Category Archives: Social Media

If Your Website’s All About Your TV Station, You’re Dead.

WEAR/Pensacola Has Anchor Heads Up Top, Clutter Everywhere

WEAR/Pensacola's Website Has Anchor Heads Up Top, Clutter Just About Everywhere Else

Considering the basic business of local television has always been, you know, television… and the people who do the news get hired in part for their energy, personality, and knowledge (don’t bother emailing, I know I should’ve said “youth, inexperience and willingness to work for pizza”), it must mean something that the most boring blogs and video-dead websites on the internet all seem to belong to local televisions stations.  

Here’s what it means:  Local newsers?  You still don’t get the internet.

So local news director?  GM?  Give me a moment of your time and let me spell it out for you. Ready?  You’ve got it precisely backward.  The station website isn’t a tool to drive people to your newscasts.  Your newscasts are tools–until they become obsolete and cease to exist in their current form–to gather up an audience for your website.  The future is online, and the sooner you start planning for that, the better chance you’ll have of surviving.

"Buzz Maven" Scott Clark

"Buzz Maven" Scott Clark

Scott Clark, a business strategist and search marketing guy knows his websites.  And back in January, he took a close look at how stations were performing with their sites, especially at times of maximum potential traffic: right after a huge regional ice storm.  His conclusion?  “You’re doing it wrong.”

Clark takes the sites apart for assuming everyone who shows up online watches their news (and knows the anchor heads plastered all over the screen), for failing to understand search engine optimization, for failing to keep video posts current and updated, and for just having some damn ugly and annoying sites to look at: “Basic human interface design is a mature industry. You don’t even need to hire someone, but at least do some reading or buy a book and learn a bit about web design.”

It pains me to say it, but the most advanced local news website thinking seems to be emerging from the corridors of NBC, which instituted its “Locals Only” sites on O&Os this year.  The sites have little or nothing to do with the local station, though stories appear and if you dig deep enough on the site, you can find a programming schedule.  But trust me, check out NBC New York and you’ll conclude quickly the powers that be at NBC don’t see the future in building up Channel 4.  Rather, WNBC is a vehicle to build the NBC New York brand, which will likely, at some point, outlast Chuck, Sue, and the 6:00 news.


Theres Not Much WCAU on the NBC Philadelphia Site

There's Not Much WCAU on the NBC Philadelphia Site

So local news managers?  Think about it.  You’ve still got power in your broadcast brand.  But think very carefully every time you send a viewer over to your website for “more information.”  On the sites I’ve seen, those lame anchor tags and web bugs may get you a click, but they also may convince a person to never bother with your website again.  Go have a look for yourself.  And think about it this way:  if you didn’t have a tv station on the side, could this website be your entire business?  Is it good enough to BE the franchise?

No?  Then you’re already behind.  And your competitors probably won’t slow down to let you catch up.



Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

WUSA/DC Local Newser Puts Himself on “Permanent Furlough” via Blistering Resignation Letter

Alan Henney said what others clearly felt:  something’s changed–and not for the better–at WUSA/DC.  “We are doing less news gathering these days and more information posting,” Henney writes in a memo to the WUSA news staff posted on DCRTV.  “Somebody needs to be driving the news machine at all times, actively pursuing news leads. We’ve lost our focus.”

WUSA, as most who follow the evolution of local TV news already know, recently replaced traditional news crews with one-man-bands, and converted its newsroom into an “information center” devoted to fast-paced, multiplatform news production:  getting the story told fast, in a variety of ways, from Twitter, to blogging, and sometimes even on a regular old newscast.

Henney, a weekend assignment editor at Channel 9, says the “shock and awe” digital campaign has come at a cost in the most basic of places:  doing the news.  “WUSA frequently lacks the discussion that is vital to the success of a vibrant news operation and falls into this model. Many of us are reluctant to say anything, and the suggestion box on the first floor is not enough. The consultants and out-of-touch corporate management have ruined the newscasts with repetitive Web clutter, endless sidebar packages, and their preoccupation with the Internet. You won’t find a blog anywhere that will generate enough revenue to support a news operation of this size, there are simply too many. We’ve heard regular speak of “Web Winners,” but what ever happened to the “News Winners?” A dying breed?”

Web Alert:  Is Anybody Doing the News?

Web Alert: Is Anybody Doing the News?

Henney’s letter has sparked a massive debate on the dcrtv site, and among DC local newsers.  It’s an important discussion, and sadly sparked by a man who felt his only option was to walk out, leaving the weekend desk after nearly a decade.  “Any corporation that allows employees to blog as an excuse for not reporting to work on time is not an organization with which I want to be associated. Effective immediately, I am placing myself on permanent furlough from the Gannett Corp,” he wrote.

