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How to Use Underutilized Nielsen Data to Your Advantage

Take a little time, at least once a year, to better understand who lives in your market, and how you make this work to your advantage. 

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Welcome to 2024! I hope you had some time off to recharge and focus on all that lies ahead in the new year.  Let me start my 2024 for Barrett News Media with a question: When was the last time you looked into the Nielsen E-Book? Probably been a long time, right? 

You assumed that there wasn’t much of anything in there that’s of value and of course, you’re extremely busy.  Let’s consider some important information that resides in the E-Book and gives you a better understanding of your market and how certain characteristics may affect the ratings.

Start with the “Market Info” tab in the E-Book. I’ll assume that you know the counties and, in a few cases, independent cities that make up the geography of your market. If you don’t and prefer not to admit this deficiency, the list is in the Nielsen E-book along with a convenient map. 

How many people live in those counties? That data (6+ for PPM and 12+ for diary markets) is right there for you to see. It’s updated annually in October for PPM markets and for the Fall survey for diary markets. Of course, the figures are estimates and while demographers are pretty good at their jobs, the further away we get from the decennial census, the more the numbers veer from reality. 

Nonetheless, you don’t have a choice so review these and understand the size of each county relative to the others in your metro.  Nielsen has conveniently done the arithmetic for you.

As an aside, you’ll hear the words “population estimate” and “universe estimate” used. While I once heard someone explain the difference between the two terms, you and I are not demographers so it’s OK to use the two terms as synonyms.

Next, you should know how your market shakes out by demographic group. The estimates are all there for you to review by each weighting cell. If your market is weighted for Black or Hispanic, you’ll see population estimates there are well, but even if not, there is another place in the E-Book to find that data as you’ll see in shortly.

Does your market have HDBAs (High Density Black Area) or HDHAs (High Density Hispanic Areas)? That information is also in this section and I’ll explain those in a future column.

If you’re in a PPM market, there are two other bits of information you should review: employment and presence of children. These are weighting variables for the PPM service but not for diary. The latter is the most important because Nielsen rarely gets close to the stated percentage of households with or without children, with “children” being defined as under 18, meaning some odd weights can result.

We’ll talk about how the samples shake out in another column as well, but for now, click on the “Metro Market Profile” tab. Start with the Household Data and you’ll find all sorts of information about your market. Household income, value of homes, rents, average commute time, it’s all there. 

Now check the “Group Quarters Estimates”. Do you have a lot of colleges and universities in your market? How about a large military installation? Maybe a prison or two? Any or all of these can have a major effect on Nielsen’s ability to measure younger demos, for example, 18-24. 

There are small markets where nearly half of the 18-24 population lives in what can be referred to as “institutional housing”. Nielsen Audio does not measure dorms, barracks, or jails, but does include the people that reside there in their population estimates. 

Long ago at Arbitron, we looked at ways to measure dorms, but it wasn’t feasible at the time.  If a dorm resident or a soldier in a barracks listens to you, you won’t get credit, but the bigger issue is when Nielsen can’t reach 30, 40, or even half of a demo, those that are in the sample have disproportionately high weights for the age/sex cell. If their listening looks fairly “normal”, that’s fine.  If you get some unusual respondents, well, you can guess what happens.

Next, review the “ethnic population estimates”. You’ll see population estimates for Black and Hispanic in the market by specific age cells, regardless of whether Nielsen weights for that dimension. With just a few exceptions, the Hispanic population skews young. In other words, if your market is 15 percent Hispanic, it may well be 20-25 percent Hispanic or even higher in 18-24 and 25-34. 

The Metro Market Profile tab has other useful information about your market and about radio listening. You’ll find TSL and cume data in an easy-to-understand bar chart. Take a look and learn some more about what’s happening without having to use Excel or that old calculator that’s hiding somewhere in your desk (full disclosure: my K-Mart calculator just hit 40 years old in September and still works perfectly). 

Take a little time, at least once a year, to better understand who lives in your market, and how you make this work to your advantage. Mark your calendar to look at the annual population changes in your market.

Let’s meet again next week.

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77 WABC and Newsmax Host Greg Kelly Tackles AI, Trust in Media, and Advice for the Next Generation

“I do think it’s important to experience life before you start kind of evaluating things. I think it’s very important to learn a skill.”

