Death and the Newsroom

John Cleveland didn’t die at the assignment desk in the KRQE newsroom although I feared he might given the health issues he mentioned from time to time. Instead we are told he died in his sleep, a peaceful end for a larger-than-life character who boosted the game and noise level of an already frantic place. He wasn’t much past 50 and leaves behind a wife and young son.

John Cleveland. Photo by Rebecca Valdez.

John Cleveland. Photo by Rebecca Valdez.

For those of you who don’t know TV newsrooms, the assignment desk occupies the high ground at the center of the maelstrom. It’s where police scanner chatter merges into ringing phones while competing with a two-way radio base and shouts from all directions. The manager assigns photographers to reporters and live trucks to photographers, dispatches the helicopter, updates all on fresh developments and constantly calls contacts for information and confirmation. Continue reading

The Great Taos Pot Raid

Somewhere New Mexico native Smokey Bear is hiding in a den and wishing he worked for the friendly folks at the National Park Service rather than the U.S. Forest Service.

On a Saturday not quite three weeks ago four USFS law officers rolled into the Taos Ski Valley with their drug-sniffing dog disrupting the skiing, boarding and Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The show of force ended with a few piddly violation notices for possession of marijuana, one for prescription drugs and another for an equipment violation later called a cracked windshield.

Employee and visitor complaints about the officers ranged from lack of respect to rude and out of line. One parent said he was accosted with his 11-year-old daughter, and others alleged the dog that got in the face of young children had to be muzzled after it bit one of the USFS officers.

Here you have the perfect storm of a public-relations nightmare with USFS backpedaling and covering its como se llama. Continue reading