Monday, March 18, 2013

To stop losing audience: TRY REPORTING

What a surprise.   As the Pew Research Center reports, fewer people watch local TV news.   Pew finds only 28% of adults under 30 are regular news viewers.

Why should they watch?   To see who got shot?  To get a weather forecast they can get instantly on their iPhone?

Why would anyone go to the news store when there is no news?

A truly disturbing finder in this year's State of the Media Report is how the national press has increasingly turned into human microphone stands.   In examining the presidential campaign, Pew reports that campaign reporters were "acting primarily as megaphones, rather than as investigators."

For local TV the solution is not difficult, but it will take a commitment from management.  

Management must direct its news staff to report, to ask questions, to go after records.  Quality journalism takes time.  You can't build an audience with a live shot.  Management needs to hire first-rate reporters and give them the support to do what they're supposed to do.   In short, management needs to make the decision to put news in a newscast.   That can't be done if your staff consists of human microphone stands instead of journalists.

To build a local news audience, do news that matters not blather that doesn't.  

(Hint for the television station GM:  check the budget and staffing for your computer-assisted reporting unit.)


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