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A photo of Greg Kelly
(Photo: Greg Kelly)

Greg Kelly — who hosts shows on both 77 WABC in New York and nationally on conservative cable news outlet Newsmax — is one of the hardest-working men in the industry.

“I am working approximately 11 hours a day, developing content for, two programs that I host,” Kelly told Barrett News Media over a Zoom call.

His shows have no scripts, and provide incredibly unique, very engaging content for his listeners.

Before joining the media Greg Kelly, like his famous father Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, served in the Marine Corps. The younger Kelly retired from the Marines with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before gracing America’s TV stations.

With over 20 years experience, he has covered some of the most important national events of our time. Even being injured while covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Artificial Intelligence

While some on the left find him controversial, many right-leaning voters seek his wisdom — including on Artificial Intelligence being used in the media.

“I have experimented with all of the chatbots, especially, ChatGPT, and honestly for all the hype, I recognize that there are aspects to AI that are not necessarily accessible to the consumer or the user.”

Kelly added, “There are things going on with supercomputers and whatnot. But, I had not been impressed, quite frankly, with the output of, artificial intelligence. You can usually spot it right away. The questions that I’ve asked it, have not yielded usable results. To me, it’s like a crude Wikipedia. It just doesn’t, and it’s not as useful as even Wikipedia or your basic data you can find on the internet.”

When asked about concerns on how Artificial Intelligence is going to affect the election this year, Kelly said, “Well, I’ve seen these things myself, and you can kind of spot them right away. And I think the American voter and the American media consumer has achieved a certain level of sophistication. So, no, I’m not particularly concerned.”

Greg Kelly went on to give an example.

“The other day I saw something — Alvin Bragg announcing his resignation — and I knew in about a second and a half that it was fake. So these things are out there. It’s like a political cartoon. I would almost liken it to the political cartoons of yesteryear.”

He continued to say, “People can have a pretty good ability to figure out what’s true and what’s not in terms of what you’re talking about. The deep, the I guess they follow of deepfakes or whatever. Those things I think are detectable.”

Trust in Media

To be better media consumers Kelly believes viewers and listeners should do their own research before blindly following talking heads.

“Why rely on the media to give you a summary of things that you can access yourself? You know, for instance, these indictments of Donald Trump have been floating around,” he said. “I’ve yet to meet anybody who’s read one. I’ve yet to meet anyone, including folks in the media who actually sat down and read those 92 pages of Justice Engoron, [which were] released last Friday.”

He added, “You can, as a citizen, as a person, access this material there’s no need for, I mean, theoretically, for you to rely on anyone else to tell you about it. Most likely the person telling you about it hasn’t actually read it. They’re relying on yet somebody else’s summary.”

Greg Kelly went on to say, “Why do we need people who we know will distorting and almost I’m not saying that’s necessarily malicious, although often it is. But why go through that step? Why do we need people on the news at night to tell us things that we can access ourselves?”

He also recognized the limitations of working people saying, “Now, I understand, you know, the daily ritual that people are working in, that kind of thing. But, you know, people do consume a lot of content on their phones and elsewhere. I have been urging people to, you know, if you want to be as smart or smarter than somebody from The New York Times, read the primary source documents, which are often accessible to all of us.”

Advice to the Next Generation

His advice for young aspiring media personalities begins with a question.

“I would ask them first ‘Why?’ What is it you want to do?” Kelly later added, “I do think it’s important to experience life before you start kind of evaluating things. I think it’s very important to learn a skill.”

Once one has the answer to that question, Kelly’s advice is both lengthy and wise.

“Number one: Read a lot of nonfiction. Everybody reads tweets. Everybody is surfing the internet. Very few people read books. That’s important. And no matter really what it is, personally, if you are interested in current events, politics, I do recommend nonfiction bestsellers. It is absolutely incredible what people are not reading.”

Greg Kelly continued by saying, “I would suggest, if you’re genuinely curious about what’s happening in the world — and that’s kind of where my impetus to do this kind of stuff is based on curiosity. And that’s kind of a rare thing I’ve come to discover. I thought more people were curious. I thought everybody had a level of curiosity. I’m shocked at how incurious people are. But I would say, yeah, read a lot of nonfiction.”

Second, Kelly advises, “I would say, try thinking about acquiring a skill. A true skill that is marketable, that you can make money from. Whether it’s becoming a pilot, whether it’s becoming an engineer, and then possibly embarking in media. We don’t know what it’s going to look like in a couple of years, right? Seems to be changing rather fast.

