What The Heck…Local News?

Here in Cincinnati, there is a census being taken on whether or not a local t.v. station should drop sports from their newscast. Having worked in the news industry for awhile (14 years), there are also a few things that can definately be changed about local news…but dropping sports ain’t one of them. Of course I have to give my 2 cents worth. I did it when I worked in news and no one cared. I see the same thing happening here…so here I go…

It is my opinion (it’s my site, of course it’s my opinion) that news directors all over the country have it all wrong. Of course, a majority hire big time consultants to come in and tell them what is wrong with their newscasts (wrong talent, wrong content, wrong look), but the truth is that most news directors could figure that out on their own. The face of news has changed so much over the last 20 years that the entire industry is due for an overhaul…but no one wants to do it! With the internet, a gazillion other channels and now HD being shoved down their throats (seriously…why do I need to see my local news anhor in high def?), there are a lot of factors on the demise of local news. Here is my take.

First off, we are tired of shock news. Shocking news is when a gunman goes into a college and murders 14 people. Shocking news is when a sect in Texas is sexually abusing women and children. Shocking news isn’t a house fire in Indiana. Shocking isn’t another shooting on downtown Cincinnati. Do I need to know about it? Maybe. But do I need extended coverage of live shots and multiple stories with interviews of people who live in that neighborhood and who may or may not know those involved? Nope. Let me decide what is worthy of Breaking News…I don’t need you to tell me what it is. Just tell me what happened and how it concerns me. Then move on…

To weather. because until my kid gets into high school and starts playing local sports, all I really want to know is what the weather is gonna be here in my city.

If you really want to get my attention, and I think you do…then tell me something positive. I’m tired of being bombarded with negativity. A local station here let their feature reporter go about a year ago. I knew the man and he was funny, he was informative, and he did good things for the community. The station let him go. Still haven’t figured that one out. I want some reason to feel good about my city. I’m tired of homicides and courtroom drama and car accidents. All of these things happen. It’s life. I don’t know if I really need to know about all of it. But you tell me about a little girl who has survived cancer and how she did it, I’m more likely to watch.

Now, about that sports department. For the last 20 years, sports has dwindled to about the final 5 minutes (with commercials) of your local newscast. I realize that maybe not everyone is really into sports. And that’s okay. But I live in a city that has 2 professional sports teams. It has 2 high-profile college teams. Cities within a 2 hour radius also have big time college teams and/or pro teams. We also have several minor league options. And we have a bevy of local high school programs that have thousands of kids participating in sports. You want to look for new viewers? You want to bring in someone other than the 21-35 women demographic? Uh…I’m thinking you are seeing where I’m going here.

For years stations have been depleting their sports departments. Most have, at best, a sports director and maybe a photographer that is dedicated to sports. My feeling is you’ve dropped the ball here. Look at the thousands of fans who go to a Reds/Brewers game every night? Granted, 25,000 ain’t a lot compared to the Cubs who sell out every night, but still it’s 25,000 viewers who might not have watched your newscast that night. But you send a photog and a reporter down there, interview about 20 people, edit something together and you set yourself up as a presence at that stadium.

At your local high school, nothing garners more excitement than the possibility that you might end up on t.v.. There are high school games being broadcast on local Fox Sports Network programming. There are local games being broadcast on public access. People want to see their kids play sports on t.v. The same goes for highlights. You send a tv crew to a few games a night, you get viewers.

Of course, this is just my opinion…but you got it all backwards. Maybe local news should start figuring out that it’s not about what’s killing us that we’re interested in these days. It’s what is keeping us alive that matters…and we like our sports and weather and feel good stories.

Hmmmm…maybe I should be a consultant! Imagine the money I could make. Or maybe I just gave it all away. Nuts…


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1 Response to What The Heck…Local News?

  1. Pingback: Community Media: Selected Clippings - 04/21/08 « Clippings for PEG Access Television

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