Tag Archives: local news

A Jolt of Digital Inspiration: LocalNewser’s On the Links

OntheLinksYep, we love us our links.

Too much going on right now in this scary, thrilling time to write about all of it myself. So I’ll hit the links that I find worthy of recommending to you. Unlike other link lineups, you won’t be finding a list of stories about a mid-market anchor signing off or a weatherman who got a DUI.

I’d like to bring you a collection of stories that can spur some ideas–get your pulse pumping at the thought of the next big thing and how you can be right in the thick of it.

We can sit here and bitch about the old media companies and their cost-cutting and soul-crushing ways, or we can start turning our attention to what will be replacing those companies.  It’s an innovation revolution out there, don’t miss it!

Times are tough for newspaper and broadcast companies.  But times are intensely exciting for journalists.

On the Links, you’ll find some inspiration, and food for thought.

Brian Stelter at the Times has a great read today on how journalism rules are challenged by Twitter-reporting and iReport vide0 posts:  Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran.

BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis is working a CUNY project aimed at supporting, studying, and helping spread hyperlocal news projects across the country.  They’re looking for your input on what works, and what doesn’t:  Help Us Help Hyperlocal News.

Julie Posetti at MediaShift also takes up the important questions about Twitter that have grown out of the Iran story, and she’s interviewed journalists worldwide to determine how journos and news operations are using the Tweet: Rules of Engagement for Journalists on Twitter.

The AP’s Michael Liedtke reports a web news startup, Journalism Online, predicts it will hit a target of one in ten users paying for content: News Startup Expects 10 Percent of Web Readers to Pay.

See a good story?  Send a link:  mark@standupkid.com

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Filed under Local News 2.0

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.

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Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

Local TV Stations: The Money Printing Press is Broken. Can Stations Build a New One?

Will News on the iPhone Save Us?

Will News on the iPhone Save Us?


It’s an accepted truism in TV that local stations, as long as there have been local stations, have been money-making machines.  At least, until recently, when the gears jammed, the networks stopped being station groups’ BFFs, audiences started sampling other sources for news, and even the uber-dependable local advertisers took their Buick dealer dollars and shoved ’em under the mattress.

Scary times.  Local newsers are out of work, wondering if stations will ever field the local news benches that we all grew up expecting.  The financial model that kept local news afloat-and profitable-seems to have fallen apart.  Is that a temporary reaction to the recession, or a sign that things are evolving, as they have been for years in the newspaper biz?

Slate makes a compelling argument that debating the financial model misses the point:  “unlike most businesses, serious journalism has seldom been about the straightforward pursuit of profit. Nearly all of the most important journalistic institutions in the free world are hybrids of one form or another—for-profit but underwritten by generous owners or other profitable businesses; not-for-profit yet entrepreneurial; co-operative; or government-subsidized,” writes Jacob Weisberg.

But hold on there, JW.  What about the reassuring words we’ve been hearing from our news directors, GMs, and station group suits:  “the web will save us!  serve the web!”  (You know, just like weekend morning news did).  Well, Weisberg points to the past:  “In times of yore, the best American newspapers worked like this: Public-spirited families with names like Sulzberger, Bancroft, Chandler, and Graham (the owners of Newsweek, Slate, and the Washington Post) built highly profitable businesses by becoming dominant information sources in major local markets.”

Graham and Bradlee:  Money, Talent and History-Making Journalism

Graham and Bradlee: Money, Talent and History-Making Journalism

Weisberg argues that it was the media barons whose bankrolls made things work, not a successful financial model, and that, for papers at least–and perhaps local tv newsers as well, the magic formula that saves us all may not be there either:  “With the decline of their traditional revenue sources, capitalists in the news business are having to become even more creative. But they won’t find the grail of a new economic model for journalism—because there wasn’t an old one.”

What’s your take, local newsers?  Is the web and all its multi-platform potential a path to profitability?  Was giving news away for free a mistake?  Would anyone pay for the waterskiing squirrels we’ve been feeding them for years anyway?  Will we all end up working for web-based, advertiser supported and charitably-endowed hybrids that let us do worthwhile reporting at moderate, but not princely pay?

Do tell.

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Filed under Local News 2.0

Local Sports: Key Component of Staying Local and Relevant? Or First to Throw Overboard? (Both?)

Lets Go to the Videotape!

"Let's Go to the Videotape!"