“I also tell people, no matter how old they are, if they’re asking me for advice, to do what I did about ten years ago, which was start reading the Bible. I took it for granted and I didn’t think too deeply about faith. In my earlier years, I was an atheist for a while. But about ten years ago, I started reading the Bible a bit more seriously.”

He succinctly wrapped up his advice by stating, “Start reading. Think about getting a skill and faith is important. I encourage them to take the journey if they wish.”

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Deciphering What CBS Got Right and Wrong in the Catherine Herridge Saga

The actual details and timeline are quite murky.

Bill Zito

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There’s been significant media reporting and analysis concerning the very recent terminations of CBS employees, some quite familiar and one highlighted above them all because of her notoriety, her work and accusations that her exit was different from others in her situation.

Catherine Herridge is known for her political coverage past and present and more than anything, I think she has now become the poster child for what’s perceived as a controversial dismissal and alleged questionable termination practices.

If you read the reporting, Ms. Herridge, along with about 800 others recently were let go from Paramount and CBS in cost-cutting actions. Among stories out there are several stating that Herridge’s notes, files, and confidential information were “seized” by CBS management after she was let go.

This is certainly worth delving into if it’s true, or at least true in the way it has been depicted in the media so far.

I keep reading and hearing that reporter files and content are not retained by stations, networks, and parent companies following separations and that somehow this is a strange and unusual occurrence.

Somehow, people are inferring, it must have been done for reasons directly related to Herridge and her coverage of Hunter Biden, President Biden and the White House.

Okay, I guess.

Let’s be clear here, I will never claim to know anything, much less everything, and my experience and exposure to such matters is severely limited at best. But, I have worked more than a few jobs, at more than a few places, many of them in news, and among a slew of commonalities I have come face to face with are onboarding paperwork and company handbooks that pretty much lay out the groundwork that content generated, utilized or gathered under the company employ is in whole or part, theirs.

Meaning, a lot of the time, the company says it belongs to them, or at least both parties.

I’m not an attorney but I have seen writings like this before and, to be fair, I usually would skip down to the parts about non-compete clauses and how many vacation days I might get.

It sort of makes at least some sense to me.

You’re sitting at our desk, using our resources while gathering stories for our company to make use of as we see fit.

Yes, it’s ours but you probably, and hopefully, have copies of everything yourself and if you don’t, I for one, think you’re pretty silly.

The content a journalist or investigative reporter generates while working for an employer is not necessarily their sole property as many of us out there understand it. They create it at the behest and under the direction of a parent company, a station, or a network so I’m thinking it’s not just theirs.

In the case of Ms. Herridge, there are conflicting versions of what actually transpired in all this. And nearly all of it is attributed to sources and opinion columns like that of Jonathan Turley, who is older, far more experienced, and certainly better educated than I.

Turley wrote in part,” A former CBS manager, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had “never heard of anything like this.” He attested to the fact that, in past departures, journalists took all of their files and office contents. Indeed, the company would box up everything from cups to post-its for departing reporters. He said the holding of the material was “outrageous” and clearly endangered confidential sources.”

Okay, that’s one school of thought for sure. Apparently, the SAG-AFTRA union agrees, calling it, according to Turley, “very unusual” and “a matter of serious concern”.

I’ll buy that, if that’s how things happened. But in all my reading on the subject, the actual details and timeline are quite murky. Were there discussions or negotiations during any potential out-processing or exit interviews?

Everyone referenced except those identified as uninvolved business analysts is unnamed, unidentified, or a confidential source.

CBS denied seizing material yet it also says the files and materials have been returned. So, which Is it?

Herridge, as far as I have read, has said nothing but, nonetheless, the House Judiciary Committee has reportedly asked questions about her termination and the claims of personal files and notes being seized.

So, accurate or not, it looks like more than just a few people are rattled by all this.

As a cop, I knew a lot of detectives and patrol officers who had snitches and informants and it was not always like all these identities and information were passed up the chain of command.

“If you want to keep a secret, don’t tell the boss.”

-Jimmy Malone, The Untouchables.

Do journalists share every source, note, and contact with their bosses? My guess is no, but is it unreasonable for an employer to have access to content, background, and related materials so when someone else picks up the next chapter of the story they are not starting from a blank page?

