This is Part 2 of a series on bringing TV news into the modern age. See Part 1 here.
Now that we’ve established where the industry is, let’s talk about making it better. And what does that mean to make it better? Let’s admit it. We wouldn’t have to do much to make incremental improvements. But to make it not suck? That’s a whole different story.
If you answered the former, you’re probably not part of the solution TV stations are seeking. If you answered the latter, what is it about these guys that makes us trust them more than the Edward R. Murrows or Walter Cronkites of our generation?
Yes, they make us laugh. They make us laugh hard, and they make us laugh a lot. And at the same time they sit at a desk with the greenscreen box up to their right (or left) with an overdone graphic, they tell us they’re not journalists – they’re comedians.
But their material is also eminently shareable. I don’t have cable, and I don’t have HBO (or HBO Go). But I do have an Internet connection. That gives me easy access to YouTube. People share this stuff. All. The. Time. When’s the last time you watched a shared clip of a dog getting rescued from the local news?
So what are some ideas that might educate us about local politics, news and events while actually holding our attention?
First on my list? You guessed it. Why not create a comedic newscast? It can be low budget, it can be online, and it can be built for share, share, sharing.
Second is a bit more radical, but probably also easier to pull off. Do the news in a bar. Really. Find an anchor who can hold his liquor, set him up in a pub with a pint, and let him (or her) run with the events of the day. But here’s where it can get fun. The anchor can have guests. Who also have a drink. And together they can discuss the news – roll some opinions in there, dig deeper on a trending topic, just have a conversation – and stream it online. And, again, make it easily shareable. And if it doesn’t work? Make it better or kill it. You’ve got plenty of analytics to go by and usability testing at any point in a process can never hurt.
But ultimately, whether a station takes ideas like these or something else that’s a radical departure from their trod and true, they’re still putting lipstick on a pig until they can change the culture from the top down to embrace and appreciate differentiating between viewers’ devices and giving their viewers choice in what they view and how they view it.
I’ll save that for Part 3.