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News Notes

Local News Vet Finds Young Journos Don’t Watch Local News: ‘This Should Scare Us’


Steve Schwaid  knows a bit about local news. He ran newsrooms in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Hartford and Tampa, and now serves as vice president of digital strategies for CJ&N, a media research and consulting firm. And Schwaid says a recent visit to one of his client stations left him uneasy about the future of local news:

I was recently visiting a client station, meeting with about 20 producers, managers and reporters who were almost all under 35. We started talking about cord cutters and who uses what. This informal “survey” was eye opening, and honestly it more than surprised me. It sent a few chills down my spine.

These young journalists, he discovered, don’t really spend much time tuned in to the very station for which they work. 85% said they had no cable. Most told Schwaid they used Netflix streaming, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Then he asked the big question: do you watch local news? Answer: no, not really. “These are people who work in news and they don’t feel compelled to watch local news. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Clearly they felt they got the news they needed from other online sources. More important, I got the sense they felt local news wasn’t relevant to them. They admitted that their friends outside the business don’t watch local news at all.”

Schwaid urges newsroom managers to connect with these younger staffers and ask them to help develop the kind of product they might actually watch. Or else. “This should scare us. We need to start discussions, research and planning to understand what will get this consumer to watch local news.”

Read his full report–and recommendations–here.

Station Interns on the Future of Local TV News

control roomYou may think of them as little more than the kids in the summer who answer phones on the desk, but the truth is this: interns are the future of the business. Joyce Terhaar, executive editor of the Sacramento Bee, wrote a fascinating piece Sunday: “A glimpse at the future of journalism through the eyes of interns.” Terhaar interviewed the Bee‘s fifteen summer interns, and among other tidbits discovered just one of them actually prefers to get her news in the form of a printed newspaper.

Many said one of their primary forms of news is their Facebook newsfeed. But the Bee‘s interns were not pondering a career change in the face of massive industry change. “Our interns are entering a profession that is reinventing itself, not just in how it distributes news and information but in how it pays for that journalism. That uncertainty doesn’t seem to frighten any of them. They think journalism is here to stay.”

So it seemed wise to ask our local TV interns the same questions. Read more

Meet the Central Florida Reporter Who Wrote a Romantic Thriller Under a Pen Name

Alive at 5For central Florida news reporter Linda Bond, the inspiration for her debut novel struck at a moment when she least expected it: while she was on the air.

“I was sitting on the anchor desk with my co-anchor, and I was reading a story on an adventure vacation. And I turned to him, and I said, ‘that would be the coolest setting for a romantic thriller,’” Bond tells TVSpy. “So that’s kind of how the idea started.”

Said romantic thriller, Alive at 5, is out today from Entangled: Ignite. The book follows TV news reporter Samantha Steele, who teams up with a “gorgeous thrill-seeker” undercover police officer to investigate a suspicious skydiving death. Bond, a central Florida reporter known under a different name on the air, agreed to write and market the book under a pen name as an extra level of separation between her reporting career and her writing career. As a longtime veteran of the station she currently works at, she didn’t want to risk her credibility with viewers.

“I just want to make sure that people know what they’re getting. That’s why I’m separating the two,” Bond says.

Bond, who is the mother of five, found time to write during odd free moments, such as before her kids’ soccer games. Although she was careful to keep her writing and reporting careers separate, never working on her novel in the newsroom, she said she found writing fiction to be a liberating experience after more than 20 years as a reporter. Read more

But Didn’t You Say You Had Breaking News?

Okay, I’ll be the bad guy for a moment. I think it’s time we stopped doing these on-air proposals and hey-look-at-me stunts. Like cupcake stores, we may have reached the limit.

Just last week two very lovely news anchors at KRON in San Francisco, Justine Waldman and Grant Lodes (they’re married) announced they will soon be having a baby. Awesome, guys–congrats! But here’s the thing. We got the great news during, well, the news. After teasing viewers that there was an “exclusive and developing story” coming at the end of the 8 p.m. newscast, the segment opened with a full screen DEVELOPING STORY graphic and stinger. Lodes, KRON’s breaking news anchor, then told viewers “now to a developing story we’ve been following–KRON 4′s Justine Waldman is pregnant.”

