What Local News Can Learn from Obama

He rates well in a good demo…

Presidential primaries are a lot like television shows.

You roll out your pilots, and the ones that rate get commissioned. The ones that don’t rate die.

The Chris Dodd Show, for example, does not rate.

Neither does The Joe Biden Show.

So they’re off the air.

But The Obama Hour and now The Hillary Comeback are rating pretty well.

And they’re rating in that all important demographic 18-24.

Local news does not rate well.  And it does terribly in the young demo. In fact, most young people don’t give a rat’s ass about local news. That’s not because local news is not important. It’s because we have not made the effort to make local news relevant to young viewers.

We don’t care.

We have a certain arrogance about attracting younger viewers.  We have a kind of ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to young viewers, or for that matter, viewers who don’t want to watch us.  ‘If you don’t want to watch what we are offering, then don’t’.

With that kind of attitude you end up rating like Tom Tancredo.

In elections we understand the ‘get out the vote’ approach. And we understand shifting the message to attract a new and younger demo.  It seems to have worked for Obama in Iowa and it worked so well that Hillary jumped on the ‘Change’ bandwagon in New Hampshire to catch some of the fire.  She is no dope.

Ratings and elections are cut from the same cloth. Its a vote.  And in local news, there is a whole massive body of non-voters, ie, people who just don’t watch local news, no matter which station. They are the majority. In fact, in some markets, they represent close to 90 percent of the total population.

What kind of candidate ignores 90 percent of the voters and wins?

Answer: none.

Obama enraptured new and young voters. He did it by offering something new. Hillary captured the women’s vote in New Hampshire by ‘being human’, or at least appearing to be so.

Can we do the same in local news.  Can we reinvent ourselves to be more ‘real’?

Isn’t it time for a change in the news business?

Can we Obamaize our news to attract an army of young followers?

Lose the ties and have anchors read with open necked shirts.

Lose the forced and over-written scripts and let the reporters be more natural and relaxed?

Move from ‘confrontational’ news (fire, theft, murder) to news that is more community and inclusive and hopeful?  (Call it the Facebooking of news- its about the Community).


3 responses to “What Local News Can Learn from Obama

  1. maybe oprah will donate a couch for the ‘new’ set.

  2. Relevance over quality. The new news is about ourselves. Facebook’s newsfeed is all the news about our friends – and it fascinates us because it’s about stuff we care about.
    Give me a lastfm of local news and then you’ll find young people engaging. News is what is relevant to you and if I can fast-forward, thumbs up and thumbs down and use social tools of discovery I’ll find the stuff that’s relevant to me. We can call that local news if you like. 😀

  3. Creative ideas and approaches need to be implemented. Yet “creative and news manager” are rarely mentioned in the same sentence.

    Creative people – simply do not become managers. Therefore you have vanilla news.
    That is why every single newscast looks the same. There is no creativity – because the producervision mentality in many news management structures is inbred.

    The people who manage… usually have never put together a story before…. or have rarely even been out in the real world and talked to real people.

    When you combine those traits:
    a lack of creativity and a weak connection with reality – you get a local TV newscast.

    A bit sararcastic, cynical, harsh, I know.

    What do you expect from a creative, supressed, experienced, talented, visual storyteller working in local TV news?

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