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Archives: June 2010

The Problem with One-Word Coverage Promises

A great tease will contain a solid promise of coverage that foreshadows a full and satisfying story. In the world of entertainment, the goal is to convey the depth and complexity of the story line. Any promises that smack of simplicity or shallowness just won’t motivate a viewer.

We see this in movie trailers all the time. You will never see a promo that promises the basic plot of the movie. For example: “Will the hero get the girl?” Of course he will. “Can these clever thieves pull off the heist?” Of course they can. The goal of the trailer is to show the incredible depth of the story line and promise a tale that is unique to moviedom. “Can a ferret, two parakeets and a bank robbery lead to love for these midgets transvestites on a road trip across the Ukraine?” Now that sounds like a deep story line with some real twists. They have proven that the movie will have much more than the basic plot points.

The goal is the same in TV news promos and teases. Far too often, the components foreshadowed in a tease convey only a basic story. We make a specific promise of coverage, but we never convey the depth of the story line. The problem – we focus solely on facts, not on how those facts add up to a full and rich plot line complete with heros, villains, twists and turns.

When writing in-show teases and promos, apply this simple test to determine the depth of your story line. Make a promise of coverage, then see how many words it requires to fulfill that promise. If the answer is just a word or two, you’ve failed to show the intricacy of your story. For example:

The promise: “Tonight, find out who hid the fugitive after the escape.”
The answer: “His sister.”

The answer contains just two words and does not convey the cool parts of the tale. Let’s try again:

The promise: The fugitive’s hide and seek game that stumped police for more than a week.”

Fulfilling this promise of coverage requires a long explanation and a very intricate story. That is a sign you’ve done a great tease. If the explanation of the promise takes several sentences, then you have successfully conveyed depth of coverage. After hearing that promise, I get the feeling that the full story will be a real adventure – something very entertaining.

It is the same principle with weather:

The promise: “Find out when it will rain this week.”
The answer: “Thursday”

This sounds like a basic weather forecast I can get on any channel. The goal is to convey an entire weather drama that promises unique coverage:

Better: “Some wild days of wind and rain are just around the corner. I’ll show you when the heaviest showers will hit the Valley.”

Same with sports:

The promise: “Who won the big game.”
The answer: “The Broncos.”

Sounds like basic scores and highlights I can get off the internet.

Better: The game-winning touchdown pass that blew this grudge match wide open in the second half.”

In teasing and promos the goal is not the proverbial “KISS” formula -”keep it simple stupid.” We want exactly the opposite. We want to foreshadow complexity and a brain stimulating drama.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602commu

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Longtime KNBC Traffic Reporter Passes Away


Paul Johnson Longtime NBC4 Today in L.A. morning traffic reporter Paul Johnson left us for a better, Sigalert-free world Tuesday evening at home with his wife and family around him. He was 75.

He put up a heroic fight against a glioblastoma (brain tumor) but on Tuesday, it was time to go, and as his wife Nancy said in a voicemail to his coworkers a few minutes after he left, “He’s gone to see Jesus.”

The world was a better place while he was in it, telling us to “buckle up, be careful out there,” but what he was really telling us is that no matter what was ahead on the road, no matter what obstacles or accidents were in the way, that it was going to be OK. More…

Kagan Says ‘Yes’ to Cameras in the Courtroom

The Wall Street Journal

Elena Kagan You want forthcoming? Well, the Kagan hearings so far haven’t mimicked the confessional tone of MTV’s “The Hills,” but theyve revealed a bit more than did last year’s hearings involving Sonia Sotomayor.

For starters, Kagan Tuesday morning didn’t hedge when asked her opinion of cameras in the courtroom. “I think it would be a great thing for the institution and for the American people” to have cameras, she said, adding “I’m open to being persuaded I’m wrong.” Wow. A far cry from David Souter’s cameras “over my dead body” proclamation. More…

NBCU Executives Face Tense Wait on Future

New York Post

Jeff Zucker It’s going to be a long, hot summer at 30 Rock as NBC Universal senior staff sweat out who gets to stay with the company — and on what terms — as Comcast pushes for a possible fourth-quarter close on its purchase of NBC Universal.

