Local TV stations have long promoting their news and other programming to audiences. But how well have they marketed their brands? How well are they positioning their programming in a media environment increasingly filled with targeted channels and streaming services? What do leading media industry marketers suggest TV stations do to enhance their marketing?
Story producers, most of whom are freelancers without union protections, are leaned on for many of the unheralded editing tasks on unscripted formats — an increasingly unsustainable setup.
In my experience, panel discussions oversimplify, provoke outrage, and allow unchecked opinion to dominate at the expense of fact-based reporting. But in reporting the issue, I found there are more nuanced and dangerous reasons that the format dominates the airwaves.
The first official words by President Biden’s spokeswoman included truth and transparency. Wednesday night’s session with reporters, the first of the Biden administration, was so normal — so weirdly normal — that you could be forgiven for thinking that you had mistakenly put on an old episode of The West Wing. This return to norms is wonderfully welcome after the horrors of the past four years. It’s also potentially dangerous.
Companies need to be aware of online compliance regulations that could trip up media businesses looking to build online revenues.
The virtual, but still vital, NATPE that took place this week occasions a look back to its origins from early days of hotel suites to a carnival-like heyday packed with stars.
Dick Lippin, a veteran communications executive, offers perspective on how the entertainment industry can help the nation rebound from the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s time to stop fueling President Trump’s lie that the election was rigged, and broadcast needs to play an important role in doing so. The NAB must cut off support to the lie’s congressional enablers, talk radio must sever ties with hosts fueling the lie and TV stations need unequivocal language to characterize it for what it is.
Oliver Darcy: “As we cover D.C. politics and the fallout from last week’s attack, we should not forget that thousands of Americans continue to lose their lives each day to this ruthless virus. And while the vaccine rollout is gradually improving, the situation right now is, frankly, very alarming and urgent.”
Joe Mancini: To analyze critical audience data collected via their OTT services, media companies should call on “citizen data scientists” using powerful AI software to crunch data and isolate trends.
Margaret Sullivan: “What’s happened in the journalism sphere is complicated. Tragically, crucial sources of local news have withered, while the toxic media of the radical right thrives. The reality-based national press, though flawed and stuck for too long in outdated conventions, has managed to do its job — with dedication and with bravery, given the dangers created by Trump’s antipathy to what he calls ‘the enemy of the people.’ ”
NAB President Gordon Smith: “The work of the press to keep the American public informed during these dark times has been admirable, valuable and — because of an unacceptable and alarming lack of information provided by law enforcement officials — necessary. It is imperative that law enforcement not only address the American people about the possibility of danger in the days ahead, but also provide security briefings to news media to help keep journalists safe while reporting from the field.”
Jon Allsop: “The most immediate answer to both these accountability questions is the same: to never forget what happened on [Jan. 6], and to use it as a point of no return. That means no more squeamishness about calling nasty truths—racism, lies, coups—what they are; no more bothsidesism; no more optics chatter; no more blinkered American exceptionalism.”
He may desperately need his own platform now that he’s been exiled from Twitter, but it’s going to cost him more than he’s got.
There are no winners on the local front when it comes to station blackouts, but stations can maintain goodwill by answering irate viewers’ calls, keeping clients informed and calling viewers when carriage is restored.
Margaret Sullivan: “Fair and balanced” was the original Fox News lie, one of the rotten planks that built the foundation for Wednesday’s democratic disaster. In the Trump era, the network — now out of favor for not being quite as shameless as the president demands — was his best friend and promoter. So to put it bluntly: The mob that stormed and desecrated the Capitol on Wednesday could not have existed in a country that hadn’t been radicalized by the likes of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and swayed by biased news coverage.
With the CTV space growing ever more crowded, Discovery+ launched with a big bet that there’s room for “passing the day” programming on streaming. It’s banking on loyal subs to cut the cord, capturing international audiences and ad-supported tiers and commerce for the win.
The coronavirus isn’t the only reason that modern day life has moved online, but it the most important reason behind the speed of the overwhelming shift in lifestyle. COVID-19 pushed technology and media to accelerate what was already happening, and that’s why I’ve made these predictions now. I will leave them without supporting documentation, as I prefer them to be conversation starters. Agree or disagree as you will, but please, add to the list.
