Another interesting entry from Terry Heaton’s Pomo Blog.
If you’re not reading Terry’s blog, and you’re currently in the television news business, you’re missing out on something you’ll never hear in the newsroom.
Terry has already predicted that 2005 will be a very tough year for people in local news. Layoffs, firings, hiring more and more youngsters with little experience but for far less pay. The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media” report also shows that the viewing public has grown tired of local news and doesn’t give it high ratings for being trustworthy.
One bit of good news for local stations is that morning news programs have seen an increase in viewers. I’ve thought for years that morning news is the one broadcast that can capitalize on the loss of viewers in the 6 and 10pm timeslots. If viewers are too busy to watch at night, they might choose to only watch the morning news. They get news from countless sources during the day, but to find what’s happened overnight, they may be inclined to tune in, rather than log on.
But local tv stations should concentrate on putting more resources on those morning shows. I’m not talking about adding a live reporter in the field, but actually hire producers and writers and anchors who can make the morning shows worth watching for more than a few minutes.
I mentioned FOX 6 in Birmingham earlier this week. That station has invested in it’s morning show by putting anchors together who actually get along with each other! They’ve placed anchors, reporters and a weatherman who are real people who just happen to be working in local news.
If the anchors get along and actually speak to each other during the commercial breaks and after the show is over, viewers pick up on their relationship and find they are much more enjoyable to watch. FOX6’s anchors actually seem to like each other. They can joke between stories and talk like regular people. You won’t find that at some Memphis stations.
Viewers are highly perceptive when it comes to on-air anchors. They can tell who’s a nice guy and a friendly girl. They can tell by their body language if they can’t stand each other. Watch the anchors the next time they toss to break, see how many of them immediately look down at their scripts (but manage to keep the tv smile). FOX6 anchors sometimes keep talking to each other, even as the commercial begins.
Morning shows are where it’s at. But only if there’s a little bit of fun to be found in the midst of the hard news. If it’s only headline news, viewers will stay for a few minutes.
Of course, that’s just my opinion.