Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Death of a Newscast?

This question caught my attention on the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)' Website. At first, I thought it was a story about a local newscast that was going away. When I clicked on Deb Wenger's article, I found it was a fresh piece (just posted this month) from a colleague at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Mass Communications about a subject near and dear to my heart-- local TV news.

She interviewed Terry Heaton of Audience Research & Development (AR&D), a consultant for dozens of local TV stations. In fact, AR&D was the consultant at one of stations where I produced local news more tha 10 years ago.

The thesis of the articlce is that if 28 percent of the coveted 18-49 demographic cite the Internet as the place they get their local news, the over-the-air, appointment-style local newscast is becoming a dinosaur.

I'm not sure that's a surprise. TV newscasts, like their legacy media cohort, the newspaper, have become somewhat irrelevant to millions of Americans.

The context for this article is the relatively new SPJ Journalism Education web blog.

The message in the article was aimed at educators, many of whom are still stuck in training print journalists and broadcast journalists.

I think Terry is right! (Did I say that about a consultant??) But, the real question is how do we convince our colleagues in journalism education circles that this is the case.

So the big news (besides the fact I agree with a consultant) is that local broadcast journalists have to think beyond the shows they produce, anchor or report for each day.

That's the old way of thinking about local news.

This is kind of line with the current issue of the RTNDA Communicator, which focuses on survival strategies for the 24/7 newsroom.


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