November 30th, 2010
Media purists prepare to gasp in exasperation! NBC Local Media is looking for the top 20 most influential Tweeters in their ten O&O markets to bring eyeballs to their TV websites. OMG! – Media purists will say – a further blurring of the line between “real” journalists and those “other people.”
As for us at AR&D – we think it is a brilliant move. Our 2.0 Guru Terry Heaton has been helping client TV stations hook up with the most influential folks in the local Blogosphere for years. He recognized a long time ago that these writers, who truly are immersed in their community, can draw attention to a local TV station’s website. Moving to the “Twitter-Sphere” is a natural progression of Terry’s forward-thinking.
NBC Local Media will identify the Top 20 Tweeters in each of their local markets and give them a special section on NBC’s TV websites. They’ll be asked to comment on many topics – fashion, culture, dining, sports, education, politics and the like. Specifics are fuzzy but they also say these Tweeters will be featured on air.
While Facebook continues to have 2-to-3 times more users than Twitter – there are still 95 million Tweets sent every day. It is becoming a stronger force in the marketplace – and many of my clients use it specifically for news and information exchanges with Tweeters for story ideas and perspective on stories.
Our research shows that most local TV websites have a difficult time gathering eyeballs that do not already belong to fans of their local newscasts. In fact, AR&D research across the country consistently shows that the percentage of people who visit a local TV station website is equal to about half of their Favorite Station percentage. In other words, if a station has a 30% preference score – about 15% of the market will visit their website. Obviously, to be successful you must move beyond your current local TV news constituency.
That’s why this move by NBC Local Media is an excellent idea. It extends their reach beyond fans of their local TV news. I assume the “Chosen 20” Tweeters will be those with the largest number of followers.
And for you news purists – you do know, I assume, that pro sports organizations are now issuing credentials to influential bloggers in their markets? You know – those non-professional writers who gather large numbers of followers on the web! In fact, one of them, Chris Botta who writes a popular blog about the New York Islanders just had his press credential revoked for writing about his disagreement with management of the NHL team. Wow! – that’s just like a real professional journalist eh?
November 15th, 2010
A news release about a new “local” newscast in Gainesville, Florida caught my eye the other day. It stated “stories are produced locally by a Gainesville staff, but its anchors and production facilities are based in Iowa.”
Say what? This is a “local” newscast? Really?
I dug a little further and found that the company – International News Network – is based in Davenport, Iowa. They apparently produce and anchor newscasts for TV stations in Omaha, to Montgomery, Alabama to Alexandria, Louisiana. While it may be admirable to want a small market newscast to have a larger market look and feel – I have major problems with this approach.
First off, we at AR&D believe that local news anchors need to be much more than “talking heads” somewhere hundreds of miles away from the market they are serving. In our book, Live, Local, Broken News – we espouse the idea that local TV news anchors need to be the Chief Journalists at their stations. It is impossible to know your market, and be the lead journalist in the newsroom when you are simply reading copy for several stations a day many states away from the market you are supposedly serving.
Secondly, I have a real problem with how these stations are not being up front with their customers about the “distant anchor” situation. For instance, the bio for anchor Bryan Latham – who anchors the news in Gainesville from Iowa – states that he “looks forward to meeting new people and making new friends.” How is he going to do that? Is he going to Skype some viewers in Florida?
Cathy Catlett – an anchor from the International News Network in Iowa – appears on the websites of at least three different stations that I found. Once again the stations are not very forthcoming in explaining this “distant anchor” arrangement.
Catlett’s bio on KPTM in Omaha says, “She’s thrilled to be serving the Omaha community.” It doesn’t say anything about – “while sitting in an anchor chair hundreds of miles away.” On the KLAX website her bio reads, “after spending three years with Indiana 9, Cacky left to pursue her current position as anchor/producer for KLAX-TV.” Once again there’s no mention that her anchor chair is nowhere near Alexandria.
There was a company that started providing “local” weather for smaller markets about a decade ago – also from a distant studio. I believed then, and I more strongly believe now, that if a local TV station is truly serving their market – they can’t have part of their newscast – especially important staff members like anchors and meteorologists – based hundreds of miles away but appearing to be onsite. That is pure deception – plain and simple.
Now, I understand that these “local” newscasts served by the Iowa Company generate their own local stories, and have their own local news director. So apparently the TV stations feel that at least that much localism is important. So, why not let those local folks also anchor the newscasts? That’s how we built the next generations of anchors for over 50 years.
That’s how stations have served their communities – and in many cases – become the dominant station in their market. I have no use for these distant talking heads – especially when the stations deceive their viewers. Doesn’t exactly build trust does it?