Wait, what?

Within seconds, we got to see a “new picture just into the KRON 4 newsroom”–an ultrasound image of the baby due in November. I’m a Dad. And I’m on Facebook. I’ve seen plenty of ultrasounds. But this just made me uncomfortable. Again, I think this is fantastic for Justine and Grant, but here’s the thing: I can’t do this anymore. Read more

Taylor Swift and the Future of Local TV News

taylor swiftTaylor Swift, as it turns out, knows a thing or two about the local TV news biz. Just look at the lyrics of her hit song “Ours”: the stakes are high, the water’s rough, but this love is ours. That could easily be said about the love many of us feel for working in television, a business rich with history, but roiled by change.

This morning, The Wall Street Journal published an essay by Swift on the future of the music business, where she argues all is not lost in the face of declining sales, piracy, streaming, and audiences facing an endless sea of digital distractions. “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” You could say the same thing for journalism.

Millie Tran, a writer and editor at the American Press Institute, shared Swift’s WSJ piece on Twitter, noting “it has a lot of parallels for the news industry.” And it really does.

Swift’s best advice, both to aspiring singer-songwriters and journalists hoping to keep viewers coming to local news—whether it’s at six o’clock or via a station’s iPad app? Read more

Hearst/GfK Study Finds Local News Leads Trustworthiness Across All Ages

A new study conducted by GfK for Hearst Television finds that television viewers trust local news more than other media platforms, which makes local stations a favorable platform for advertisers. Along with trust, local news stations have a “high level of viewer engagement,” which leads viewers to research and purchase products they see advertised during newscasts.

The study, which comes on the heels of a Gallup poll finding confidence in television news at an all-time low, finds local news is the most trusted platform across all demographics: total respondents, adults 24-54, adults 35-64 and adults 55+:

Local Television Trustworthiness Hearst Study

Read the full study here.

Confidence in Television News Dips to New Low

The percentage of Americans who have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the news media is at a record low, according to a new Gallup poll. Confidence in television news is at an all time low of only 18%, lower than both newspapers (22%) and Internet news (19%).

Gallup Confidence in News Media

RTDNA Study: More Stations Producing Local News

The number of stations originating local news went up slightly (by two stations) this year, according to the latest installment of an RTDNA/Hofstra University study. A total of 1,026 stations run local news, with more planned for next year: the study finds “network affiliates are a lot more likely to expect the amount of news to increase in 2014 over 2013.”

RTDNA Hours of Local News per day

[h/t TVNewsCheck]

RTDNA: 76% of Local Stations Share Content With Other Media

Provide Content to Other Media RTDNA

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study finds that 75.9% of stations are involved with other media, down about two and a half points from last year. Almost a third of news directors (31.2%) said they ran news on another local station, and the study finds that content ran on an average of 1.4 stations.

The groups less likely to be involved with other stations: the smallest stations in the biggest markets (66% said they shared content) and Fox affiliates (57%).

See the breakdown of what stations share after the jump. Read more

One in Four Stations Do Not Produce Local Content, Study Finds

pew reseach content sharingPew Research Center’s annual State of the News Media report examines the effects of consolidation on the amount of local news audiences receive, reporting that the number of stations producing local news content has dropped 8% since 2005:

A number of television executives and observers say news sharing agreements, driven largely by the wave of station consolidation, offer real benefits for local viewers. For one thing, they say, these agreements make local news available to more viewers by giving them a choice of how it is presented and when to watch it. But critics say that convenience comes at the cost of competition and diversity in news content.

Related: Pew Report Finds Total Value of Station Acquisition Hits 7-Year High

The overall impact of news sharing is difficult to assess. In some cases, these agreements have reduced the variety of voices and news content available to local viewers; in other cases, they have strengthened quality and enabled underfunded or smaller stations to continue providing news.