November 15th, 2011
Whenever AR&D researchers talk to local TV news viewers – whether in online or telephone studies or in focus groups – they always make the same statement. It is the most consistent comment we get from coast to coast and all the markets in between – “They all look the same.”
Of course, the fingers of blame get pointed in many directions. The media pundits have for decades blamed those dastardly news consultants for fostering this sea of sameness in local TV newscasts. To that – I say – “Balderdash!” Local TV news departments point the finger at staff reductions, and a lack of feet on the street – causing them to repeat many of the same news stories. Once again that is rubbish.
No – the real culprit in this “they all look alike” problem is the advent of computer newsrooms – and the dreaded “cut and paste” philosophy. Hey, I’m a busy producer – and this story looks OK – I’ll just cut and paste into my newscast. Why re-write it?
Well, Conan O’Brien proved “why” on a recent program. Conan had announced the day before that he would perform a gay marriage ceremony on his program. It was going to be the last night in New York for the show – where gay marriages are legal – and one of his show employees was going to tie the knot. That announcement was an item in local TV newscasts across the country.
Unfortunately – “Cut and Paste Fever” was at a high pitch – as Conan proved with this clip the next day on his program. Every local anchor read the same story – with the exact same wording – and it seemed to go on forever. Take a look for yourself - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GME5nq_oSR4.
So – to avoid such nonsense – you would do well to heed the words of KPHO, Phoenix News Director Michelle Donaldson – who sent a note to her staff after seeing Conan’s clip with these words – “EVEN IN HASTE – DO NOT COPY AND PASTE.”