then you are of a belief that blogs matter. I believe they do too. But you and I are but two people in a big world. And maybe we are in the minority.

 We live in such a time right now; when anyone can make themselves well-known (either famous or infamous) based on the words they write and then publish. Blogs can provide a glimpse into someone’s soul: what they believe, what they value, what they cherish.

 But there are so many blogs out there right now. I feel fortunate to have you reading this because I know I have so many “competitors”, so many other writers who have something to say and a forum to say it in. This is my forum and this is what I want to say.

I am at home behind a keyboard. I began typing out short stories on an old typewriter when I was about 8-years-old. I can not imagine a life where I did not regularly sit down and write.

 Why do blogs matter? Because I believe, boiled down, blogs are about human nature. People have a desire to share. People have  a desire to learn and for their minds and hearts to be stimulated. People want to know that someone is there and that someone cares; that someone is paying attention. I think, in a way, blogs do this. Write something in a blog and you are automatically sharing something. And if that something is of value, it makes you think and perhaps you learn something about the world around you. Or maybe you learn something about yourself. And if you write a blog and someone reads it, that shows a level of caring. Even if you never see that reader face to face. Even if you never know who that person is….they took the time to click the link that leads them to your blog and they read your words.

 I write my blog through WordPress. And a part of the blog function allows me to see how many people have found my blog worthy enough to read. And I fortunate in the fact that when I publish something, hundreds of people usually take the time to read it. It is humbling and it is confounding all at the same time.

 Do blogs matter? Yes. Because words matter. And the sentiment behind words matter. If you have ever heard someone say “It’s not what you say but how you say it”, they are only half right. It IS what you say but it’s also how you say it.

 There are wonderful people in this world. Delicate people who may not have the confidence or social skills to get what’s on their mind and in their heart…off their chest. They may feel uncomfortable in a public setting. They may feel uncomfortable in actually saying something they believe out loud. They may feel they don’t really have a voice.

 I have a voice. I don’t know if it ever says anything of value, but I hope it does. And sometimes, that voices comes out through my fingers when I type on a keyboard to form my blogs.

 Words matter. Thoughts matter. 

 And please don’t ever make the mistake in thinking that blogs need to be cold hard facts or an outlet for opinion. While both have their place, I would implore you to never, ever turn your back on emotion. Too many people pay too much attention to their brain and not enough attention to their heart. The best emotions in life are based in your heart: consideration, compassion, understanding and love. This world would be a better place if those ideals were adhered to more.

 Words matter. My words. Your words. The words of others. It can be overwhelming and it can seem like when you add it all up it just adds to the noise of the world. Maybe it does. But a quiet world would be boring.

Brian’s Blog: How Much Social Media Is Too Much? (and some random thoughts)

 The question I pose in the title of this blog is a massive can of worms just waiting to be opened; how much social media is too much?

 As a part of my job, I am encouraged to have a presence in social media. I am encouraged to leave a positive footprint and encouraged to use social media to develop a connection with my family, friends, listeners and viewers. And given the technological advances that are being made….almost daily…I understand social media’s value and worth. This isn’t going to be one of those blogs that criticizes and downgrades social media as being something that will lead to the downfall of society and the end of humanity as we know it.

 That being said, again, I think it is smart and wise to pose the question: how much social media is too much?

 As I sit here, I can think of several different social media applications that I use daily. If you want to find me on Twitter, you can. If you would like to follow my work on KSFY-HD in Sioux Falls, you can do that as well by liking my professional Facebook page. You can see some of my work (past and present) by looking or subscribing to my YouTube channel. I am well connected professionally, and you can check that out by visiting by LinkedIn profile. And so on and so forth.

 But, is it too much?

 For example, I place value on having all those accounts and others. But as you sit there reading those words, how many of those above links would you seriously click on and follow up on? Do you want to follow me on Twitter? Do you want to follow me on Facebook? LinkedIn? YouTube? Et cetera?

 I know from the weekly reports I receive on these accounts that people are finding and connecting with me. And I am not doing any type of “advertising” or anything. It is just happening.

 On one hand, it is humbling to think that people would be interested in what I say and what I do. It truly is. I work primarily in TV news but I never think that what I do makes me unique or special or anything like that. In fact, I abhor people who have that attitude. Mass media, specifically news broadcasting, is for the benefit of the public. And those who work in news should never make the mistake that what they do makes them any better or more important than anyone else. My job is different, yes, but it allows for widespread recognition (and if I do my job poorly, widespread criticism).

Random Thoughts

(1) If I had satellite radio, it would constantly be set on the “70’s on 7” channel and I would leave it there. Is there any music better than the 70’s?

(2) The song “Love’s Theme” by Barry White came onto my I Pod today while I was driving around and it brought a smile to my face. Listen and enjoy.

(3) My son Austin is truly my Mother’s revenge on me. Quick, witty and questions everything. It would be admirable if it wasn’t constant and coming from an 8-year-old. Sigh.

(4) Love has a way of making everything better….if you just let it.

