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News Notes

Pew: Local TV Audiences Grew in 2013

pew research studyGood news for newsrooms across the country: the local television audience grew in all three major time slots in 2013, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center:

Viewership climbed 6% in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) and 3% in the early evening (5 to 7 p.m.) newscasts, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The audience barely edged up—by .1%—in the late night slot (11 p.m.), a newscast that had suffered the biggest decreases in recent years.

The good news comes after a difficult 2012 when late night and early evening audiences each dropped by 7% and the morning audience decreased by 5%. Indeed, viewership for all three slots had declined every year from 2008-2012—with the exception of a small uptick in 2011. Pew Research analyzes Nielsen Media Research audience data for all four major sweeps periods — February, May, July and November — and computes national averages for each time slot.

Pew reports the viewership increases were the result of a strong November sweeps period: the morning news grew by 12%, evening news was up 8% and late night was up 6%.

Time Warner Reverses Course, Keeps NECN

necn logoTime Warner Cable subscribers in Maine, parts of New Hampshire and the Berkshires can continue to watch New England Cable News after the cable company changed plans to drop the regional cable channel.

According to NECN, viewers, along with several politicians including Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey (D) and Elizabeth Warren (D) along with Maine Senators Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) protested the move.

“We appreciate that the residents of Maine and New England view NECN as a critical service,” Mike St. Peter, NECN senior vice president and general manager said in a statement. “We are thrilled Time Warner heard their customers’ voices and will continue to carry NECN.”

Time Warner said in a statement, “NECN has now agreed to work with our leadership at Time Warner Cable News to improve the quality of their local programming for our customers.” Read more

Conan O’Brien Catches Local Anchors Using Identical Scripts (Again)

In what has become a recurring “Media Reacts” segment on his show, Conan O’Brien poked fun at using identical scripts in local newscasts across the country, playing clips of more than 20 anchors reading the exact same line about holiday shopping: “It’s okay, you can admit it if you’ve bought an item or two or ten for yourself.”

“Scary. I find it frightening,” O’Brien said (video above).

Time Warner Drops New England Cable News

necn logoTime Warner Cable is dropping New England Cable News from its lineup in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. The Portland Press Herald reports viewers are angry about the decision:

“I’m ready to scream,” Julie Deroche of Gray said in a phone interview, joining a chorus of angry Time Warner customers who posted similar opinions online. “They are making the poorest change, in my mind. The bottom line is greed. It’s all about money.”

The announcement followed this week’s breakdown of contract negotiations between NECN and Time Warner, which pays fees to cable channels to carry them on its system. Time Warner Public Relations Director Scott Pryzwansky said the decision was based on several factors, including cost, viewership and unique content, and is final.

Beginning in 2014, Time Warner Cable is adding Al Jazeera America to its lineup, although a spokesperson for Time Warner says the decision “is not connected.”

After Another ‘Conan’ Segment, WECT ND Calls Identical Scripts ‘Embarrassing’

Poynter takes a look at the origins of an identical script — about Mike Myers expecting another child — that was read by 29 anchors across the country. The video aired on “Conan,” with Conan O’Brien sarcastically noting, “local news found a really unique way to tell the story.”

WECT news director Scott Saxton said the line came from CNN News Source wire copy as part of a “Hollywood Minute” segment. “It was a bad representation of our station,” Saxton told Poynter. “It’s embarrassing and unacceptable, and we’ve addressed it within the team.”

This isn’t the first time O’Brien has called out local stations for using identical scripts: there was the story about the election, one about Hostess’ bankruptcy, another about Cyber Monday and even one about O’Brien himself.

RTDNA Reminds Newsrooms to Have a Disaster Plan

rtdna logo_304x200Many of us think we can handle anything that comes our way. But as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

With that in mind, RTDNA is offering tips to prepare journalists for action after being metaphorically punched in the mouth by a tornado, hurricane or even earthquake..

Do crisis plans work? Because of advance planning, the radio and television stations of New Orleans were able to continue broadcasting in the wake of the storm, the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota never missed an issue and KBJR-TV in Minnesota didn’t miss a single newscast despite the disaster. A crisis plan is like having a “go bag” for your entire newsroom. It’s time to start packing.

The RTDNA has link to a handy downloadable list of questions to think about when putting together a plan or checking your newsroom’s existing one. Click here to view.

WATCH: It’s Local in North Korea. UK’s Channel 4 Shows North Korean TV News

If you think what’s going on in Washington, D.C. is kookaloo crazy, Britain’s Channel 4 is giving a rare look into everyone’s favorite government-by-cult-of-personality.

The British broadcaster is showing North Korean TV News on its website as part of an ongoing series called “North Korea Uncovered.” The news is accompanied by an English translation.

Check out the site by clicking here and don’t forget to praise the Dear Leader’s grace and kindness while you watch.

Pew: 71% of U.S. Adults Watch Local News

pew tv news viewingA new Pew study finds that 71% of American adults watch the local news over the course of a month, more than the 65% that watch network newscasts and the 38% that watch cable news.

Related, TVNewser: There Are More People Who Watch Both MSNBC and Fox News Than You Think

People who watch local news average about 12.3 minutes a day, compared to 12.4 minutes for network newscasts and 25.3 minutes for cable newscasts. Pew also finds the local news audience is highest during the 11 p.m. newscasts, which draws about 15% more viewers than the 5 to 7 p.m. block. The early-morning newscasts (6 to 7 a.m.) get about 60% of the viewership that the late newscast does.

The study was performed analyzing Nielsen research data from February 2013. Read the entire report here. [h/t Jim Romenesko]

WATCH: Five Things I Didn’t Learn In J-School

Something they don’t always teach in college is that the learning doesn’t really happen until you’re out of school. But by then it’s called “working on your craft” if you’re good and “gaining experience” otherwise. But at least you get paid for it.

Stephanie Tsoflias, New York market TV reporter and Mediabistro instructor gives her list of the top five things she didn’t learn in journalism school.

If you like what you hear, click on this link to sign up for Tsoflias’ “TV News reporting” class or go to mediabistro.com/courses to search for something else you may want to learn.

Should TV News Have On-Air Fact Checkers?

controlroom_304x200On the heels of CBS News and NBC News misidentifying the Navy Yard shooter, USA Today‘s Rem Rieder argues television news should take a cue from ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” and employ on-air fact checkers:

Television has never been very good at pointing out its errors. Newspapers generally have corrections sections. Many news websites will not only correct mistakes in copy, they will also note that the original version was incorrect. But TV news has been a laggard when it comes to setting the record straight.

And the idea of pointing out the mistakes on the program where they took place is perfect for the digital age. While newspapers have to wait until the following day to run their corrections, websites can and should fix mistakes as soon as they’re discovered.

As [ESPN's Tony] Kornheiser says, “If you get something wrong, you ought to correct it right on the spot.” After all, if you don’t, others will. When news outlets make mistakes, particularly on high-profile stories, you can be sure that many readers and viewers will take to Twitter to point them out.

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