Deja vu, hey isn't that the same news story I saw yesterday.

Just like a Saturday Night Live "News Update" skit, people continue to poke fun of the old news formats, and news production in general. The local news business model we've known for years is broken. The formats have been around for more than 40 years. Viewers have finally realized some of the news reports aren't relevant to their lives.

TV stations have been wrestlling with this issue for years. Now economic factors are guiding those station to change, or go out of business. Simply stated the news audience is leaving in droves, and can you blame them. I was reading parts of a study conducted by Tivo. The company that owns the program recording box found that almost 60 percnet of the news stories on the morning programs are repeat stories. Almost 50 percent of all crime stories are re-broadcast in later segments. The term "Late Breaking, and Live" doesn't apply in some newscasts like the morning, or mid-day programs. From time to time "Live" updates related to a story are offered, but that takes time, and resources, and yes money.

Airing left-overs has been a common practice by local TV stations, and its been going on for years. This is how a news operation fills 4 to 5 hours of news. Now it's become an excuse that viewers are not accepting especially in this 24/7 news cycle. People want fresh news on the spot not repeats. Can you blame viewers from saying, "I already saw that report I'm out of here." Researchers are finding that if TV news continues to repeat stories, people will repeatedly abandon them. TV stations have gotten away with the shameless practice. I'm hoping they look at the Tivo study, and institute some change. Sometimes it takes someone pointing out the obvious.

On that thought. One newspaper writer from Utah filed a great story about the quality of local news, and he picked the San Diego market, perhaps because he was here on vacation. When Vince Horiuchi tuned in he spotted some of the obvious things that stick-out yet are hardly addressed. First he said local anchors do way too much chit-chatting. It's embarassing how much time is devoted to "happy talk." Thats the term to describe awkward transitions between anchors on the news set. Horiuchi said he grew impatient with all the fluff before they got to some real news. He says local news has become a personality contest, and proved it when a local San Diego weatherman began signing and dancing to a pop song from the Beatles called "Here Come the Sun." All this while presenting the forecast.

Perhaps the best point he made is the amount of crime related news on the local San Diego news programs. He claimed he saw 90 percent crime news on the air. That's a bit exaggerated, but I can see how people come away with that impression. That's partly because some folks turn off the news after watching 10 minutes of of it. The reporter said there was little reference to stories affecting our lives. Issues like health, education, the economy, and insights into our local government.

"If it bleeds it leads," used to be the barometer to gauge the importance of story selection in a newscast. That old model is broken. For a fresh approach, I invite the Salt Lake City reporter to log on to The Voice of San Diego, an on-line news publication. Maybe Salt Lake City has its own on-line operation like "The Voice." Its good to see the world through a different pair of eyes. What are you seeing in local news? I would like to know. I'd also like to examine solutions.




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