From Print To Broadcast p.11

By: Dorothy Giobbe After five years as an Emmy Award-winning TV news
correspondent, former New York Daily News reporter
Marcia Kramer hasn't lost her love for newspapers sp.

MARCIA KRAMER IS dodging traffic.
Picking her way through a relentless midday, midtown bottleneck, the CBS correspondent waylays a dozen or so New Yorkers. Her purpose? A hunt for reaction to Mayor Guiliani's latest salvo: slapping jaywalkers with a $50 fine.
Guiliani's press people deny plans for a crackdown. Kramer, however, has verification from a reliable source. A few hours later, she confronts the mayor during a city hall press conference. He hedges; she presses. Ultimately, Guiliani admits the plan is being looked at.
Kramer has what she came for. Meanwhile, she still has the mayor's attention, so she tries for a sound bite. "When was the last time you jaywalked?" she shouts to the mayor. As the room erupts in laughter, Guiliani ? a former prosecutor ? grouses that he will "neither admit nor deny" that he has done so.
Kramer laughs along with the rest of the room, but her camera crew has it all on videotape. That evening on the six o'clock news, she delivers a two-minute piece complete with the mayor's stilted reply and rowdy responses from people in the street.
During her five years with CBS, Kramer's reporting has made her a force to be reckoned with. But her instincts for a great story stretch back to her print days, and have survived a transition through two vastly different industries: Kramer is one of a handful of journalists who left a thriving newspaper career to find commensurate success in broadcast news.
For many years, Kramer's home was the New York Daily News. In the early 1970s, she landed at the News as a cub reporter, a degree from Boston University in hand. In 1982, she became the newspaper's first female Albany bureau chief. In 1986, she was named the first female city hall bureau chief, arguably one of the most powerful positions at the newspaper.
But when 10 unions went on strike at the Daily News in 1990, Kramer left the rough-and-tumble tabloid and joined the news team at CBS.
Currently, in addition to her investigative and political reporting duties, Kramer co-hosts CBS "Sunday Edition", an issues- and current events-driven program.
Today, Kramer won't comment on her decision to leave the News, other than to say it was "personal" and "related to the strike."
Whatever her reasons, she left behind an extraordinary career at the News. And while she credits the experience with building her into the journalist she is today, Kramer's education didn't come cheaply.
The Daily News of the early 1970s was typical of many big metro newspapers. For the most part, women reporters were given the 'sob sister' beat, or covered fashion and society.
A group of craggy old-timers ruled the city desk, some of whom viewed Kramer's arrival as an intrusion. Those who resented her made no effort to hide it, and Kramer recalls some shockingly cruel behavior.
"There was a lot of resentment towards a young woman reporter," she remembers, grimacing. "They were . . . hostile is a mild word. To call them male chauvinists would be a complement. Because they were beyond that."
"Also, remember, we're talking about the Daily News ? this wasn't the New York Times. We're talking about rough-living, hard-nosed guys who hung out with policemen in bars. They drank a lot, smoked a lot, and lived a rough, tough life, and women were not a part of that life."
Kramer rejects the suggestion that she was singled out because of her rookie status. Other first-year reporters didn't go through similar treatment "because they peed in the same men's room."
How bad did it get? Kramer has a depressingly extensive array of examples.
One time an editor called me up in front of everyone and said, 'Marcia, I just wanted to tell you your left boob is hanging lower than your right boob.' I don't know how I survived it, I really don't. It was miserable. I would go home and cry every night for the first year."
Kramer says she stayed for two reasons: an irresistible challenge and the realization that she had a tremendous chance to learn.
"That was the other side of the coin. So many of them were amazing journalists. If you were to look at the Daily News 20 years ago, it was all about the writing ? the News really put a premium on great writing. Here I was in this incredible laboratory ? I was around these incredible journalists, writers and reporters.
"Also, I guess I felt I could do the job. And that I wasn't going to let them get me down. I was going to prove to them that I could do the job as a woman ? that you didn't have to have a pair of pants and a jockstrap in order to be a good journalist.
"And remember, journalism at that time was a male-dominated profession all across the board. It wasn't just the Daily News. So in my mind, the question was ? is it going to be different at any other newspaper? My conclusion was no."
Early on at the News, Kramer learned that showing vulnerability was tantamount to swimming in a shark tank with open wounds. A frank talk with a co-worker helped adjust her perspective.
"There was a guy who sat next to me, who kind of took me aside. He said 'look, you're not going to survive here if you let them get to you ? you have to develop a veneer. It doesn't have to be how you really feel inside, but if you give it back to them, they'll leave you alone. If they think they can get to you, they're going to keep doing it.'"
Kramer developed a veneer. Also, she developed into an award-winning journalist, which she says went a long way toward earning the old-timers' respect.
Today, Kramer says that, as a reporter, she is "eternally grateful" for her early News days. "I got the experience of being on the street. I got to understand New York from the streets up and you can't pay for that kind of education."
And the old-style tabloid journalists whose writing she revered? Kramer says that many are dead or retired. "There were a lot of people, who were, you know, hard-bitten, hard-drinking, hard-smoking, who also were incredible at their job."

The switch to TV

The stop-start, roller coaster life of a reporter for the News gave Kramer an edge when she moved to CBS. Even so, she had much to learn.
"I knew a lot about journalism when I came to TV, but I knew nothing about TV. You have to train your mind how to think. Just like how I learned how to write a certain way at the Daily News by watching all of those people and picking up things, it's like you have to train yourself for TV."
The proper training, Kramer says, lies in learning how to "think visually." Also, learning to "write like you can say it, like you're talking to yourself.
"I smoked marijuana but I didn't inhale" isn't just a slippery admission of drug use by a hard-charging presidential candidate. It's a dream sound bite, capturing the political duplicity which voters despise.
When candidate Clinton made that admission to Kramer on "Weekend Edition" during the 1992 New York presidential primary, she knew she had arrived.
"The Clinton thing was fun. After he said it, I knew it was going to be a big story, but I never thought it would become part of the folklore. And he did it all to himself."
Though the Clinton interview made headlines all over the world, Kramer cuts the topic short and moves quickly to the work she says she is most proud of: her investigative reports.
One of her favorite pieces is "Club Ed," for which she won a 1994 Emmy. In it, she exposed local school board members taking trips and trotting the globe, paid for with funds intended for schoolchildren.
More recently, she broke up a theft ring in which goods were stolen from school warehouses and sold on the black market. Cameras caught the thieves loading the swiped supplies onto a truck ? an image, Kramer says ? which was seared into viewers' minds.
Kramer knows all about the argument for the influence of video and she wields it sharply against journalists who criticize television news as less substantial than print.
"In my story with the people stealing stuff from school warehouses, the Times probably could have written 10,000 words on it. But I had a picture.
"I ask you ? which is going to have more impact? I can show you ten seconds of those guys loading up the stuff. Let me tell you something. That's better than 10,000 words in the Times because you see them being crooks. Period. End of story."
That's not to say she isn't a newspaper fan. While newspapers have good reason to worry about TV, Kramer says "I think that's sad, because I love newspapers."
In her beginning CBS days, Kramer didn't have much confidence in her broadcast skill. She says she can't look at her early tapes without wincing.
"I think you had to have a really strong stomach to watch some of my early stuff. I can't believe they let me go on looking and sounding like that, and doing like that."
She credits her improvement on a natural learning curve, aided by coaching. "When you're coming into people's living rooms you have to be comfortable to them. I've come to understand that it's a really helpful thing."
But it took some getting used to, Kramer said.
"Being told how to change your appearance goes to the heart of your being. You know, you have a certain self-image and basically they're telling you . . . [laughs] it's not an easy thing to go through. At first, I guess I felt threatened."
And while print journalists sometimes scoff at the emphasis placed on broadcast image, Kramer is impatient with those who won't see beyond that point.
"It isn't the biggest difference between print and TV, although print people think it is. Listen, I went through this. I'm not trying to sell you a bill of goods here. I'm telling you how I feel about it from my heart.
For print reporters thinking about a transition to broadcast, Kramer has some advice. Get coaching, she urges, and develop a knowledge of "the bite light." Also, she warns, "be ready to go through byline withdrawal for the first six months."
Above all, she says, stick with it.
"It's the same reporting skill. The problem is that a lot of people think it's not.
"When I first came here, a friend of mine, Josh Mankiewicz was the political reporter. I went to him almost in tears after my first few days. He said, 'Marcia, there's nothing wrong with you that 200 stories won't fix.' And I think that's true for print or broadcast."

?(Photo by Robert Salgado) [Caption]
?(Former New York Daily News reporter Marcia Kramer has been a correspondent with WCBS-TV for almost five years. Her reports have prompted a number of changes in the New York City public school system, and won her an Emmy in 1994. ) [Photo & Caption]
?(In addition to gathering daily information in the field for her on-camera and investigative reports, Kramer co-hosts Sunday Edition, a weekly public-affairs broadcast. Above left, she confers with cameraman Barry Weiss. Above right, she discusses a point with Les Payne, Newsday's assistant managing editor, as her co-host, Tony Guida, looks on.) [Photo & Caption]


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