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Local TV news following the O'Reilly-Olbermann model

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bob Cook, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Interesting story here: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/356594-Cover_Story_Red_Stations_Blue_Stations.php

    It's talking about local news stations (WOIO in Cleveland is the example) getting into the screaming pundit business, seeing how Fox and MSNBC's ratings are rising and CNN's (and local TV's) play-it-straight approach is tanking.

    What do you think? Any TV people here trying this out?
  2. Karl Hungus

    Karl Hungus Member

    OK, I'll bite. I can't be that out of touch with my recent TV career...

    I think the article is on point when it says that maybe a No. 4 station in a market, or something along those lines, might give this a shot. I mean, why not?

    As for the top stations in most markets, it seems unlikely. I think local TV in general, tries to look out for its viewers, and have the viewer invite them in.

    There's some truth to this quote: “It's so much easier to dismiss viewers on the other side of the country than the ones down the street.” For that reason, some of these extra programs, such as a 5:00 or 7:00 news broadcast, have gone with interactive, feel-good, all-inclusive shows. At my former station, a 5:00 show was launched that used the word "Friends" in its title. Local TV still wants to make you feel good about its connection to you, and community.

    A station in my market (Raycom-owned) did editorials from time-to-time, in the old-school fashion where the GM does a 60-90 second block during a spot where a promo would normally appear. I don't think many ownership groups do these now, but they were certainly never in screaming pundit style. Some stations buried these: on Sunday afternoons while competitors have the NFL, or right before sign-off back in the old days. Some did these during a 6:00 or 11:00 newscast.

    In my experience, local TV and its ownership want to have as many eyeballs as possible. Having fewer eyeballs, albeit loyal ones, seems counterproductive in the biz.

    Also consider how you might segment your spots if potential advertisers back out on a station going one way or the other: local TV needs local advertising. There just isn't that much to go around, and I don't think anyone's in the position to burn bridges.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I think if I was a number three station, I might try and position my station just to the left or just to the right of the other two. I wouldn't advertise it, but I'd be on the lookout for opportunities to do stories that might appeal to conservatives or liberals depending on what you're trying to do.
    Maybe do a story about birth certificates, how they're handled in the county or state in comparison to other states. Do a story on a local Acorn chapter. Do a story on health care regulations/availability in your state. You don't even need to be biased, but hit the hot button issues that might attract viewers.
  4. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Agreed with all of this, except I wouldn't do it as a 4th place station, either.

    I'm in a market with 5 highly competitive stations doing news. On that level, it may be the most competitive market in the country. We have to work like hell for every ratings point. If we do a "when's that crazy Muslim going to release the Kenyan birth certificate?" story, we instantly lose a big part of our audience. Same with a "when are they going to try Bush for war crimes?" story. No way that's worth it.

    We already get flooded with email telling us they'll never watch us again because of our obvious bias. Of course, the bias changes from email to email.

    We have a Fox O & O in the market, and even they avoid politics for the most part. It's just not worth it on the local level. Bottom line, the number of people who actually give a shit about Acorn or swiftboating or whatever is really, really small, paerticularly compared to the number of people you piss off by going there.
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