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TV Notes: KDKA's Jacque Smith heads off to Cleveland

Saturday, November 18, 2000

KDKA-TV weekend anchor/reporter Jacque Smith will leave the station Dec. 1. She'll become weekend anchor/reporter at WJW, the Fox-owned and -operated television station in Cleveland. She's a native of Columbus.

Smith joined KDKA in 1995 and her contract was up last month. She agreed to stay with the station through the November ratings period. She said she'll miss her co-workers most.

"They're a great bunch of people, they're extremely professional despite all the challenges they have to face," Smith said. "You sort of have to be initiated here, but once you're in, you're in. It's been like a family."

KDKA news director Joe Coscia said he has not yet selected Smith's replacement and probably won't until early next year.

One possible candidate to keep an eye on: Jessica Borg, who joined KDKA as a general assignment reporter earlier this year.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

FRICK ON TV: Home & Garden Television (HGTV) will take viewers on a tour of six historic mansions at 9 p.m. tomorrow, including the Pittsburgh home of Henry Clay Frick. (R.O.)

CABLE ADDITION: Adelphia Cable systems in Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and Peters have added Fox News Channel to their lineups at Channel 77. FNC will soon join the lineup on Adelphia's West Mifflin system. (R.O.)

OF LOCAL NOTE: Dormont native Dana Accetta traded jobs with talk show host Queen Latifah in a job-swap contest. Accetta, a zookeeper at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, S.C., will appear as Latifah's co-host on Dec. 4. Viewers can see Queen Latifah trying Accetta's job after midnight Tuesday at 1:30 a.m. on WNPA. (R.O.)

"GILMORE" PICKUP: The WB has picked up freshman series "Gilmore Girls" (8 p.m. Thursday on WCWB) for an additional six episodes.

The acclaimed series was developed as part of an initiative by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of major advertisers who encourage the creation of more TV shows appropriate for a family audience by paying in part for script development.

This week, the group announced ABC and CBS will join The WB in creating scripts that have the potential to become network series. The Programming Forum is not involved in script approval, which is left to the networks. (R.O.)

PRESSURE FROM ADVERTISERS: Local television stations, it seems, are coming under growing pressure from advertisers.

In fact, a third of news directors surveyed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism say they've been pressured to kill negative stories -- or do positive ones -- about sponsors. The findings, from 25 news directors, are reported in Columbia Journalism Review.

The project's broader findings are pessimistic. The amount of enterprise reporting is "withering to almost nothing." Political coverage demonstrated "almost no imagination (or) initiative." Nearly a quarter of all reports consist of out-of-town feeds. Investigative pieces are just 0.9 percent of all stories. And the poor have all but disappeared (they figured in just seven of 8,095 stories examined this year, compared with 336 about entertainers.)

Overall, says the project, quality sells -- but just 10 percent of stations have earned grades of A during the study's three years (in its first year Pittsburgh stations received dismal grades). Among the quality stations, 60 percent were going up in ratings and 20 percent holding their own. Among the lousiest stations, 60 percent also had rising ratings -- apparently, more than just journalistic quality is involved -- but 40 percent are clearly failing. (Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post)

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