Educators might not be teaching civics as well as they used to in middle and high school, but cable TV is doing a good job of it. Viewers are getting a firsthand lesson this week with coverage of Tuesday’s Senate runoff vote in Georgia and the planned challenge Wednesday to the certification of Joe Biden as president. And some mainstream cable channels like MSNBC and CNN have been doing an outstanding job teaching, as well as covering, the news by explaining the Constitution and how government is supposed to work — something too few Americans seem to understand these days.
Michael Ausiello: “While I appreciate the fact that Sony Pictures Television prolonged the inevitable by scheduling two weeks of curated reruns over the holidays (Trebek’s last airdate was originally slated for Dec. 25), I now find myself wishing and hoping for another continuance.”
David Zurawik: “A boy can hope. On the eve of a new year and at the end of one of the most challenging ones I have faced in decades of media coverage, here are some of my best hopes for media in 2021 locally and nationally.”
‘Tis the season for making resolutions and setting goals for the New Year. It’s the perfect time for broadcast meteorologists to re-evaluate their weather coverage on-air, online and on social media. Those are the three general outlets TV station weather teams cover. Each should have a unique approach: the same essential message but different techniques.
As this year’s political windfall rolls into a lean recovery year, broadcasters should target Big Tech with a BMI-like model and look to innovations like Graham Media’s membership scheme for some much-needed revenue diversification.
Despite some flickers of good news, local journalism remains in a state of emergency. Increasingly under the control of corporate chains backed by private equity firms, far too many American newsrooms are hemorrhaging staff. Fifty-five news outlets have closed for good since the pandemic began — and that’s on top of more than 2,000 newspapers that have folded since 2004. Thousands of local journalists have been fired or furloughed.
The NBC Nightly News anchor frequently ends his broadcasts now with commentaries, an unusual departure for network evening newscasts that have more than a half century’s track record of playing it straight. Holt’s essays, many of them pleas for unity in troubled times, can seem mild to viewers used to the rhetorical warfare of cable news. He says he’s filling a need for voices of empathy in public life.
The disruption that defines 2020 seems to extend into every corner of our professional and personal lives. It’s even affecting the tax calculations and reporting responsibilities for media businesses’ accounting and financial professionals.
Margaret Sullivan: The media should not allow Donald Trump “to become a self-styled president in exile, the golf-cart version of Napoleon on Elba. Do not set up a Mar-a-Lago bureau. Don’t have entire reporting beats dedicated to what he and his family members are up to. And for God’s sake, stop writing about his unhinged tweets.”
As a global pandemic constrained our boundaries to the four walls of our houses and the four corners of our devices, screens became our main conduits to let the outside in.
A down year is a good time to be a hero since corporate expectations are low and any successes are magnified. But GMs need to face the situation head on, have the guts to make tough operating decisions and hold the line on sales rates, even when there’s pressure to cut them.
Jennifer Rubin: The media should consider a simple approach to interviewing a Republican official or candidate. First ask, ‘Do you recognize Joe Biden won and that there is zero evidence of fraud that could have changed the result?’ If the answer is no, inform the audience this is delusional and send the guest home.
Any football fan looking forward to seeing the San Francisco 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals the day after Christmas will have limited options to do so. In fact, there’s only going to be one way to watch that particular game. It’s going to be aired only via Amazon’s Prime TV, or Amazon’s property Twitch. No network broadcast or even subscription-based service will be offering it. The nation’s cable television providers need to respond to the advent of streaming sports programming — and do it soon.
Margaret Sullivan: “For a long time, Fox News has ruled the cable-news roost. With its rabidly right-wing prime-time hosts and news shows that too often gave a showcase to crackpot ideas, it had a formula that worked beautifully — for ratings, and profits, if not for democracy. But now, with the political tectonic plates shifting, Fox is feeling some new pressure.”
With in-studio interviews still indefinitely sidelined during the pandemic, making a few adjustments to at-home setups — including external camera and mics and optimizing lighting and internet connections — can make all the difference in production quality.
Software was beneath all of this pandemic year’s significant innovations in TV’s remote production. The industry needs to accept and embrace its new essential role.
The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it.
The pandemic, coupled with racial and civil unrest, has devastated businesses and affected their advertising spend. When it comes to extending credit to, and collecting from, advertisers affected by this volatility, consider “thoughtfulness and creativity.”
Everybody’s a media critic these days — and Barack Obama is an astute one. But for those who remember certain aspects of his presidency, he’s got a bit of a credibility problem.