Fading Fortunes for Local TV News: It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid

As if local tv newsers don’t have enough to worry about these days, here comes research from Ketchum Public Relations that shows local TV news has slipped significantly from its perch as the top information source for most Americans. According to Ketchum, there’s a “steady erosion of mass media authority,” with local TV news consumption falling from 74% to 63% in 2008. That’s an 11 percent drop, exactly the same percentage that blogs were UP… from 13% to 24%.

This isn’t about car dealers and retailers rolling back their ad spending. This is about viewers getting their information elsewhere. And that’s a big deal when pondering the viability of the medium in the future. Steve Smith at minonline.comketchum_logo_web puts it this way: “Professional content continues to have authority and a role in people’s media lives, but it has to be ready to speak and position itself as a part of a larger conversation. Social syndication tools, journalist blogs and email remain powerful tools for publishers. But just as appointment television is becoming a relic of last century’s mass media model, all forms of content will need to move into evolving usage paths.”

UPDATE:  Looking for an idea on how to bring your news to consumers who might not be sitting in front of the tube at 6 anymore?  Check out this idea:  WRAL/Raleigh’s iPhone app.  Read up on Outside the News Box.



Filed under Local News 2.0

9 responses to “Fading Fortunes for Local TV News: It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid

  1. Mark,

    ‘Thanks for this link to your blog of today. I had no idea you were on this issue when I Tweeted last night that regardless the date of digital conversion, local TV will lose significant viewership.
    I’d love to brain-storm some more with you about this. I’m in the middle of it, and I see it happening day by day.
    Keep up the good work!

    Dave Courvoisier
    News Anchor,
    Las Vegas, NV

  2. Not surprising. We have seen this decline for a number of years. I think stations have to understand it’s not about bringing viewers back to television, it’s delivering the news to the “new” platforms they are using to be informed; Social networking, blogs, email, mobile video, RSS feeds.

    We have broader audiences now, it takes broader thinking.

  3. dk3

    Broadcast TV news will have it’s place, at least for a few years, because people love HD. The numbers may be slipping but I think they will find their happy equilibrium because there is, and will be for at least another 8 years, a market for news on HDTV. Until you can get streaming HD over the internet or on to your mobile device instantly, there will still be a demand for cable and satellite. TV also has the ease of use factor on it’s side… I think everyone can appreciate the simplicity of turning on the t.v. and not having to do anything more after a long day at work or a lazy Sunday afternoon to find out what’s going on… Only time will tell but I don’t think local TV news consumption will continue to drop into nonexistence. We will see!

  4. Ken, dk3…

    Great insights. It’s both a scary, and exciting time. People will always need the product we make… we just have to stay ahead of the curve and get it to them when and where they want it, and in a way that keeps them coming back to us for more.

    But sitting back and doing it the old way (and that can even mean last year at this point) won’t be a plan for survival.


  5. Good post. One of my dreams someday is to be a TV news producer, but the sluggish economy, as well as the continous layoffs at stations nationwide, might make achieving that goal more difficult. Maybe it’s time to let go of it. What do you think?

    • Walter, it’s a tough question to answer. Dreams, you know? I hate the idea of giving them up lightly. If it’s truly your passion, be flexible, be ready to not make a fortune, and to endure setbacks and irritations and changes. We need talented, passionate, creative people in this business to keep it alive and important.

      What does everyone else think? What are you all advising young aspiring journalists?


  6. Mark:

    Actually, I’m 37 years old, going on 38 this spring. So while that doesn’t exactly make me a young aspiring journalist, I’m not exactly old either. But you’re right. Journalism does need a few good men, and women, to stay afloat, whether the emphasis is on print, broadcast, or even the Internet. It’ll be interesting to see what shape and/or form the news business will take in the years to come.

  7. Math nitpick: TV is down 11 points, and blogs are up 11 points. On a percentage basis, it’s a lot more stark: TV is down 15% (11 divided by 74), and blogs are up 85% (11 divided by 13).

    Great blog, by the way!

    • Thanks for the correction! (As we all know, some of us didn’t end up in television for our math skills…) And thanks for the kind word on the blog. Glad to have you here.


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