E.W. Scripps President-CEO Adam Symson has laid out a bold way forward for local TV news to reengage with substance, backing it with investments and more reporters. Will the market let him stay on that path?
ViacomCBS — now Paramount — President-CEO Bob Bakish’s two-and-a-half-hour presentation on Tuesday was heavy on talk of streaming but lacking any noticeable discussion of CBS News. Could this foreshadow the company getting out of the news business?
Under well-deserved pressure from the Video Advertising Bureau and the Media Rating Council — not to mention Discovery’s David Zaslav — Nielsen is facing a potentially existential moment. It would do well not to revert to its usual defensive crouch and, instead, engage in a straightforward and transparent dialogue with its clients.
Journalism is becoming a steadily more dangerous profession around the world, including in the United States. The year 2020, with its global pandemic and widespread social unrest, continued the trend. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual survey, more journalists were in prison on Dec. 1 — 274 — than in any previous year.
I was struck this week by two inside-baseball journalism stories following Monday’s Mueller investigation bombshells that spoke, tangentially but notably, to what I have often said about a main obstacle in our industry’s ability to regain the trust of the public: The conflation in many information consumers’ minds between responsible journalism and the opinion media.
New York University Professor Jay Rosen about how journalists can handle polarization when covering politics: “Instead of trying to stay in the middle between polarized extremes and avoid criticism, political journalists and their bosses could recognize that there is no escape from charges of bias because these charges are just a further aspect of polarization.”
The Seattle Times editorializes: “Lax FCC enforcement makes a mockery of regulatory intent to preserve and promote competition, localism and diversity of viewpoints in local TV news. Case in point: Sinclair Broadcast Group’s ownership of KOMO Seattle.”
The daily deals arena may have had some well-publicized knockouts lately, including the firing of Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason, but that doesn’t mean that deals don’t hold a wealth of opportunities for local media. Matt Coen (pictured), president and co-founder of Second Street: “Local media companies are well positioned to own a large piece of the deals market thanks to their unique assets of loyal audiences and established brands, local sales forces and multimedia promotional reach. Today, it has become apparent that local media companies enjoy another key advantage over pureplays: economies of scale.”
Terry Heaton: “Local broadcasting is in the midst of a perfect storm with only two opportunities for tomorrow: a successful MDTV strategy with the digital broadcasting chip in smartphones, and figuring out how to monetize local unbundled, on-demand content. Let’s be real; the day is coming when program makers will distribute their stuff directly to consumers and share money with no network, and we’ve got to be ready.”