WGN Around Town’s Ana Belaval

CJ_AnaIn the spirit of this morning, I cooked a tasty omelette and then headed downtown to Marcel’s Culinary Experience where WGN Morning News’ “Around Town” was shooting seven live segments with reporter Ana Belaval. I had the opportunity to meet Ana, her producer, and camera person. The team does live segments everyday plus Facebook video posts.

Ana came to WGN from Univision where she started as an assignment reporter for the Chicago affiliate and climbed the ladder to become a network correspondent and substitute anchor in New York. Her long-term goal was to work in the general market, which happened when WGN picked her up—one of the few Spanish reporters to cross over to the English broadcast market.

Ana_Shoot

Watching her mad skills was an absolute joy. Not only did she capture everyone’s attention in the room, but she came across naturally and approachable. Watching a couple of the live segments allowed me to see why she was able to win three Emmy Awards. But reporting wasn’t her only ability.

She bantered with the producer several times and constantly salted in off-the-cuff jokes from her quick wit. It was clear that the producer loved working with her and that the team had a true entertainer in their midst for those slow moments waiting for the clock to signal the next live segment. I couldn’t help but notice that Ana’s ability to keep her team fresh guaranteed high production values.

Ana’s humor flowed naturally in the moment with great precision, as if she had stand up comedy experience, which I later learned she does. Several years back, she was asked to participate in a celebrity stand up comedy event and received more laughter and applause than she expected. Inspired by the audience that night, Ana started writing jokes and testing them out in comedy clubs and during television appearances.

ana_coffee.pngHosting WTTW-TV’s “The Chicago Stand Up Project” was a great side gig for Ana to perform her routines, while introducing the latest comedians joining her on stage. She also spent time on local shows for the Latino community, giving back to her Puerto Rican heritage. Blogging was even a part of her life for a time, having developed the popular “Ay Mama” blog that eventually ended due to time demands required by her and her writers’ families and professional schedules.

I have no doubt that Ana’s natural talents will continue to shine for years to come and are likely to show up in additional venues. She can be followed on Facebook at http://facebook.com/wgnanabelaval/ and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/anabelaval or @anabelaval.

Copyright © 2018 by CJ Powers

Analyzing Donald Trump and His Muslim Ban

TrumpDonald Trump is one of the best personalities for generating millions in free publicity based on his “off-handed” remarks. His latest remarks about banning Muslims from entering our country until we figure things out were a part of a well-planned announcement. The campaign generated huge visibility worldwide for Trump and high ratings for the radio and television networks.

It was also a big enough event for those entering the publicity queue to take advantage of riding Trumps coat tails. It generated thousands of interviews across the nation for every level of “expert” that local stations could find.

Analyzing the announcement and the world’s reaction can be revealing.

The first point of analysis surrounds the fact that Trump’s remarks were thought out, written, and accomplished his goal of grabbing the attention of the media. Trump typically appears to say things off of the top of his head, but with this announcement he sent out a press release with his exact wording and read it from the sheet of paper in the video I watched.

Here is the exact quote:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

The “newsworthy” reactions from people like Mohammed Ali and others coming out of the woodwork were expected. All publicists know that reaction based news stories fuel the extended duration of free publicity, allowing the frequency of Trump’s name to be used well beyond what normal publicity could afford.

Keep in mind that none of the responses have anything to do with what Trump specifically meant, but what could be molded to fit their agenda for publicity. This pattern allows the original speaker to refute the comments or clarify his own, while allowing the responders to promote their agenda. It’s a media game that was started in the 50s and further exploited by bloggers to their sub-markets.

Trump’s campaign requires a media spend of $100MM to gain the predetermined number of votes needed for election. However, estimates show his free publicity stunts generate $20-30MM in media reach and frequency for his campaign. Last summer’s free controversial media campaigns were so significant that Trump was able to cancel $15MM in television commercials set to air.

Trump is the first person to effectively use the media for a highly visible and free campaign (although Obama’s campaign got some free publicity based on his use of social media).

Trump’s style of brusk and controversial remarks has driven much of the news since his announcement to run for office. Meanwhile, those candidates who are more diplomatic in their approach of “temporarily closing borders to all immigrants” until representatives can figure out what’s going on get little news coverage. But those opposing the controversial Trump by suggesting that America will always keep its borders open are getting plenty of airtime.

Free publicity requires a lot of showmanship and little knowledge of political science. Obama’s contrasting “change” campaign did the very same thing. Neither campaign revealing how the candidate would actually run the government once in office. Instead, we were entertained with showmanship.

The publicity is also filled with noise of ignorant people trying to make a name for themselves. The anger driven comments about Trump being a racist fit that foolish category. The reason is because Muslim is a religion, not a race. However, many are now trying to say that he has a racist attitude toward a religion, but the attempt of this positioning insults those who have endured a lifetime of real racism.

The bottom line is that Trump knows how to use his First Amendment rights to gain attention in the polls. And, those who try to ban him, like he wants to ban the Muslims, forget that they are opposing our First Amendment – The very Amendment that allows us freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

But there’s more to consider in a good analysis. We also need to reflect on what’s not being said. Hillary Clinton is purposely staying out of the arguments and playing it safe. Many know she is slipping in the poles and Bernie Sanders is gaining momentum. The key is to keep low until Trump falls, shifting the voting population from a “guaranteed” Republican ticket back to the Democratic ticket.

If Clinton jumps into the mix too soon and becomes one of Trump’s knee jerk reactionaries, she could drop further in the polls. If she waits too long, then Bernie Sanders can gain even more in the polls and pull her “undecided” voters.

Don’t forget that if its in the media, it’s all about entertainment value and ratings. Unfortunately, there is no other national forum available to learn what candidates would really do in office. The “running for office” system is broken and fixing it would hurt the media, as everything is about viewership.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers