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Ch.4's Drantch out-smarted by school board president

By Alan Pergament

As I wrote Monday, Channel 4 has "borrowed" Channel 2’s news slogan in promos and now says it is "holding the powerful accountable."

Sometimes, the reporters at both stations seem more interested in acting tough or asking tough questions than they are in getting any answers.

Take Monday night, when Channel 4 reporter Ed Drantch was out-smarted by the new president of the Buffalo Board of Education, Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, in an exchange the station played up in the 6 p.m. newscast.

Drantch, described as a "little bulldog" by former Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial, seems to be overplaying that reputation. He seemed proud of the confrontation, noting before it aired that Nevergold "didn’t seem to enjoy my line of questioning."

In other words, he was part of the story.

Then Channel 4 carried the exchange, which started when Drantch cornered Nevergold to ask how the board was going "to right the wrongs" in the Buffalo public schools.

She started to answer, but then smartly stopped and put Drantch on the defensive by asking a tough question about his almost unanswerable, vague question.

"What do you mean by right the wrongs?" asked Nevergold.

Drantch started by noting "the majority of your schools are failing," before adding an arguable statement that led to a strong Nevergold response.

"You have a tremendous amount of people leaving the area to go to suburban schools because your schools are failing," added Drantch.

"I won’t accept that people are leaving in droves because of the schools," replied Nevergold, who also told reporters she doesn't agree that most Buffalo public schools are failing.

In questioning whether people are "leaving in droves," Nevergold had a very good point. The problems in Buffalo schools have been well-documented for decades. How to try and improve them is an important question that can’t be answered in a 15-second sound bite.  Drantch didn’t define what he considered a "tremendous amount of people" leaving the city to be. He hasn't been around here long enough to know that people have been leaving the city because of the schools for as long as I have lived in Western New York:  43 years.

He didn’t offer any evidence or statistics to back up his claim that more people were leaving because of recent stories about the poor graduation rates and other lamentable public school issues.

To the contrary, realtors tell me that people are returning to the city and home values in many areas of the city are going up at a higher rate than they have been in the suburbs. They attribute that partly to empty nesters who are returning to the city after their children graduated from suburban schools, but it remains evidence that the city remains vital to many people. Additionally, developers can tell you that young people have been drawn to the city by new lofts and downtown apartments.

Many younger parents with school-age children still desire city life and find ways to deal with the schools issue. It is easier if they can afford private schools here or if their children enter some of the better city schools.

The point is the "little bulldog" was taught a quick lesson by Nevergold, who calmly and accurately told Drantch his answer to her question was without merit.

You might have thought that Channel 4 would have looked at the interview and decided against running it because Drantch was put on the defensive and out-smarted.

But it ran the debate anyway at 6 p.m.. However, the station apparently smartened up at 11 p.m., when it ran an update on the school story before anchor Don Postles just told viewers that parts of an interview with Nevergold were available on the station’s website.

In a small way, I guess you could say that Channel 4 righted its earlier wrong by shuffling off that unenlightening interview to the web.

Season one of "The Sopranos" is now airing on HBO On Demand so subscribers to the pay-cable network can see the award-winning performances of the late James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Season two will go On Demand in August and a new season will premiere every month. At 7 p.m. Thursday, July 4, HBO also is repeating the documentary on Iraq veterans that was executive produced by Gandolfini. It is called "Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq."





Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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