(5) Sometimes, photoshop can make you laugh. I saw this today in my Facebook feed and it made me laugh. Rockin’ on the Enterprise!

“I’m not a guitarist Jim….oh wait….”

 Thanks for stopping by and taking a read. It is always appreciated. Here’s hoping you have a good rest of your day.

Brian’s Blog: Grandpa Keller

 I don’t really know how common this is or not. It is not one of those things that naturally pops up in conversation with friends. But I was a lucky little kid because, for a while, I had my great-grandfather in my life.

 His name was Harry Keller. He was my grandmother’s father. And I remember him. He died when I was about 5-years-old. But for a time while I was young, he and I lived in the same house. We were around each other every day.

 He was always good natured. I remember a lot of hugs and a lot of butterscotch candy that he would slip me when no one was looking. It was good. I think it is why I still like them to this day. I remember doing silly dances for him to make him laugh. I remember a lot of Summer afternoons in the backyard, looking at rose bushes that he attended to. I remember drinking lemonade with him at the kitchen table when it was hot outside.

Harry Keller was my great-grandfather. He is pictured here in either the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. He was an exceptional man.

 He was such a dear man. Such a sweet man. The story that I don’t think I will ever forget was the afternoon he and I were in the backyard. I had an oversized set of golf clubs and I hit the big plastic ball that came with them over the backyard fence. He hoisted me over the fence so I could get the ball, but half-way through the hoist I ended up getting stuck on the fence and he couldn’t get me off. He had to run inside for help and I remember thinking “Where are you going? I am stuck on a fence!”

 I remember the winter’s day where a storm had moved in. It was snowing a lot. And he decided he was going to walk one block to the grocery store. I told him I wanted to go with him and he said no, that he would be right back. I remember standing at the kitchen window, tears streaming down my face as he walked into the snow. I did not want him to go alone and didn’t understand how anyone else thought it was OK for a nearly 80-year-old man to walk into a winter storm alone.

 Eventually, he got sick. Really sick. It was Cancer. I didn’t understand that then. What I remember of the time is going to an old brick building on the campus of Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines and showing him my new Star Wars figures. I explained who each character was and if they were a good guy or a bad guy. He sat there and indulged me, smiling and making comments where he could.

 When Grandpa Keller died, my life changed. His was the first death I ever had to deal with. I was shielded from it. I did not go to the visitation or the funeral. My family was worried that it would lead to nightmares. They wanted me to remember him with the memories I had of his life..and not memories of how he appeared in death.

 He was a kind, patient and loving. He was gentle and tender. He was hard working. In short, he was everything a man should strive to be. My Grandmother always said he was the perfect father; something I am sure my Aunt Penny would agree with. As as for a great-grandfather, he was so sweet. His hugs were full of emotion and they provided the exact type of emotional security blanket that every child should have and deserve.

 It would not be until years later that I learned that Grandpa Keller was an amateur writer. In his later years, he wrote poetry and short stories. He even gave his hand to drawing and captioning cartoons. All for his pleasure and ultimately the pleasure of his family. I began writing short stories on an old 1932 Royal typewriter when I was about 8-years-old. I had no idea Grandpa Keller and I shared a love of the written word until years later. And when I did learn of that connection, it really meant something to me.

 Harry Keller was an amazing man. The only regret I have involving him is that he and I did not get to have more time together.

Trying A Little Too Hard To Be Cool

 I saw something this morning on TV that left me shaking my head and thinking to myself “Which ad exec thought this would really connect with guys?”

 It was a commercial for a nationally known weight loss system. This commercial aired on CBS during the network’s play-off football coverage. The push of the commercial was that 2010 is a new year and a new time for guys to really focus on “jump starting” their weight loss plan. The song playing in the background of the spot was “Jump Around” by the group ‘House Of Pain’. (for those of you unfamiliar, or maybe you’ve forgotten, click here for a sample of the song I am talking about).

 I sat there amazed. What? Did the folks behind this ad campaign talk this out at all? I would have loved to have heard that conversation.

 “I wonder how we can really connect with guys and get them to sign up for this weight loss plan.”

 “Sounds like a problem.”

 “Aha! I got it! We’ll use a 90’s hip hop song about life as a gangster from a one hit wonder group of Irish rappers from Boston.”

 “Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of it!?”

 This smacks to me of someone trying to be too cool for the platform. It’s weight loss through low carb foods, not intensive cardio. This is like using the song “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails to promote a marriage retreat. Simply because there are words in the title that you can connect to your project doesn’t mean the song overall will gel with what you’re trying to do.

 When I was finished watching the commercial, I didn’t think about weight loss or about making a resolution to be healthier in 2010. I thought “What was that about?” In short, I’m in the demo this spot was trying reach out to (guy in his mid-30’s who could lose a few pounds) and the message fell on deaf ears.

 I’ve got some random thoughts floating around tonight that I thought I would share:

 (1) The snow and the cold around here is absolutely miserable. Truly horrible. I have a 5 foot drift in my front yard and my street looks like a canyon from the walls of snow built up on both sides.