Would it be right if Herridge left of her own accord and said, “Sorry, I’m taking everything I’ve done while you’ve been paying me and supporting my efforts with me and you’ll have to reinvestigate and pursue your own sources and contacts?”

Does that seem reasonable or even likely?

Hopefully, there is a bit more mutual respect between journalists and employers than has been implied by the stories published since Herridge and many others were separated from Paramount and CBS. Equally, I would trust that nobody at CBS is unaware that anything left behind in the form of content, product and notes has not already been copied and is safely in the possession of those who were shown the door.

Let’s be real here, please.

I still have my old desk blotter from when I was a producer in Seattle in 1999. Prior to the common use of all the electronic information storage choices, I would write names and numbers on my desk calendar, and when I ran out of months, I wrote it on the cardboard underneath. I took that cardboard with me to my next job and the job after that and the job after that. I’m pretty sure if I unearthed it today there would be at least one name and number that would still be useful, but it’s really not holding any particular information that the station didn’t have also.

However, If the nice people at KIRO asked if I had so and so’s name or number from 25 years ago, I would unpack a box and gladly offer it up.

Again, if you’re not making a copy of everything you do for your own reference and future use then I don’t know what to tell you.

This is news and in this and many other businesses, you can be out the door at any given moment so I’m pretty confident Ms. Herridge has everything she came to CBS with and much more. And I find nothing wrong with that.

If you or others want to read into some sort of political motives and conspiracy because of Herridge’s reporting and her story coverage, well, that’s up to you. Have fun with that.

What am I missing here?

When a reporter, investigative or not, does work for a station or network or any outlet really, pretty much anything they’re doing is retained and archived. Coverage of countless stories as they unfold, can continue for weeks, months, and years.

Did Carl Bernstein take everything with him when he left The Washington Post?

The Post still had to cover countless aspects of Watergate and the Nixon administration and everything that followed long after he departed and I imagine Woodward couldn’t fill in all the holes just because he stuck around.

I see this all as either very simple or extremely complicated depending perhaps on what the actual big deal is here.

Is it because this is about Catherine Herridge and people are angry that she was given a pink slip? Is anyone upset about the other people also losing their jobs?

I am really asking the questions here.

Am I way off base in my thinking?

Is what I am putting forth here incorrect, erroneous and without factual basis?

If I am on the wrong side of the truth here, I will accept it and stand wide open in admitting it. I also welcome the reeducation I must sorely require.

Or, could it be that this is simply about money?

Show me the inner workings of the financial wizards who pay an exceedingly small number of individuals inflated wages while eliminating the lowest-paid support staff in the interest of fat-trimming and cost-cutting but who will, every once in a while, publicly toss a few well-compensated “sacrificial lambs” into the fire to try and make themselves look and feel better.

Or if, as the conspiracy theorists have already begun to claim, Herridge is being silenced for her work and revelations, firing her is not exactly the best way to accomplish that. She is well-known, respected, and incredibly good at her job. As we will no doubt see very soon, she will land someplace else, perhaps before my prattling here even makes it online.

I’m sure NewsNation has another hour of availability in their lineup.

By the way, I certainly hope that Mr. Pegues, Ms. Ruffini, and Ms. Falk land on their feet along with all of the reported 800 others that were let go in what has been described in job action terms as a “bloodbath”.

In regard to Mr. Turley’s outrage at the actions taken by CBS, I will point out that on my and most anyone’s best day, none would likely be professionally capable of carrying his briefcase or laptop. My opinion and perspective are offered here, of course, and remain my own.

With that in mind I will also state simply and humbly to Mr. Turley that merely quoting Murrow and Cronkite in your opinion piece does not validate your point to a higher degree, no matter how renowned and accomplished you, yourself may be.

But in the interest of fairness and curiosity, I will give it a shot:

“We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks-that’s show business.”
– Edward R. Murrow

“And that’s the way it is.”

-Walter Cronkite

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Can the Media Predict America’s Looming Challenge?

Based on data and polls, are that President Donald Trump could begin his 2nd term in about eleven months, and similar to his first time in office, many think he’ll have his work cut out for him.

Rick Schultz

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While many experts are predicting brighter economic days ahead, some media pundits are warning that it might take longer than expected to get the good times rolling again.

A former World Bank President took to the airwaves recently to share his opinion about what faces the U.S. economy in the future, and what can be done to reverse the current period of instability and hardship. 

