April 3rd, 2011
I was at a Larry The Cable Guy Show the other day, laughing along with everyone else until he went off on a rant about local TV News. I was shocked to see that Larry The Cable Guy knows news. It has been evident throughout his very successful “redneck” comedy career that he understands middle America. But I saw it first hand when he went off on local TV news.
Larry said, “I never watch TV news. It is nothing but bad news. 98% of us love our neighbors, are good people and lead good lives. But all you see on TV news is bad news. Every night they tell us – ‘The economy is bad’ – well no @#$% we all already know that.” Most viewers share Larry’s viewpoint. In fact, in a recent telephone study in a Midwest market – over 60% of all local TV news viewers said they had stopped watching because of the nightly beat down of bad economic news where they lived.
I wish that every news director, producer and reporter in America could have been sitting in that audience when Larry tore into local TV news. The audience roared their approval, and gave him the biggest applause of a night of big applause. It was eerie – I could feel the passion of the people sitting all around me. They agreed strongly with what Larry was espousing and I could feel their anger about the situation. It turned into the most emotional focus group I have ever been in.
Of course, we at AR&D have been telling our client TV stations for years that they need to mix in positive news with the daily dose of bad news. Unfortunately, that always seems to get misconstrued into – “Oh, you want us to do ‘good news’ – you know like the water-skiing squirrel and the 100 year-old’s birthday party.” NO! NO! NO! We want you to reflect your community. Reflect the good things going on, as well as the bad things. Bring balance to your newscast.
And please be more creative than putting a “Good News” or “Positive News” segment in a newscast once or twice a week. Weave the balance of positive and negative news throughout every newscast. Don’t do a package on the latest one-on-one murder, and then do a 10-second voiceover of a ribbon cutting for a new business. Tell your viewers how many jobs that new business is providing – and how to get them. That is balance.
In recent months, we have added a question to our TV viewer surveys – gauging their interest in a station that “Uncovers encouraging stories of economic change, positive outcomes and what’s working around the area – proof that things aren’t all bad.” You guessed it – it scores in the top three for viewers in market after market. And, NO, they are not saying the politically correct thing – they are reflecting the view of a huge majority of viewers in your market. They want balance. They want hope along with the bad news.
If you still don’t buy into that philosophy – I invite you to go to a Larry The Cable Guy live performance – and feel the passion for yourself!