 (2) Again, NBC has an issue with transitions in it’s late night slot. In 1992, when Johnny Carson left “The Tonight Show”, NBC named Jay Leno the heir though Carson had been grooming David Letterman for years on “Late Night”. Dave went to CBS and it opened a slot for Conan O’Brien. Now, 17-and-a-half years later, NBC kicked Leno to prime time and gives “The Tonight Show” to Conan O’Brien but now seems prepared to restore Leno at 10:35 and either push back (or say adios to) Conan. This looks foolish, poorly planned and desperate.

 (3) If you show up to a movie late, don’t ask others to move seats so your party can cram their way into an aisle. This happened to me and Austin yesterday. Most everyone else shows up early and gets into their seats so they don’t aggravate anyone else. Sure enough, a woman and her two kids walk in during the final preview and ask us to move so they can get 3 seats all in a row. It was a move my friends and I refer to as “school in Summer”….no class.

 (4) Dear Pick-Up Owner, I know you have 4-wheel drive and sit up higher than most cars. That being said, please be advised that those advantages do not make you immune from slip sliding through snow and ice on narrow streets. I know you live to drive fast and pretend you’re one of the Duke boys from “The Dukes of Hazard”, but for the rest of us on the road who have kids, please drive a little slower and ease back on the 4-wheel courage. Thanks!

 (5) Are you watching “Doctor Who” on BBC America? I just got into it over the last 6 weeks and David Tennant does a great job as The Doctor. NOW I find out he’s leaving the show, just as I am getting interested in watching it? Lame. Bad timing. Boo. I’ll have to see if it’s available on DVD. For British Sci-Fi, it has an amazing amount of heart and a great depth to it’s writing. Good stuff.

 (6) Why is it that your best ideas happen at night when you’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. It’s a miserable proposition. You get good thoughts, then you want to expand on those ideas but you also want to fall asleep. So then you continue thinking but then you get stressed out because you could be getting rest. It’s the mental version of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

 All right. That’s it for tonight on the “BriAlNews Blog”. Make sure to also check out my KSFY.COM blog when you get a moment.

 Good night!

Why Are People So Quick To Judge And Condemn?

One of the truly annoying things you encounter in broadcast news is the immediate judgement and “wrath” of your viewers. Tonight, I had such an issue come up and it made me wonder why people simply can’t be more tolerant of other people’s ideas and beliefs.

We ran a story on our 10PM newscast tonight (which went on LATE thanks to the BCS championship game) about a Sioux Falls chiropractor who advertises that he can prevent you from catching the flu through chiropractic treatment. An interesting story and an interesting idea. One which flies in the face on conventional wisdom and some would argue common sense (Both sons got the H1N1 vaccine. I was suppose to get it but was called in to produce the day I was going to go).

No where in the story did we say “this is the gospel” or “you should be doing this”. We simply presented the story of what one chiropractor is claiming he can do to prevent you from getting the flu. Here’s a link to the story if you would like to see it for yourself.

Well we get off the air and no sooner are we all back in the newsroom preparing to go home than an e-mail comes in to our “you ask” viewer comment box. It’s someone who said something like the following; “I can believe you ran that cockamamie story about the chiropractor. I will now question every story you broadcast.”

You have got to be kidding me. We run an interesting (and I would argue compelling) story about what a local chiropractor believes his treatment can do and this guy begins reading us the riot act? I know part of me should actually be pleased because we put something on the air that got people thinking and talking and involved. But to say “I will now question every story you broadcast” simply because we presented someone’s point of view that may be a little outside the box? It is just disappointing to hear. If you think the chiropractor is nuts, so be it. But don’t begrudge us for finding an interesting, local story about an issue people have an interest in. It’s almost like hearing a viewer say “How dare you bring me something interesting tonight!’.

Isn’t part of journalism supposed to a vetting of society’s beliefs? Isn’t part of the job of a journalist to bring differing points of view to the table and essentially say to the viewer “How about this?”

To me, what makes life interesting in hearing from all different points of view. Covering stories where people would essentially be preaching to the choir….well what’s the point? “I like it!” “Well so do I!” “Great!”.

What gets attention is focusing on what makes people different and that should boil down to their ideas and beliefs. Pass judgement on those if you wish, but don’t kill the messenger for doing their job of finding an interesting message.

I was thinking about this on the way home and it really bothers me. It’s akin to the politicians who say journalists are out to get them because they are asking tough questions. No, politicians are public servants and if they want the power that democracy affords them, then they should have to answer tough questions about policy and not play the artful dodger and try to make the media an enemy….simply because the politician doesn’t want to be pinned down on a specific issue. It’s a chicken move and I lose all respect for politicians who try to play that card.

In closing, ultimately in a democracy, this guy has every right to say he will question future stories based on this one story. It is his right and he should be able to exercise it. The flip side of that is the Constitution protects a journalist’s rights to tell a story. And in a Democracy, voices have a right to be heard: even those who believe a spine alignment can prevent you from getting sick with the flu.