Tuesday, April 24, 2007
news to me
Dave Barry did this great piece in his book "Dave Barry's Money Secrets" about how the Press is worried that young people dont read newspapers, and so keep making changes that tend to alienate their current readers in order draw in those younger viewers. It never works, of course, because, as Barry points out, young people dont read newspapers.
Talk about television news strikes me as being a lot like that. Apparently, people just dont watch TV news as much as they used to, despite the almost unbelievable surfeit of it available. So how do broadcasters respond? They try different tricks to try and lure those lost watchers back. Did they ever stop and think that maybe these lost viewers have left because of the tricks, and no bells or whistles will ever bring them back because what they really want is straight news.
I listen to NPR, at least when they're not spending half their airtime raising funds, and I cant think of anyplace else, at least not in television, where you can get that kind of coverage. Considering how much actually goes on across the planet, why is it that all they seem to be able to report on is white house press feeds, corporate press releases, and celebrity lifestyles, interspersed with endless, yet uninformative, "breaking" stories.
So here's my suggestion: People really do want to see news on their news shows. Maybe not all of the people, all of the time, but at any given time, there is somebody who wants news. Not to be entertained, not to wait "breathlessly" while something might (but doesnt) happen, but real, honest-to-god, informative news. So to some news organisation out there, why dont you try giving us information in our news, and only information. You might find that even though you wont draw the big numbers at first, you will become the source of real news that people trust, and more importantly, refer to when citing news stories, which will lead to more viewers, who will appreciate the information. Hire reporters, give them research money, replace filler and puff pieces (even NPR's puff pieces are informative), but most important, give us news. Because you can do all sorts of promotions, play all sorts of games, and talk about celebrities all you want, but it wont increase your news ratings, because it's not news, and people want to see the news on their news shows.
Try it, just try it. You'll get a ton of respect, and you might, eventually, make a lot of money.
Think of it as your Corvette. Corvettes dont make GM any money, but they're a great cachet for respect (or were until GM blew their respect elsewhere). Make news programming your corvette. Eventually, somebody's going to fill that niche, and when they do, they'll get all the respect, which they'll parlay into money, and you'll be scrambling to catch up.