Friday, October 5, 2007

Story of the Week -- Oct. 1-5

The Foxhole

The view from my perch above the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange was altered under cover of night last week. 2 weeks before the self-proclaimed "most powerful name in news" alters the television landscape, they made some improvements (ahem) to the trading floor.

What appeared below, within sure-shot sniper range, is what we are calling "The Foxhole" - a 6 by 4 box squeezed in between a couple of trading posts, an omen that says quite clearly -- Rupert is here.

A few months ago, Rupert Murdoch completed a hostile takeover of Dow Jones. He spent $5 billion on the company, but what he really wanted was the company's crown jewel - The Wall Street Journal. And he got it. And just in time for the launch of the Fox Business Channel. Coincidence? Hardly.

Fox Biz isn't in competition with our business news coverage at all. We're a guppy. They want the Blue Whale -- CNBC. The people I've talked to at CNBC don't seem threatened, but the appearance of the Foxhole can't be comforting.

But it can be mocked. How cute, they're on the floor, in a studio the size of a small bedroom closet. They can look right up into our booth, which is twice the size. Or they can look up at CNBC's studio that practically says "we're the best, don't mess with us." That's adorable, Fox Biz. Now good luck.

Actually, Rupert scares the hell out of me. The Foxhole feels like the first tentacle of the NewsCorp monster, coming in to suck up another sphere of influence and foxify it. The Foxhole can only be the beginning.

BUT...while the monster moved in on Wall Street, it was relinquishing some of its influence in a far more important domain (for me, anyway) - baseball. How nice, for this first round of the playoffs, to have no Jeannie Zelasko, no Kevin Kennedy, no miked bases, stupid graphics, even stupider noises, overdramatized, overdone crowd shots, or uncomfortable up-the-nose pitcher closeups. TBS has taken the baseball playoffs, and simplified. And for a real baseball fan, it's awesome. (also helps that the Phillies are in an 0-2 hole and the Yankees got clobbered) I enjoy watching, instead of endure watching.

Now that I see again what baseball coverage can be, I'm dreading the ALCS and World Series, to be aired by the evil empire. I don't look forward to the shameless network tie-ins, overproduced player promos, wayyyyyy too much music, Tim McCarver, and endless commercials for the Fox Business Channel.

New policy - fear the foxhole, bash the FOX. Get ready.

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