Off Beat

Cyber Jacked

WHEN KSTP-TV (Channel 5) ran footage on December 19 of Northwest Airlines baggage handlers carelessly pitching packages around the tarmac at the Minneapolis airport, the story made national news and was picked up as far away as Germany. Even Channel 4000, the Web site for WCCO-TV (Channel 4), ran KSTP's footage the next day. The problem: 'CCO can't touch the stuff. As KSTP news director Scott Libin explains, both stations (along with the local Fox affiliate) belong to a New York-based "cooperative" called the Network News Service, which collects and distributes news footage on a satellite server. One of the service's rules, however, dictates that only one member station per market can use an individual piece of video. "WCCO has no permission to air our footage in any capacity," exclaims Libin. When his calls to WCCO news director Ted Canova went unanswered on December 20, Libin called station manager Jan McDaniel, who, he says, was unaware of the error in judgment. Channel 4000 took down the footage. Canova blames the problem on Internet Broadcast Services, a local company that gathers news footage for Web sites. In this case, KCBS in Los Angeles picked up the footage from IBS and Channel 4000 grabbed it from there. "In the future, we need to be more aware of embargoes," Canova explains. "Not just for television, but on the Internet." Eventually KSTP got their just deserts. By way of an apology, NNS sent the station coffee, orange juice, doughnuts, six dozen bagels, and, yes, four cakes.

Targeted Giving

TARGET HAS ALWAYS patted its corporate self on the back for its stellar reputation for giving. (That generosity now exceeds $1 million per week, according to the company.) But you may have noticed something missing from the Target landscape this year: Toys for Tots drop boxes. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Mike Nykanen, Toys for Tots' local coordinator, confirms that although 25 local Targets served as drop sites last year, this year none did. Major Nykanen says the change hasn't affected the program--he simply found other cooperative retailers--but, he adds, "There has been some confusion: Some people didn't know that Target wasn't a drop site." According to Target spokeswoman Patty Morris, the company was just taking steps to enforce a longstanding "no solicitation" policy, which previously had been ignored by some local stores. "It is in no way designed to single out those kinds of organizations. It's designed to allow Target to focus its giving," Morris explains, noting the company's emphasis on arts, education, and family-violence-prevention charities. (Exempted from the policy are Salvation Army bell ringers, thanks to a national agreement between the company and the nonprofit.) Did Target issue any press releases aimed at informing confused Toys for Tots donors? No, Morris replies. "I think in a way it's unfortunate that the media is picking up on this."

Pomp and Poetry

'Twas the week before Christmas when Gov. Jesse Ventura

Unleashed a holiday poem with trademark pomp and bravura

Off Beat had to wonder after reading the lines

If Jesse really could write and knew how
to rhyme

Off Beat called John Wodele, the governor's main flack ,

To ask, "Who wrote this poem? Please call Off Beat back."

Wodele said "the poet laureate" of the Gov's PR team

Was a guy named Paul Moore, a ghostwriting dream

Off Beat knew the truth, and now so do you,

But we're left to wonder when he'll pen some haiku.