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.
David Zurawik: Confusion over statements from the current administration “is why I have come to so value the medical doctors and public health experts like Dr. Vin Gupta on MSNBC and Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Leana Wen on CNN. I have watched hundreds of appearances by them on cable TV the last eight months and have found their analyses and advice consistently informed by science and always easy to understand.”
James Poniewozik: For years, we’ve been living inside a story defined by Donald Trump’s reality-TV worldview. America finally changed the channel.
At its essence, Trebek’s Jeopardy was a nightly recognition of intelligence and competence, and there were times when the show seemed to be one of the last places where it’s a wonderful thing to be a know-it-all — where broad, general knowledge is something to be celebrated rather than scorned or resented. Above, a shrine to Trebek near his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Monday, Nov. 9.
Over the past four or five years, I’ve been sharply critical of the media, including that subset I like to call the “reality-based press.” My continuing complaint has been that mainstream journalism never quite figured out how to cover President Trump, the master of distraction and insult who craved media attention and knew exactly how to get it, regardless of what it meant for the good of the nation. The mainstream media, however flawed, has managed to tell us who Trump is. And although I’ve had my doubts at times about the effectiveness of fact-checking, that exhausting work has been invaluable, too. Without the reality-based press, whatever its flaws and shortcomings, we would be utterly lost.
A political windfall benefited station groups after COVID’s ravages, and there’s every reason to see political remaining healthy for many cycles to come. The reason? Leading local newscasts still have a close and coveted relationship with their loyal viewers.
Broadcast playout continues to have a mix of installation types even as the pandemic accelerates change. Broadcasters’ size, reach, audience and operational goals must all be considered to chart the best course.
The time to apply for trademark registration for a “new podcast, radio interview show, video game, online magazine or mobile app” is when the product is still in the development stage by filing an intent-to-use or ITU.
Caroline Framke: “Having the wherewithal to take a beat and take stock of an unfolding situation with appropriate caution should be common practice. But patience is not a virtue for cable news, which runs on a steady diet of urgency and panic. Sometimes, stories really do warrant that combination. But it’s become harder and harder to discern which, since cable tends to present every single one at the same hysterical fever pitch.”
As the returns came in, the networks scrambled to cover twists that were both shocking and unsurprising.
y early morning Wednesday, there was a lot that millions of anxious Americans didn’t know. Mainly, they didn’t know who the president-elect is. That, in itself, wasn’t unexpected, nor is it terrible. But after consuming hours of news on Tuesday night, and observing the election results thus far, there are a few things that we can be certain of.
At WTVT, Fox’s Tampa, Fla., O&O, SVP and GM Jeff Maloney has been navigating through an unprecedented time. His market — showered in attention by the presidential campaigns, roiled by the pandemic and buoyed by major news in local sports — has been an epicenter of news while facing dramatic challenges.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.): “As a former radio station owner in rural Oregon, I know well that our local broadcasters are often Americans’ primary source of local news, particularly in rural areas. To ensure every American has an opportunity to be served content relevant for all identities, Congress must act to bring our media ownership laws into the 21st century, create policies to incentivize new entrants into the marketplace, and help lift voices of underrepresented individuals by promoting diversity where it matters most: ownership.”
Having to muzzle the president to salvage a debate is nothing to brag about. But at least it worked.
A good working relationship between the media and the FAA should serve both parties well as specifications are developed. There’s no question that both groups are committed to and concerned for aviation safety. “Given the news media’s support of the overall adoption of a remote ID regime, it is highly likely that the parties will be able to come to accommodations in the final rules,” says attorney M. Anne Swanson.
Alan Wolk: How is the industry going to handle this new interim period, where traditional pay TV is far from dead, but streaming is rapidly growing an audience?
Margaret Sullivan: “Savannah Guthrie brought her A game to last week’s NBC town hall with President Trump. As Thursday’s final debate between Trump and Joe Biden approaches, Guthrie’s NBC colleague, White House correspondent Kristen Welker, needs to have the best night of her career, too — but in a very different way. To make this debate something that serves the public interest rather than being the disastrous circus that it could be, she needs to be in control.”