It seems as though my opinion that viewership has declined for local news has struck a nerve. I’m somewhat surprised at some of the childish responses (name calling, finger-pointing) but I’m not surprised at the overall reaction.
The response to recent research that shows a steady decline in local news viewership is consistent to the reaction many tv stations have had for more than 5 years. You can sum up the response from some tv people as “nuh uh” and “blow it out your ear!”
Instead of listening to those viewer opinions (and that’s all I am now, a viewer) many in the tv news business shrug off the data and the research and the comments and continue down the same road.
Yes, the internet is stealing viewers. No, they’re not coming back. Yes, they’re quite satisfied with tuning into local tv news only when a) they happen to remember it’s on, b) they know there’s a real story they want to follow, c) it’s election night, d) there’s bad weather.
Local viewership will decline further when a) more people get broadband internet service, b) stations put all of their news online, c) local video bloggers begin covering stories and putting them on local community websites.
As this trend continues, fewer advertisers will spend their money on overpriced 30-second spots that run in newscasts. Rates will be cut, free production will be offered. As revenue dwindles, newsroom staffs will be either be cut or stations will offer lower salaries to younger and less-experienced reporters.
In my own job search in the past year I’ve talked salary with more than a half-dozen stations; none were offering salaries comparable to what I was making 10 years ago. And no, these were not in small markets.
I have not been critical of any one station. I have not criticized the ability or character of any reporter. It’s true I’ve not said anything positive about one particular station because I don’t watch that station. In the past 12 months I’ve seen exactly one story (the burglar series debut) and I only offered my opinion of that story because it was unique in that both stations did the same exact story on the same exact night. I’ve never known for that to happen in any market.
That said, I would like to add that if you choose to use the comments on my blog to question someone’s character or call them a name, I will remove it.
And as for those who’ve taken such great offense to my comments: what is it some tv people like to say “if you don’t like what you see…change the channel”?