Based on data and polls, are that former President Donald Trump could begin his 2nd term in about eleven months, and similar to his first time in office, many think he’ll have his work cut out for him.

“Growth in the U.S. held up last year, up more than three percent annually in the fourth quarter, despite inflation, high rates, global tensions,” Barron’s Roundtable host, Jack Hough, began on Friday. “But my next guest says this news is not as good as it sounds on the surface.”

“The storm is, growth simply not fast enough to raise peoples’ living standards or to pay back the debt,” David Malpass began on the Fox Business program. “You’ve got the energy problems that are mounting in the world. Germany today, I don’t know if you saw, but lowered their forecast for 2024 to only .2 percent. So basically, a really severe slowdown or recession going on in Europe.”

U.S. national debt has now surpassed a record $34 trillion, and the Federal Reserve is predicting American GDP will only grow at an anemic 1.4 percent this year. Even more soberingly, they expect only 1.8 percent growth next year. That’s a far cry from the 2.5 percent annual growth spurred by Mr. Trump during his first three years in office.

“Africa and Latin America are in deep trouble and it all stems back to the U.S. holding up it’s growth by simply borrowing money from everybody else to dump it into the economy,” Malpass added.

“What should the next president do first, bearing in mind that it could take some cooperation from Congress?” Hough asked.

“It could, but the Commander in Chief has huge power to state the outlook for the U.S., but also for the world. The world waits with bated breath to hear what the U.S. is going to do in terms of economic policy, in terms of foreign policy and energy policy,” Malpass, the former Treasury Undersecretary added, noting that the policies of the current administration are not helping matters. “The latest is cutting off the LNG exports. That’s driven the natural gas prices down in the U.S. It’s gone down by 50 percent just since January.”

While that might sound great to homeowners and consumers on the surface, Malpass says it has created more harm than good.

“What that means is lots of jobs lost in the U.S., but for the rest of the world what it means is a shortage of energy. And that’s really important to their GDP,” he said. “So the new President has to say, we’re going to create an environment in the world where the U.S. can grow fast. That’s a top priority. And that’s going to allow us to project security for the world. And that will comfort everyone and allow them to begin investing again.”

Hough pointed out that last year, 2023, ended up being much better economically than most analysts predicted prior to the year. 

“The U.S. spent a lot more than was expected,” Malpass explained. “ And also, I think, the model has changed for the interest rate hikes. You know in the past when the Fed raised interest rates, that meant that people felt the bite. But this time the government is borrowing so much itself that as the rates go up, they’re paying all the upper-income people around the U.S., and even outside the U.S., top dollar for all of this borrowed money.

“So as the interest rates went up, it caused a huge spewing of money into the economy. Plus the direct government spending. So I think the projections didn’t work out for the U.S., but if we look outside the U.S. the slowdown was intense. Just as bad as expected.”

Hough highlighted a recent piece Malpass wrote in The Wall Street Journal, in which he illustrated a model that worked in such a difficult historical economic situation – Ronald Reagan’s combination of pro-growth policies and peace through strength. And while not mentioning Trump by name during the entirety of the interview, it was clear that Malpass believes such an approach will certainly be needed by our next president.

“We hear some growing calls in the U.S. for a more isolationist stance. Do you see any kind of a risk there?” Hough asked. 

“I think isolationism is not the answer. It is peace through strength. And Reagan did that through having a strong economy and then by having a strong defense policy that showed the Soviet Union that communism was not going to be given this free ride,” Malpass said, echoing the policies that succeeded under Trump’s first term. Most experts, however, think it unlikely that today’s Democratic party would do such an about-face against socialism and communism around the world. Especially as the party pushes such policies at home.

“That, of course, brought down communism. It fell of its own weight,” Malpass said. “And that was a giant relief for the world. We ended up with a peace dividend and so it was a good investment to have the U.S. be strong, because that then stabilized the world. We can do that again. Markets are forward-looking. And so if they see the U.S. talking about defending the dollar, controlling the government spending so that there’s some money left over for the rest of the people in the U.S. and around the world.”

Malpass told Hough that the results of such an approach would be tangible for working American families.

“That will allow interest rates to come down, which would be positive. And it means that there can be more growth,” Malpass said. “Right now, we’re looking at this prospect of some years of really stagnant growth.”

In other words, even though he did it once, Mr. Trump’s second go-around might be even more challenging than the first.

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