One of the biggest mistakes many producers make is to group spot news and other negative stories back-to-back-to-back. This really upsets many viewers, and it’s one of the most common complaints viewers have of local television news: “It’s all just bad news.” Many producers reinforce this perception by grouping all bad news together.
The key to a successful newscast is one that has an appropriate balance of news and information spread evenly throughout the program. Many newscasts are way out of balance. For instance, a newscast where the top is full of crime and spot news and the back half is nothing but weather, sports and a kicker is certainly not in balance.
How many times have you seen a newscast where the lead is a gruesome murder, followed by a slightly less gruesome murder, followed by a horrific car accident, which leads to someone dying in a house fire, a drowning, a bank robbery and the stabbing of a local high school athlete. Viewer reaction? “This is so depressing”
Viewers grow weary of the endless litany of “bad news” and eventually tune out. They never get to the more in-depth, interesting, and relevant content that you and your staff have worked so hard on all day long. While it’s a reality that a lot of news is tragic, that doesn’t mean we have to bombard viewers with it over-and-over-and-over-again all at once.
If you have six spot news stories, there is absolutely no need to group them all together near the top of the show. And in fact, you are doing more harm than good when you do that. You may drive viewers away. Avoid the back-to-back-to-back placement of “bad news.” Spread those stories out over the course of the newscast, or simply save some of them for other newscasts.
The solution to a balanced newscast is being thoughtful in placing stories evenly throughout the newscast. It’s what your viewers want. Yes, they are often interested in the numerous shocking stories you have, but putting all of those stories next to each other will often force many viewers to hit the remote control.
Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Doug on facebook http://www.facebook.com/dougdrew and on twitter at http://twitter.com/dougdrew