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Tonight at 5 … passion

Local news broadcast from Portland, Oregon

Local news broadcast from Portland, Oregon. Photo by Lisa Skube.

Next week in our forum we’re asking you: What is the value of local TV news? How can communities up their yield and maximize return from this powerful and well branded medium? What are the risks of major changes like station consolidation or pay-for-play ads? What innovations in local television news hold the most promise?

Two weeks in as editorial director with the JA and I know a heck of a lot more about local TV news than I ever did before. (Even though I started in VERY local TV – the school district news channel when I was in high school.)

Of course, if you’ve spent any time in a newsroom, you’ve probably spent time near a bank of TV news stations blaring. But in this era of mobile, social and on-demand news, I didn’t realize that around three-quarters of Americans still rely on the TV to find out what’s going on in their home towns and communities. I also didn’t realize how deep passion runs to make the most of this resource.

A sneak peek of our forum on the value of local TV news:

  • From Mark Platte, news director of Hawaii News Now, which runs news programs on three TV stations and a joint website: “We spend a lot of time on weather, we have excellent weather and excellent traffic. But I think you can’t beat the immediacy. The immediacy of news, the live aspect of news, being on the scene, being able to live stream, we’re doing so much more on the web, with video and raw video, that people like. I think that’s the beauty of TV news.”
  • From Libby Reinish with Free Press’s Change the Channels campaign against station consolidation: “No one would stand up and say this [local TV news] is great. But I think it’s too quick to call it a lost cause. I think it’s really important to keep in mind that broadcasters have made a bargain with public – and it’s really important to envision what it could look like, and what value it could provide to community.”
  • From the FCC’s recent report on the information needs of communities: “Far from being nearly-extinct dinosaurs, the traditional media players—TV stations and newspapers—have emerged as the largest providers of local news online.”
  • From Hofstra University’s Bob Papper and his latest survey of the broadcast landscape for RTDNA: “It’s not simply that television and radio stations are doing more with social media these days, it’s also that—at least in the case of TV—they’re doing something different.”

It’s a crucial time for local TV. Well branded and largely profitable, local stations are aggressively migrating to on-demand and mobile; restructuring models of content and production; breaking down the ad/edit wall further; downsizing, consolidating, and sharing or outsourcing reporting.

What do you want when you click to the local TV news of the future? Join the conversation here!

Our thanks to Libby Reinish, Josh Stearns and Mark Platte who all offer background perspective on the topic: