Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't Sell TV News Short, Yet!

Local TV is the only source of news to beat word-of-mouth as the go-to source for local information, according to a recently released Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation study.

In a nationwide survey of 2,251 adults, 74% said they turned to local TV news at least once a week to get information about their community.  That compares to similar research in the late 80s, when viewers watched local news at least four-times a week.

That old fashioned word-of-mouth came in second with 55-percent of those surveyed, radio with 51-percent, newspapers a shrinking 50-percent and the Internet with an increasing 47-percent, as a source of news and information.

Research shows that word-of-mouth grows in importance as the traditional media pay less attention to what's important to their viewers, listeners or readers.  A Brookings Institute study found that family and friends were the most popular and reliable sources of a lot of information today.

One example was education and school news.  When was the last time you saw a local television station cover a school board meeting when there was no big protest expected? 

The Pew study respondents said  if they were interested in weather, breaking news, politics or crime then TV news was the best source.

(Disclaimer here) I spent 35-years in newspapers and radio and television news, including about half of that as a newspaper editor or radio or TV news director.

It didn't used to be this way, but now local TV news ranks low as a source on such important things as business, schools, government and cultural events.

THE LESSON HERE:  When you are facing a crisis or managing a crisis, after you are clear what the crisis is, the next step is to identify your key audiences, and before you start "communicating," identify the media that will best reach the key audiences that are important.

TV news mostly appeals to an audience over 40.  Younger audiences tend to get their news and information from digital sources such as the Internet and mobile phones.

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