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Archives: April 2005

Attracting Young Eyeballs To TV News

“The future of the U.S. news industry is seriously threatened by the seemingly irrevocable move by young people away from traditional news sources,” Merrill Brown writes in an essay entitled “Abandoning the News.”

“We would like to attract younger viewers,” NBC News VP Bill Wheatley says. “…But in news, the challenge is great. The trick is that we are a mass medium and if we target young people too regularly and too narrowly, we will lose other parts of the audience. We may, though, come to a point where we will have to create programs just for younger viewers.” This week’s Broadcasting & Cable has an excerpt from the essay…

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Klein: “We’re Winning The Quality War Already” — And The Ratings Will Follow

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines Jon Klein’s storytelling strategy: “We want to keep hammering away, smothering a story,” he says. More:

“We’re winning the quality war already, not the ratings war. About a year from now, we should be able to establish consistent ratings growth.”

But first, Klein says, the makeover on relaying the news must be completed:

“It’s not consistently where I want it to be. Probably 50 percent. On any given night, half of what we do is right on target, the other half is what we need to work on.”

FNC Triples CNN During Press Conf.

Fox News Channel more than tripled CNN during President Bush’s press conference last night. Between 8 and 9pm, FNC averaged 2,722,000 viewers, while CNN had 896,000 and MSNBC had 569,000. In the 25-54 demo, FNC averaged 750,000, while CNN had 283,000 and MSNBC had 150,000.

Peter Jennings Thanks Viewers For Support

“ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings in a letter written today thanked those who have offered their support and get-well wishes following his diagnosis of lung cancer,” ABCNews.com reports.

“Thousands of you have spoiled me rotten with your attention in the last couple of weeks,” Jennings wrote. “Whether you have a cancer connection or not, your anecdotes, mementos, home recipes, and general all-purpose guidance and concern have all been so deeply appreciated. I hope you know.” Read Peter’s full letter after the jump…

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Judy Woodruff Was Going To Be Demoted?

Lisa de Moraes has the inside story about Judy Woodruff’s decision to leave CNN: “Two sources familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of contract talks, said CNN had offered Woodruff a role as a kind of ‘super correspondent’ in Washington but planned to drop her as ‘Inside Politics’ anchor. The offer, which would have amounted to a demotion, confirmed Woodruff’s earlier decision to step down, the sources said.”

Prez Press Conference: Morning-After

bushpressconf.jpg > Lisa de Moraes: “Thus can it be said that Donald Trump forced the president of the United States to reschedule an address to the nation. Way to go, Donald!” (Her story is a must-read, BTW.)

> NBC dumped out around 8:55pm, as did CBS. The Fox network left the press conference at 9pm. Bush wrapped up at 9:01pm. Perhaps his watch was broken?…

> Bush fielded two questions after NBC and CBS cut away. “In case you missed the questions…they had to do with those trivial, esoteric areas of North Korea and Social Security,” E&P says.

> New York Times: “It was that timing [the first day of sweeps], as much as the White House suggestion that Mr. Bush had no major announcement to make, that gave the networks pause about going live, several executives said.”

> “Fox’s coverage of the Bush speech was great tonight because they put the names of all the reporters asking the president questions on the screen,” an e-mailer said.

Bill Wheatley Named Executive VP

bill_wheatley.jpgBill Wheatley has been named Executive Vice President for NBC News in recognition of his “30 years of service to NBC News,” the network announced yesterday. “There is absolutely no way we could let Bill leave NBC News without recognizing the tremendous impact he has had over the past three decades,” Neal Shapiro said. “This promotion reflects the importance of not only his dedicated commitment to the Division over the years, but also his continued role in the senior management transition.” Wheatley is retiring in June…

NBC’s Lobbying Led To Press Conf. Change

Last night’s decision to carry the president’s press conference live was mostly due to NBC. “After lobbying by NBC executives,” Jacques Steinberg writes, the White House moved the start time to 8pm. An NBC spokesperson says “we had a discussion with the White House about the difficulties of scheduling an 8:30 press conference. And they responded by moving it to 8 o’clock.”

The Katie & Matt Contract Game

couriclauersmall.jpg“[NBC chief] Jeff Zucker is pressuring Katie [Couric] to sign a three-year contract when her current contract is up next May 2006,” a “TV honcho” tells Page Six today. “If she does re-up, it is likely she’ll receive a raise on her current $15 million-a-year salary. But that could cause a problem with Today co-anchor Matt Lauer. Our TV-exec insider explained, ‘Matt’s contract is up in two years and if Katie re-signs, he will likely leave NBC at the end of his contract.’”

Imus Is A “Cantankerous Old Fool”

Quoting today’s Page Six: “MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer, a former news reader on Don Imus’ show, telling pals at Cain that she thinks Imus is a ‘cantankerous old fool’ who doesn’t know how to relate to ‘beautiful women.’”

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