Wow. You have to read tvspy today. Columnist Graeme Newell comes out and says what many of us have suspected:
“There is a lot of panic in the broadcast industry these days. The general feeling is that the business has topped out and the future holds a slow steady slide into the abyss for media oblivion.”
The audience has left the building and – worse yet – only comes back for quick peeks at stations’ websites.
“When you list out all of the expenses for running a local station web site, it quickly becomes obvious that most TV news web sites are not making money.”
Newell places the lack of web income on the general content of news sites. Viewers tend to hop in, hit what they want, then hop out – rather than staying and perusing the entire site. They don’t “stick” around…and sticky websites are those that grab a viewer and hold on to them. How do these “sticky” websites keep their audience? They allow interaction – they listen to their audience and respond. And, as Newell points out,
Most TV stations are secretly terrified to let their audiences have a voice on their site. We are accustomed to a style of one-way communication and controlling the content agenda.
Wow again. I remember my days in the newsroom. Unless a viewer wrote a letter to management, most complaints went in one ear and out the other. Viewers were good for only two things: ratings and story ideas. The latter only if we wanted to listen. Attitudes are gonna have to change if broadcast websites are going to make money and hold their audience. But more, the stations have to listen and respond responsibly. Balance out voyarism (what they want vs. what they need) with good hard community news that draws the audience in – news that affects them and makes them care. Create a virtual community with issues that are important and respond to questions with more stories in areas that the community wants to see. TV news can no longer be god-like. It must be a caring companion, willing to take part in discussion.