Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tom Corbett's TV time

Gov. Corbett's press office inadvertently emailed an accounting of the Guv's TV time as calculated by a service paid for by taxpayers.

Tom Corbett's TV time

And now a little peek at how tax dollars track Gov. Corbett's TV time.

Earlier this week, I (and I don't know how many others) got an odd email from the governor's press office.

The subject line was "Gov. Corbett's TV News Clips." It detailed the number of times the governor's name was mentioned during 10 TV news programs on stations throughout the state over a four-day period.

It included the "estimated audience" and the "estimated publicity value."

The former was 373,309. The latter was $11,368.

My immediate thought was "oops," this appears to be a report from a contracted service saying the Guv got $11,368 of "publicity" during the stated time and that, likely, this isn't something his press office meant to share with the press.

After contacting Corbett communications director Lynn Lawson, who confirmed the email was sent "in error," I got the story.

There is indeed a contract with a media-tracking firm, New York-based Critical Mention, for $12,000 a-year.

The firm monitors and collects bits from TV news and then reports all mentions of Corbett.

For example, on Oct. 11 at 4:01 pm, WTAJ in Johnstown reported Corbett recently stopped by the Elk County Visitors Center (a mention estimated at $604 worth of "publicity value"); and on Oct. 12 at 11:06 p.m., KWY in Philly mentioned that a spokesman for Corbett said the state didn't have funds to reopen federal parks during the government shutdown (a mention estimated at $4,999 worth of "publicity value").

Here's the report in question.

According to Lawson, such tracking is routine and also done by the Legislature and the Office of Attorney General under separate contracts. The $12,000 contract covers the governor's office and several state agencies.

(I'm working on getting contract totals.)

The tracking is done, Lawson says, to monitor all TV reports for accuracy. The "publicity value" is included because most Critical Mention's clients are for-profit companies pushing products or services.

This isn't an original idea. A former aide to former Gov. Rendell said the system was in place during Ed's years as well.

So nothing new here. Just another small ongoing example of your tax dollars at work.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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