While NBC Universal management will ultimately make the staffing decisions, Comcast, which is acquiring a 51 percent stake in the conglomerate from General Electric, is legally permitted to work in consultation with NBC Universal execs to decide on the management makeup of the post-merger giant.

A new organizational structure of the combined company will be ready in September More…

Station Manager Leaving Louisville for Evansville

Business First of Louisville

Nick Ulmer Nick Ulmer, who has served as station manager for WAVE-TV, Louisville’s NBC affiliate, since February 2008, has left to become vice president and general manager of WFIE-TV, the NBC affiliate in Evansville, Ind.

Ulmer spent 27 years with WAVE.

In addition to station manager, he also has served as an account executive, national sales manager and general sales manager. More…

MSNBC Hires Time’s Mark Halperin

The New York Times

Mark Halperin Adding to its roster of political boldface names ahead of the midterm elections, MSNBC said Wednesday that it had signed Mark Halperin as a senior political analyst.

Mr. Halperin holds the same position at Time magazine, where he is also an editor at large

Mr. Halperin has been a regular on “Morning Joe,” the channel’s free-wheeling morning show, and Tuesday’s deal makes it official. “He will continue to contribute to ‘Morning Joe’ on a regular basis and will appear on additional MSNBC programs,” the channel said in a news release. More…

Anchor Leaving Dallas’s KXAS After 30 Years

The Dallas Morning News

Mike Snyder When Mike Snyder concludes his final newscast of the day on KXAS-TV (Channel 5), he posts a note on his Twitter and Facebook pages: “That’s the news, and I am outta here.”

This phrase, an echo of Dennis Miller’s sign-off when he anchored “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live, will become all too true for Snyder on Thursday, when he will do his last Channel 5 newscast after 18 years as a co-anchor and 30 years with the station.

Snyder, who just turned 57, is retiring from the station but has big plans –plans he’s not ready to announce–and says that leaving the station does not mean leaving journalism. More…

Citing Economy, Orlando’s WKMG Cuts Veteran Anchor

Orlando Sentinel

Jacqueline London
, one of the most recognizable anchors in this market, has left WKMG-Ch. 6 after nearly 14 years at the CBS affiliate. Her final broadcast at the station was 6 p.m. Thursday.

WKMG General Manager Skip Valet released a statement this morning exclusively to the Orlando Sentinel: “After a lengthy discussion based on this tough economy, WKMG has decided it is not feasible to employ three anchors for our 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. As part of this decision WKMG and Jacqueline London have decided to part company.” More…

LAPD Threw KTTV Reporter ‘Like a Rag Doll’

Courthouse News

Christina Gonzalez In the trial over the violent break-up of the immigration rally, a camerawoman testified that a policeman knocked her camera off her shoulder and shoved her to the ground, and then turned against Fox TV reporter Christina Gonzalez.

“The police officer threw her around like a rag doll,” the camerawoman said, “and Christina was yelling, ‘You can’t do this!’”

Camerawoman Patricia Ballaz resumed her testimony in the ongoing trial over the baton-swinging charge of the Los Angeles Police Department that sent demonstrators and journalists alike hurtling back and down to the ground. More…

CNN Anchors at Odds with Anderson Cooper

The Wrap

Anderson Cooper Larry King‘s leaving is not the only problem at CNN. The cable news network is plagued by high-profile departures, low ratings and– TheWrap has learned–widespread resentment among producers and anchors.

The succession war set off by King leaving is only likely to heighten the tension even further.

Speaking on background, one CNN on-air personality told TheWrap that most of the anchors were jealous that Anderson Cooper sucked up resources by going to Haiti and the Gulf of Mexico, leaving them unable to build their profiles at the network. More…