Of all the things that have stayed with me about growing up watching local TV news, two things stand out: the evolution of WCBS/NY’s “2” logo over the years, and the time I got to sit in Warner Wolf’s chair on the Channel 2 News set.  As a kid in Connecticut watching New York news, I won’t ever forget Beutel and Grimsby and the Cool Hand Luke music;  I won’t forget Jim Jensen, Chuck or Sue.  But for some reason, it’s Warner Wolf who I think was the first true “character” that made watching the 6 o’clock news something I would actually talk about at school the next day, what with his trademark style and “let’s go to the videotape!”

Today, there aren’t many wise young sportscasters expecting to be Warner Wolf one day.  Sure, you don’t “go to the videotape” anymore, but more importantly, sports has become the go-to source for deep-sixing talent and freeing up cash at struggling stations from coast to coast. WCBS, Wolf’s old station and the one I watched as a kid, (Anybody remember “NewsBreaker Territory?”) recently fired its main sports anchor, Ducis Rogers, and the morning guy, John Discepolo.  Sports, struggling for air time, is down to one lone anchor/reporter.

New York still has Len Berman, but many markets may do away with local sports altogether. Managers claim there’s no need, since true sports fans get their info from ESPN, or regional sports nets.  As Stacey Brown writes in the Scranton Times-Tribune, “Nightly sports reporting and local news appear to be headed for a divorce.”  

WOLF/Scrantons FOX 56

WOLF/Scranton's FOX 56

“It is a shame you don’t see more local sports during the newscasts,” Jon Cadman told Brown.  Cadman’s GM at (ah, irony) WOLF-TV in Scranton.  He says costs are just too high, and something’s gotta give.  So forget about seeing your kid’s high school touchdown run on Channel 16.  Maybe it’ll make SportsCenter.

In my own newsroom yesterday, as the sports folk were busy writing scripts, producing their ever-shrinking six o’clock sportscast, I heard the bellowing boom of the Asst. News Director:  “Sports is dead!”  It happens a lot.  And as a newsguy, I get it–to a point.  When news breaks, you’d expect weather and sports to give.  But in this environment of cutbacks and layoffs, is killing sports altogether the next step?  And does that, in a sense, take away one more thing that sets local news apart?  

I’ve worked in some sports-crazy cities, especially in the South, and let me tell you, there’s hardly a bond as strong as that between sports fan and sports talent.  When they show up at the high school football game on a Friday night, that’s the kind of thing that earns viewer loyalty. (Remember the Friday night football shows where sportsteams would actually use the station helicopter to fly around to as many games as possible?  Bringing not only a camera to get the game on TV that night, but the chopper to fly the colors in front of a packed stadium:  “Wow, Channel 5 ROCKS!”)

But even in small town Scranton, sports is on life support.  And in big city, sports-crazed New York, calling it a sports “department” seems like a bit of a stretch.  Are we turning away viewers to save a few dollars?  Or do the viewers really not care anymore–have they truly moved on?

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Latest Layoffs: Gutting a Once Great Station; NBC New York Cuts 3 More

Amazing.  In the same week when WNBC reminds viewers that it actually can compete on the big story, the station waits until Friday to bury a far more telling news item:  three more experienced New York vets cut at the “content center.”  The Daily News’ Richard Huff broke the story overnight on nydailynews.com: 

“A day after WNBC/Ch. 4 scooped its rivals in covering the Hudson River plane crash, the station fired three of its most familiar names.

Market veterans Jay DeDapper, Kendra Farn and Carol Anne Riddell were let go Friday.

“Their contracts were not renewed,” said a station spokeswoman.

They are the latest in a long string of on-air layoffs for the once dominant station, which in recent years has seen its news ratings fall. ”

DeDapper, a veteran New York City political reporter, now apparently out of a job at NBC’s flagship just hours before one of the biggest political stories of our lifetime.  Who will “NBC New York” have in Washington?  Who will it have in Brooklyn?  Who will it have who can even remember what WNBC once was?  Chuck, Sue,… and who?

Jay DeDapper/WNBC

Jay DeDapper/WNBC

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“Miracle on Hudson:” WNBC Leads Local Newsers with Story

03*WNBC/NYC, often criticized in recent years for falling behind on breaking news (“where’s 4?”) and still adjusting to its new evolution into a “content center,” delivered old-school style when the big breaker hit the river Thursday afternoon.  “Ch. 4 was first on with a report of the crash, and had the first footage from the scene. The others followed shortly,” reports Richard Huff in the Daily News.

If you’ve got a take on the NYC local newsers’ performance on the story, please share it.

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