Emerging Media vs. Traditiona Media

It’s amazing how many avenues people can utilize to get news, current events, opinions or just plain gossip. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Four Square….they’re all out there just waiting for you to Tweet your friends and let them know where they can follow every detail of your fairly mundane life. It’s amazing that this phenomenon has continued until it’s reached proportions most of us can’t even fathom.

I wrote last week about my fears for the television industry, and tongue in cheek, I said that by blogging, I’m contributing to my own professional demise. I really think this is true-not that my blog will really go anywhere, but the time I devote to this is time that I’m not keeping up with what’s going on via tv news. Most of us in the business see the new media as a necessary evolution, but that doesn’t keep us from poking fun at it. On our show, Eyewitness News This Morning, we posted a question asking people to post who they think should run for governor in WV. We have a couple of funny people who post on our station’s FB page who suggested I run. Of course we all got a great laugh at that on air. Most of us in the tv news biz get a laugh at the social networking obsession taking over tv news, as well. Check out this spoof performed by the staff at a Dallas station that was produced for an Emmy awards ceremony:
http://www.instantpride.com/tv-station-pokes-fun-at-facebook-twitter-and-skype-in-news-parody/2010/10/22/

While that’s funny as hell, it’s also, sadly, closer to becomming reality than many of us in the business would care to admit. In just the last year, we at WCHS-TV launched a Facebook page, a Twitter account, streaming news and weather segments and have just launched an app where you can watch our news live on your mobile phone. While that’s great for consumers, it’s not really great for those of us who depend on ratings for our jobs. Although more people are watching our news product, less people are doing it in ways that can help with job security.

I think, ultimately, what you’ll see is one dominant station providing local news in each market, with that product being delivered primarily via the web or wireless device of various makes, models and types. One set of anchors, one set of photojournalists and very small production values. That’s a lot of jobs lost, but without much content lost. Producing tv news is expensive and if ratings continue to plummet like they are trending now, there is no way a news director will be able to justify the expense of running a news organization which loses money. The ultimate result will be a lack of competition and the temptation of more one-sided, issue dominated news. That’s not good for anyone. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back. Hopefully.

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Blogging for fun and profit!

I’m Patrick McMurtry and I have something to say! There, I said it. There, you read it. It must be fact. The fact is, bloggers probably have as much collective influence as the national television network news departments and that’s incredibly scary to me because I’ve made a career out of tv news. Now I’m working towards a new career in marketing, which inevitably will include blogging. In a way, I’m my own demise (Ok Mr. Chamberlain, you were correct!). By the way, Mr. Chamberlain was my English Lit professor in high school and he always said “Patrick, you’re your own worst enemy. You will keep yourself from being a success and nobody else.” Actually Tammy Straight played a role in that one, but, for the most part, Mr. Chamberlain, you were right. But that’s another blog for another day. I’m already becoming addicted to this blogging thing. Cool.

I have spent the last seven years of my life waking up at 3:30 AM so I can go in to my job at WCHS-TV, write and revise scripts so that I can make some sort of sense when I begin anchoring the news at 5:00 AM. I don’t know if I succeed because I am usually so distracted with my Facebook page that I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to what I’m saying on the air. As you can imagine, that makes for some interesting newscasts and some equally interesting meetings with my news director. It’s actually partially his fault since he took my advice and made Facebook a major part of our news presentation. Here’s where you can be a friend of WCHS-TV:

http://www.facebook.com/eyewitnessnewscharleston

I actually can attest to the power of emerging media in television, at least at WCHS. This time last year, we had less than 1,000 friends and fans on our station’s Facebook page. That all changed in a matter of weeks. We had a pretty major snow event here the second week of February (snow event is news speak for 4-6″ of snow). The WV Department of Transportation road report phone line did not change the road conditions once in the hours between midnight and 8 AM even though the snow started after midnight and totaled 6″ by daybreak. I started asking Facebook friends to give us conditions of the roads in their area, and by the time my three hour show was over, we added more than a thousand friends. In the next month, our list was over 10,000! We now regularly ask our viewers to post and interact with us on Facebook and I take time out of each half hour to read posts on our air.

I have spent the last twenty years of my life traveling around the world, working as a journalist and as the Director of Communications/Federal Policy Adviser to the Governor of Guam. I have come to the conclusion that television news will either be obsolete or severely downsized in the coming decade and decided to work on my Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from WVU. I am in m fourth class and so far, this has been a great experience! Although I write for a living, I have never attempted a blog. In fact, and this is a true story, right after I won an Emmy for reporting, I told our web guy at work that I wanted to do a blog about the stories I cover as I work on my West Virginia Wildlife franchise. His exact words: “I think you should concentrate more on writing better scripts before you start thinking about working on a blog.” Keep in mind, this was two weeks after I picked up my Emmy. Classic. Anyway, decide for yourself by watching some of the wildlife pieces at wchstv.com or you can go to this link:
http://wchstv.com/newsroom/wvwildlife/2011/ww110112.shtml

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