DC newsers:  if you’ve watched the content coming from the Info Center, do you agree?  Has WUSA traded reporting for Twittering?  Can stations successfully do both?


Filed under Cutbacks, Furloughs, Local News 2.0, Social Media

Just Saying No to Social Media? That Could Hurt Your Local News Career

Need one more piece of evidence that knowing social media’s increasingly part of being in the media?  Well, Twitter-resister, listen up:  “Learn to organize and socialize,” writes Deborah Potter on her Advancing the Story blog.  Potter argues in a shrinking pool of local TV news jobs, people who have multimedia skills have the edge, no matter how good your walk-and-talk liveshots are:  “In the digital journalism context, it means knowing how to organize information from a variety of sources and how to push information out via social media, from Digg to Twitter and beyond.”

The Poynter Institute’s Joe Grimm says with so many experienced journalists competing for fewer and fewer jobs, the folks doing the hiring want that “something extra,” and the newsers who have it get the gigs:  “Increasingly, recruiters are looking for that X factor, X being for extra. What can you do in addition to your base skills? Can you make a slideshow, gather audio, shoot video? Can you help us grow?”

Mike Elgan:  Loves Twitter, Hates "Bad TV News"

Mike Elgan: Loves Twitter, Hates "Bad TV News"

And then there’s Mike Elgan’s argument:  social media, more and more, does news better than old media do:  “Almost every day, I take a break or two from my PC, where I’m constantly monitoring social media, and I check out CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news or, if it’s the right time of day, the network news on ABC, CBS and NBC. I’m always appalled by what I see on TV news. It’s pathetic.”

Elgan says local and cable newsers are trying social media, but not in ways that take advantage of the immediacy and power of the emerging social media platforms.  It’s worth a read.  And one more argument to at least go and get on Twitter.  With the other guy Twittering his brains out making connections and finding stories, you’re truly hurting yourself by sitting on the sidelines.

But hey.  Use your best judgment.


Filed under Social Media

I Give You a Hot Tip, You Flatter Me in Public: That Something You Might Be Interested In?

Seen This Before? If Not, It's Time to Get On the Twitter Stick

As a career reporter, I’m just not in the habit of surrendering information except in the form of stories, hopefully the kind that grab viewers’ attention, and send assignment editors and managers at competing stations into fits of swearing and desk-kicking as their run to their Nextels to scream at their reporters, asking why they didn’t get what I just had.  (Happens mostly in dreams, but it’s still a nice feeling)

At any rate, I’m willing to reveal an insider’s goldmine to all you local newsers who, maybe like me, agonize about the morning meeting and the inevitable glare of the news director with his, “and what’ve you got to offer today?”  Lately, I’ve had more to bring to the table.  And I’m going to tell you how I’ve done it.  And yeah, snarky tech-resisters, it involves Twitter.  So if you can’t handle that, just scroll on down and look at the pretty pictures of news choppers.

But before I go into detail, there’s a catch.  I’m going to want something in return.  So, to quote Bob Ryan on HBO’s “Entourage,” is that something you might be interested in?  If so, read on.

On Monday nights, for the Twitterati who find themselves suddenly putting ampersands before people’s names out of Twitter habit, the gathering known as #journchat has become a crowded, rowdy, and deeply informative experience.  Journalists, PR pros, and bloggers gather in on Twitter to ask questions of each other–to say, in essense, hey, give me hand here, what are YOU people all about?  The Q&A brings down walls and leads to a lot of common ground, funny lines, and–get this–story ideas.

Is That Something You Might Be Interested In?

"Is That Something You Might Be Interested In?"

If you’ve ever read a press release (and we all have) and wondered, “who the hell writes this crap,” well, an hour or two talking free-form and no-holds-barred with PRs can be revealing.  Many of them just don’t know what journos want or need.  You like phone calls or emails?  I recently griped about the hit-every-email-in-box-in-the-damn-newsroom syndrome with a “just between you and me” story pitch.  You go in, you say, “hey, I heard from somebody…” and stop when the other reporters smirk and eventually say in unison, “we got that email too.”  FAIL.

Anyway, my advice to you:  get on the Twitter, and check it out. (And while you’re there, don’t forget to follow me:

Now.  Payback.  Next Monday, #journchat’s taking nominees for a guest moderator.  I think it’s time a local newser took the helm for a night, and with your help, I.  Can.  Be.  That.  Man.  All I ask?  Comment on this post and let the world know why I’m (just talking points here–you know, to guide your thinking) witty, smart, fair, and profoundly gifted at anticipating the changes roiling the world of local tv news–and PR.  Or something like that.

