I was reading an article about a “new model” for online sports content. It had three main points which are key to any media: “Local is Still King, Sources Matter Less and Breaking News is a Commodity.”
The easy “filler” material is all online and on my phone (stock prices, farm markets, weather, national sports scores and highlights, traffic reports). So why is local news still hanging on? I recorded a local 6:00 pm broadcast a week ago and dissected the content. So here is the breakdown:
- Commercials……….11 minutes (36%)
- News………………….8.5 minutes (26%)
- Weather………………4.5 minutes (15%)
- Opens/teases……….4 minutes (13%)
- Sports…………………3 minutes (10%)
I knew most of the news prior to the newscast: national news is e-mailed to me by New York Times; Smartphone updates my weather; the one-minute stock report is updated instantly on my MyYahoo page (with my stocks, not general interest stocks); and the national sports scores are on my desktop. Not much left.
Even typical “teases” (the anchors telling you what is coming up next) are stuck in the past. The other day while watching the ABC morning show, I was frustrated that they kept ”teasing” a funny video. Instead of waiting to see it, I googled it and watched it before the live broadcast could show it. Gone like a horse-drawn carriage.
News appetite is changing. From my living room, it is easy to see that local news needs:
- More local stories.
- More local people (fewer official spokespeople)
- Shorter stories
- Less weather. 4.5 minutes on an 80-degree day is a waste
- Less promo hype, more substance
- More live, on-scene stories
- Better audience targeting: More boomer stories. Less police chasing, and more relevant story chasing
- Break up the breaks—too predictable
Today, traditional media must energize the news product. The 30-minute news show is still a strong franchise, but just like the blacksmiths of the early 1900s, you can hear more and more engines running.