February 22, 2001


Incoming Prexy GEORGE DEA ran the meeting, with Mr. President STEVE lollygagging in Arizona, or so it is claimed. The crowd was somewhat rowdy - so what is new? - and HENRIETTA LIAN bravely stepped forward to lead the Pledge. The song was the Battle Hymn of the Republic, led by Mr. HARRIS and someone named Three-Finger JIM. As an intro, we were informed that we would be accompanying the Folsom State Prison Choir. When you consider that these guys don't have much else to do, we compared pretty favorably. SANDY SANDERSON stepped up with an Invocation, pointing out the difference between Needs and Wants - the Wants are up to each of us, while The Good Lord will handle our Needs.

SUSAN ALLEN admitted that we had no Visiting Rotarians, but lots of regular visitors. SUSAN again brought Jinbeck Lee, who is in Extension at UCLA studying accounting.

The ZICKFELD family was well represented, with wife Marjorie, son Roger, and granddaughter Lauren. PDG ANDY ANDERSON introduced the new West LA Commanding Officer, Captain Rich Weemer - and it's always good to have new officers in the area at our meetings - please keep it up, ANDY.

RUDY ALVAREZ, fresh from chairing his International Service Committee Meeting earlier today, then spoke about our two outstanding students who will be going on the Japan Student Exchange this summer. They are Lauren Zickfeld, who was introduced earlier, and Rachel Scherer, daughter of STEVE and Debbie - Rachel is a sophomore at Pennsylvania, and thus could not be present today. These are great kids, and they should look forward to an outstanding experience, for sure. RUDY also announced our sponsorship of a life-sized Angel, made of Plexiglas and decorated by Tania Fischer, an artist who is the daughter of Dolly and JOE FISCHER. As those of you who can decipher photos on the Internet already know, several of us gathered at Tania's home to pose with our newest angel - included were KEN KILPO, ANN SAMSON, DOLLY & JOE FISCHER, SHIRLEY MORE, STEVE ADLER and CLAUDE CUTRIGHT, and YOE even sneaked in. This lovely statue will be planted in the Village sometime soon - so if KEN KILPO calls, BE THERE to be present at the installation, OK?

KEVIN KOMATSU announced the upcoming American Cancer Society program called Daffodil Days - this will provide flowers for local cancer patients, and KEVIN has details. (One suggestion here, if I may - these announcements are easier to hear if made from the Podium, please). BRUCE ROLF offered a ticket for the Golf Tournament at Riviera, which also included a medical workup for Lipocor, a cholesterol drug, worth lots more than just the ticket, and the aforementioned (YOE loves that word…) HENRIETTA LIAN stepped up, bidding $30 for the package. GEORGE DEA reminded us that space is still available for the San Antonio International Convention, which runs from June 24th thru the 27th - ask him for details, please. PP HOWIE HENKES introduced our two newest members, JAYNE SPENCER, sponsored by PP TOM LENEHEN and RO SHAW, sponsored by HENRY TSENG. We learned that JAYNE is a University Lecturer, and has two Masters and a Ph.D., which should help the average education level of our membership, while RO is a Health Consultant. Welcome aboard, ladies!

PP STEVE DAY, exercising his duty as Uncle of Lauren Zickfeld, (and incidentally as WVRC'S Chair of the Rotary Foundation) presented a Paul Harris Fellowship to Lauren, given by her proud grandparents, MARJORIE & RAY. In so doing, he first provided us with some great history - it makes you really proud to be a Rotarian. The idea of a charitable giving vehicle started in 1917, with a first donation of $26.50 from the Kansas City Club. By 1928, this had grown to $5,000.00, and the Foundation itself was chartered. In 1930 they made their first grant of $500.00 to the International Society of Crippled Children. Another historical note - tomorrow, February 23rd, is the 96th Anniversary of the FIRST Rotary meeting! The funds really started to grow after WWII , and a major blossoming occurred in 1966, with several new programs. Since its inception, 726,000 Paul Harris Fellows have been created - meaning $726 BILLION dollars has been donated - which is used to support these programs. And remember how far the money goes - your $1,000 contribution will provide school supplies for 1200 kids for a year in Guatemala, or, another example, will buy ten sewing machines which can provide independent income for that many families in Mexico. Keep it up! Lauren very nicely thanked MARJORIE and RAY, plus the Club for accepting her for our Japanese Exchange.

PP RALPH WOODWORTH introduced our Speaker, David Dow, a CBS News correspondent. He is a 38-year veteran of print and broadcast journalism, joining CBS in 1972 and during that time, reporting from more than two dozen countries on three continents. He has covered seven national political conventions - plus the O.J. Simpson trial, the three Rodney King trials, the LA riots, and Mt. St. Helen's eruption (this, for variety, apparently). Seriously, he is broadly experienced, with a degree from Stanford, and he and his wife (who is a professor of pediatrics at USC) also had a daughter graduate from USC.

David began with a good story about a guy who had all kinds of problems, which he wasn't worried about, but his final question before he proposed to his prospective wife was, "Should I tell her I'm a newspaperman?" He reminded us that it was Winston Churchill who remarked that Democracy was the worst of all forms of Government, except all the others. He recalled being called away during Thanksgiving 1978 to cover the San Francisco People's Temple story, and his Christmas 1989 was spent reporting on the Panama Invasion and eventual trial of General Noreiga. This past December he spent the whole month in Austin, Texas - so the life of a correspondent really takes you all over.

David believes we can do better than we are now doing with news coverage. For example, the foreign bureaus of most news services are steadily being reduced. They are expensive to maintain - but the local contacts they provide cannot be duplicated by reporters just arriving on the scene. Another example is coverage of the State of California - at one time, all the major networks had resident correspondents in Sacramento, when our state budget was $5 billion dollars. It is now $100 billion - and they rely on reporters traveling to the scene of breaking news - again, a lack of contacts and thus a lack of in-depth reporting.

We can improve our use and utilization of technology. The capability is there, but much of the time the stories covered are done simply because we have the local capacity, not because they are necessarily the most important news stories of the day. Our Justice System is not generally understood, so he is a strong advocate for more live coverage within the courtroom. As a specific example, the Supreme Court is never seen, and yet it is hard to imagine an attorney showboating before them - which is one of the 'dangers' that restrict such coverage. It would certainly provide a window on the many important issues that come before this, the highest court in the land. A recent survey of 150 local stations found that quality does indeed sell --that is, longer and more in-depth stories are what viewers are seeking.

Examples of courtroom excesses abound - two trials of O.J. Simpson, 8 months for the criminal, and then 3 months for the civil version - demonstrates that they didn't NEED 8 months the first time. He specifically praised Jim Newton and Andrea Ford for their excellent coverage of these trials, and reminded us that they presented entirely colorblind reporting - just the facts, ma'am! With gavel to gavel coverage, the nuts and bolts of the justice system would be a lot clearer to a lot of people. In 1980 the laws concerning court coverage were greatly improved, and the judge still has the final say on what can be shown.

Q&A - Is there a liberal bias in national commentators? There are certainly more Democrats than Republicans doing the reporting, but whether they slant news is doubtful. Car chases - they are exercising more discretion, they claim. Is there a move to more insightful reporting - the magazine shows help here (60 Minutes started this trend). However, State Government is still not well covered, yet they spend a lot of money - we should know more about what is going on there. Is the 11 O'clock news as trashy as some think? We need more substantive news, certainly, but the national news has already been reported by then, so getting a real focus on what should be offered is difficult. David Dow, thanks for your insights into an important subject for all of us.

Thought for the Day - Ann Landers says, "TV has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other".

YOE, Ernie Wolfe.