The deadline is Wednesday.  A raft of rave comments will–hopefully–show a groundswell of support for me as the next moderator du jour.  So, you know, throw a guy a bone.  If you want.  I’d appreciate it.  And even if you don’t, come join #journchat next Monday and learn some new stuff about PR, tv news, blogging and social media that might help you keep your job for another week or so.

So.  Tell me.  Is that something you might be interested in?


Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

Sure, Rick Does It, But Should You? Local News Anchors, Reporters and Twitter

CNN’s Rick Sanchez recently Twittered his way through knee surgery: “The IV is in!” Just one more way the ex-WSVN/Miami anchor has carved a unique niche for himself as the most Twittering of TV types. But he’s hardly the only one.

Last night I had a chat with a reporter in Kansas Twittering his way through a small town city council meeting. And yes, they were tweeting back in rural Kansas. The question is, are you? Or, as Mike Elgan writes in NetworkWorld: should you? “Is it OK for reporters and editors to tweet live events? By doing so, the news is already out there by the time colleagues get out of the event and back to their laptops. Is that fair?”

Take a moment and check out Twitter if you haven’t already. Odds are one of the stations in your market has a Twitter account, and uses it to create a unique connection between viewer, station, and in many cases, talent. Reporters tweet about the various behind-the-scenes screwups that befall us each and every day, and apparently, some Twittering viewers love that stuff.

I’ve seen other anchors tweeting out some pretty lame stuff: “Off to anchor the news at 5! Watch me on Action News 7!” Yay. Neat. Un-follow.

Rick Sanchez/CNN

Rick Sanchez/CNN

And Elgin’s no fan of on-set, in-show Twittering, a la Rick Sanchez.  “CNN has gone Twitter-mad, with several anchors featuring Twitter answers on screen, including and especially Rick Sanchez . I even saw CNN promote an upcoming segment by showing the anchor typing a question into the Twitter “What are you doing?” box in real time.  Integrating Twitter into TV news was novel at first, but do viewers really want to turn on the TV to watch the news anchor using another medium?”

How are you using Twitter? And–I hate to even bring this up for fear of giving up my advantage–but are you, as I am, getting stories through Twitter? (it’s a goldmine) Share your experiences.

Read Mike Elgan’s take here.

UPDATE:  An interesting take today from Steve Rubel’s MicroPersuasion:  “The upshot is that today it’s impossible to draw a line between social media and traditional media – it’s all one.”  Read the entire post here.


Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

WABC’s N.J. Burkett Puts On a Digital Display of Multimedia Reporting Power

WABCs N.J. Burkett

WABC's N.J. Burkett

Tireless and talended WABC/NYC reporter N.J. Burkett’s currently on assignment in the Middle East, a place he’s been before, and while it’s great to see New York reporters still traveling to cover the big Gaza story, Channel 7’s taking it a step farther, with Burkett Twittering throughout the day, giving “followers” a sense of what it’s like to be in the war zone covering the story–and, of course, driving those people to WABC’s newscasts later in the day.

Richard Huff at the New York Daily News has the story today, quoting from Burkett’s Tweets:  “Things are changing – packing up our operation and moving out of southern Israel,” Burkett wrote at one point Thursday. “New missiles in the north – scrambling to get there.”

Later, Huff quotes Burkett describing the shelling in vivid detail–and creating interest among viewers in a way no news tease probably could:  “That missile strike was bizarre,” Burkett wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “Smashed through the cement roof, then through second floor and into the kitchen. You’ll see it tonight.”

If your station’s not employing Twitter, you’re missing something.  Read Richard Huff’s piece in the Daily News here.

UPDATE 12:15 PM EST:  Columbia J-School is holding a live phone/web chat about Twitter as a reporting tool for journalists.  Get info on joining the chat here.  If you miss it, you can listen in later via blogtalkradio.


Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

Not Yet Clear on Twitter? Read This…

logo_npr_125NPR’s Corey Flintoff (with an assist from NPR’s social media guru Andy Carvin) discuss the uses of social media in reporting on the current crisis in Gaza.  This is great reading for anyone who’s still trying to figure out how social media are working their way into mainstream reporting.  And it’s not just journalists using social media, it’s governments as well.

Once you’re convinced, get yourself on Twitter, and add @standupkid.  (Andy Carvin’s also there @acarvin)

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Filed under Social Media