• Multi-Media? Too Many News Directors Don’t Know

    April 17th, 2010

    “Don’t know” is not an acceptable answer by television news directors when it comes to multi-media platforms. But that became very clear during Bob Papper’s excellent presentation at the RTDNA convention.

    It astonishes me that about half of the TV news directors in the survey “didn’t know” what the traffic was on their TV station website. Another 43% “didn’t know” if their TV website was profitable. Those are unacceptable answers if you hope to reach your viewers on multiple platforms – something you MUST do to survive in the future.

    How about training your news staff – assuring that they know and understand the rapidly changing online and digital platforms? Well, 5% of the TV news directors said they “didn’t know” if anyone was training their staff. Another 14% in the RTDNA survey said they “hoped the staff was keeping up” with those trends. Hoping? That is not a strategy. TV news needs leaders not managers. If you are not leading the online/digital charge with your staff you are not the news director of the future.

    This is especially important due to another finding that Papper explained at the convention. 48% of the TV news directors surveyed admitted they “have a long way to go” when it comes to training, educating and getting their staffs interested in producing news across multiple platforms. On the positive side – another 38% said they were producing news across multiple platforms. But that means almost 60% of you are getting left in the digital dust!

    The survey did notice an uptick in the number of stations using Multi-Media Journalists (Papper referred to them as One Man Bands). 32% of the news directors say they are “mostly using” MMJ’s – up 10% over last year. Another third of the stations are using “using some” MMJ’s. But 21% said “not much.” There is one encouraging sign – while 18% say they “do not use” MMJ’s – that number is down from 29% in 2009.

    So – where is your news department on these issues? If you have no idea about your web traffic – that should be job one. Do a personal assessment on where you stand on these questions. If you are on the wrong side of the answers – you need to get onboard right now!


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  • On TV Newscasts – As In Life – Crime Doesn’t Pay!

    April 4th, 2010

    “If it bleeds, it leads” is an old local TV news chestnut that is as far out of touch with today’s customers as black and white video – yet across the country you keep doing it over and over. And then, you wonder why fewer people are watching local TV news, and why your newscasts are not relevant to your viewers anymore.

    I have been involved in numerous research projects this year – both telephone and online studies – and one message comes through loud and clear from your customers in every part of the country – they feel safe. They also rank a “crime focus” at the bottom of their interest list. So why do so many local TV newscasts persist in their pursuit of meaningless crime stories?

    Well, my observation is that many producers – and news managers – feel it is “hard news.” They are always looking to lead their newscasts with “hard news.” That is very misguided. I have been telling my clients for years that viewers have no interest in one-on-one crime but they continue to lead newscasts with it – and then wonder why their newscasts are not relevant to viewers. Let me say it again – Viewers simply do not care if one unknown person stabs, shoots or kills another unknown person. It does not affect their lives. It is not “hard news” to your customers.

    Now, there are times, of course, when crime news is very relevant to viewers. If their is a rapist on the loose in one part of town – that affects a lot of people wondering if they could become a victim. Put it in perspective, use a map, and let them know what to be on the lookout for. A crime that viewers can identify with can be relevant to your viewers. A few weeks ago in Dallas, a mother of two was simply enjoying the sun, sitting on a bench in a park, when a mentally unstable person stabbed her in the back, severing her spinal cord. She is now paralyzed. That is a sad story that captures an emotion – anger – in your viewers.

    But the message here is simply this – a daily dose of one-on-one crime, perp walks and other mayhem leading your newscast is a turnoff to your viewers. Their concerns these days are economic issues, politicians wasting their tax dollars, and someplace to take the kids this weekend.

    The other problem is that producers string these crime stories together – one after another – because they feel similar content needs to be lumped together. That results in newscasts with 5-to-6 perp walks and guys in court in orange suits droning by – becoming a blur of irrelevant content. The next move by viewers is “click!”

    So – knock it off already unless you want viewers to continue to watch less and less of your local TV newscasts.


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