"Brother can you spare a Bail-out"

This is a case of Good News, and Bad News. A survey reported that the amount of news time on local TV increased. The BAD news, there's a declline in TV news jobs. More than 50 percent of local stations around the country said they laid off workers in the past year. 1200 journalists were laid off in 2008.

What can a local station do but tell remaining workers they have to do much more with much less. San Diego news jobs have taken a hit, some stations are on their 2nd or 3rd round of layoffs. Nationally the percentage of TV jobs lost was greater than the decline in overall U.S. employment. Reporters were hit the hardest with a 13 percent decline followed by Anchors at 11.5 percent. This pattern is seen in most on-air jobs, personalities you tune to for the weather, sports, and news. The irony is a typical station added a half-hour of local news per weekday. The driving force is drop in viewship, and a bigger drop in ad revenues.

This survey was conducted by the RTNDA, (Radio Television News Directors Assn.) and Hofstra University. The study was a random sampling of stations during the last quarter of 2008. Fast forward to today. I've been talking to former co-workers, and reading the trades. So far 2009 is worse. Except not only are we loosing jobs, but news air-time. Channel 6 in town has cut it's hour long 10pm news to 30 minutes. Others who considered adding news at 4pm have abandoned that idea.

When was the last time you tuned into a local newscast? Did you feel informed? Were the issues you care about represented? Was the coverage a fair snapshot of your community, and the events of the day? We need to keep asking these questions of our local media. They make a living asking tough question from the general public, and businesses. We should hold media companies accountable too. Here at New Media Rights we represent your views, and concerns, and want to hear from you. 

Perhaps the problem can be found inside Local TV editorial meetings. News managers love "breaking news," even if its not anything big, or breaking. Producers tend to over use the term "BREAKING." I'm referring to minor auto accidents, isolated fires, or shootings. Street crime that's become the bread and butter of local news. Many times these stories wind up taking up way too much air time. The important local stories are sometimes ignored because they're too hard to cover, they're time consuming, or seen as boring. Many managers are breaking free from the old models used in the 70's  80's, and 90's.  

I'm beginning to see stations airing top stories on topics related to our financial, political, or social lives. Perhaps Richard Florida said it best in a past blog "this recession is the great reset." Meaning local stations are forced to change the way they operate, and the way they relate to viewers. One Tampa Florida station is runnig a segment in their late news called "Lighting Round." Anchors, and experts debate a local issue, much like counterparts on MSNBC, or Fox news channel discuss a national issue. Another station WTTG in D.C. airs "The five things you ought to know before you go to bed." It concerns the next day's planned events in the communtiy, or some safety concerns you should be aware of, or a real important news issue you should keep in mind. I'd tune in for that.    


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