But Who’s Counting?

typewriterclassic2My congratulations to the Lower Great Lakes chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for last night’s Emmy™ event. It was the fastest paced, most enjoyable of the seven I’ve attended. The Intercontinental Hotel, in the center of Cleveland Clinic’s new city of 35,000 on the east side of town, is a helluva classy joint. No vain attempts at humor during the awards – the little moments that passed for funny were unplanned – and no wasted time. Almost like TV professionals were putting on a live show.

Which they were.

(Full disclosure: my partner in Storytellers, Gary Manke, is president of the LGL chapter – this post in no way represents his feelings. I think.)

Many fewer congratulations to Julie Washington. In her Plain Dealer report on the event she emphasized the nostalgic nature of the chapter’s 40th anniversary. But, typical of the PeeDee, they missed the actual lede: smaller market Indianapolis arrived here yesterday to crush, in merciless fashion, the larger market Cleveland stations in virtually every category.

Not sure if ‘creamed’ or ‘slaughtered’ are better words, so I’ll stick with ‘crushed.’ Either way it wasn’t pretty.

And, as is also typical of Cleveland’s paper of record, the story focused on only the commercial and public stations. Our own ensemble – Storytellers Media Group – garnered two Emmys: one for best Arts/Entertainment Program (Doris O’Donnell’s Cleveland – Rosie the Reporter), and another for Music Composition by the inimitable Carl Michel (which the presenters pronounced as “Mitchell.” Feh.) But this rather exemplary performance by a small company like Storytellers is deemed unworthy of mention. Of  the large media outlets logrolled in the article, WOIO earned no more than we did, while Fox Sports Ohio and our ol’ alma mater station, WVIZ, earned only half (and that one by my former cutter and all ’round buddy, Nancy Tatulinski). WKYC, a Cleveland flagship station if there ever was one, earned a mere four awards to our two. The article failed to mention the truckloads of awards schlepped home to Indy and other points west

But who’s counting?

So – it’s not like Storytellers eked by with an award for Best Story on Hamster Adoption or something; it was an award for best Arts/Entertainment Program across the entire three-state chapter. Perhaps Julie is unimpressed with people who don’t own TV transmitters.

More to the point: does it appear that a struggling MSM print entity is lookin’ out for struggling MSM broadcast entities? To me, yeah. It does local media no good, the argument could go, to remind us all in a stodgily mediocre newspaper what a thoroughly mediocre job C-Town stations largely are doing, if Emmy™ awards are any standard at all.  The out of state stations earned everything they got. Mere mention of these facts might stand as anathema to mediocrity, and we couldn’t tolerate that.

Are we hurt and pouty that Storytellers is ignored? Not this year. We’ve grown accustomed to it – Ms. Washington did precisely the same thing last year, when the exact, same series won in the exact, same category.


6 thoughts on “But Who’s Counting?

  1. I’ve worked with and know Gary for over 30 years now, and I also produced and directed the Emmy Awards this year. Thank you for the good words about the show. And congratulations to Storytellers as well.

    Regarding your review of Julie Washington and the Emmy Awards received by other stations, Julie makes clear in her article that she is writting about local Cleveland stations, not out of town stations or local producers. Hence the “Cleveland” in the name of the newspaper.

    But I hope that you share your comments with Julie Washington as well.

    Frankly most people still reveive their news and information from broadcast stations, and that is her “beat” so that’s the focus of her article. I’m happy for your wins, but she also doesn’t mention the win by the University of Akron or other local independent producers.

    She did steer readers to the chapter website for the complete list of winners.

    In regards to the Indiana “slaughter” of Cleveland stations, the reason is simple, Cleveland stations do not enter as much work as they have in years past. I know I don’t have to mention the impact of the economy of the television industry on all of us, but stations are not paying for entries as they have before. So if an individual wants to enter the awards, they must pay their own way. This includes tickets to the event as well.

    WTHR, which received the most Emmys, also had the most nominations, but also had entered the most work. So it makes sense that they might recieve the lion-share of awards. Also, we are a regional chapter, so not everything is or should be Cleveland-centric. Just because every award doesn’t go to a Cleveland station is nothing to get upset about.

    WTHR not only fully supports the Emmy Awards, but also has the resources to spend some extra time and money on individual stories as well as increasing the production value.

    This is the exception, especially in this ever changing industry. Frankly no one locally has the time and money to produce quality television as they have in the past. Most staions do news, and when you are fighting the clock, your goal is to get it on the air. But WTHR has the extra staff and also does more long-form stories.

    So if you take into consideration reduced entries from Cleveland and other markets in the region, and the “extras” that WTHR and other stations can put into their product, it’s no wonder that they continue to receive Emmy Awards and are recognized for their work.

    So I would disagree that it was a slaughter, but rather something you could predict when looking over the list of nominations. Hopefully if others feel the same way, more people from Cleveland will enter and we’ll see Cleveland represented in greater numbers next year.

    1. Easy for you to say, Steve – at least you got mentioned. 😉 This is probably all because I actually had people e-mailing me this week to say, in essence “I saw the Emmy article in the paper – sorry to see you didn’t win.” Meh. One more e-mail like those, I’m going to effin’ scream.

      Seriously – thanks for taking the time to reply, I appreciate your voice. I’ll respectfully differ on a few things, and agree on most.

  2. One thing I thought of after I wrote to you, this might be a great opportunity to correct Julie and market Storytellers. I might suggest that one reason she didn’t mention your two wins is that she may not realize that your company exists or that you are a local company in the Cleveland area. I’m sure she know all the call letters of the stations, but she may not know anything about Storytellers. I know you guys do great work, hence the two Emmy wins, so I would write to her and arrange a meeting to tell your story or send here copies of some of your programs. This way next year, when you win again, she’ll be completely aware of your success, locally. And include your wins with the other local entrants. And respectful debate is always welcome!!!!

    1. Thanks, Steve, good ideas all – but I would not offer Julie such a tough critique had I not done all you suggest over the years, including meeting personally over coffee. We just have not drawn her interest, despite the efforts. And if her beat is just the local Cleveland over-air stations, which presumably excludes the broadcast work we do with Western Reserve PBS, then I’m not certain that pressing our case any further would be at all productive. Better, I’ve concluded at long last, to do that where what I do is part of someone’s beat, not outside it. But I’m grateful for your positive, proactive suggestions.

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