More news – less crews – slanted views?


Competition from online and always-on sources and increased economic pressure are resulting in fast changes in the local television news model.  While staff is being cut at a rapid rate, including both production crews and on-air personalities, the amount of programming is increasing.  Although the trend was apparent late last year, as more and more content moved from investigative and on-scene reporting to in-studio talking heads and superimposed file photography, an AP article today details the extent of the atrophy the news crews have suffered.

Apparently, even though viewership and advertising rates are declining, it’s cheaper to package a local news show than it is to purchase syndicated content, so the local stations squeeze more product from fewer resources.

What does that mean to us?  First, as the budgets and crews get cut, the stations have to rely more heavily on aggregated content.  This means an elimination of variety as the source for stories moves higher in the distribution chain.  You may see this manifested as a local broadcast that is tied much more closely to the national “talking points” that the other media outlets are following.

The other component to this is the encouragement the remaining on-air teams are being given to open up and add their personalities to the program.  While it’s intended to be engaging, the result is a broadcast that is much heavier on opinion and commentary than factual reporting.

Pay attention to what is happening in your local area.  If you’re one of the shrinking number of folks that gets your daily news from a local news telecast, a decrease in aggregate variety coupled with an incremental erosion of impartiality could be changing your world view.

Have you noticed a subtle change in your local news broadcast?

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  1. #1 by ratman - April 27th, 2009 at 09:11

    here’s the deal. ‘news’ is supposed to be just that, ‘news’. now, with the exception of wbbm780 on am in chicago, the rest of the market here seems more like ‘shows’. something they hadn’t been until staring in the fall of last year, to my recollection. i watch ‘shows’ but only after 7p and before 10p. the rest of the time, i read my feeddemon.

    have a great day!

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