Aug 262014

Fox_29_promoStop me if you’ve heard this before: A local TV station is creating the “newsroom of the future.” It will soon launch “an interactive, social newscast with viewer generated news content.”

This time around, it’s the Fox station in Philadelphia, announcing a weekend morning show with “unique” content provided by “regular contributors who are not reporters, but news makers in the market.” That sounds like a new and troublesome wrinkle in yet another effort to attract more viewers to local TV news.

Here’s the promo the station is running to promote #Fox29weekend (yep, the show’s name is a hashtag).

When I saw it, I remembered having written about other stations doing similar things…back in 2009. And guess what? Most of those “innovative” newscasts have failed.

Obviously, that hasn’t stopped stations from trying. WJZY, the Fox station in Charlotte, North Carolina, has a 10 p.m.newscast format that’s almost identical to what WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, attempted five years ago, complete with a roving anchor who stops by reporters’ desks to ask them to tell their stories.

Lots of stations now integrate social media in their newscasts. WXYZ in Detroit has had success with its #backchannel initative, which started as a conversation between anchor Stephen Clark and his Twitter followers and which he says has led to tons of story ideas. But I confess that I have my doubts about strolling anchors and iPhone contributions from newsmakers.

I’ll stay tuned for proof that this kind of change is what viewers really want from their local TV newsrooms. If you’ve seen it succeed by drawing more or younger viewers, please do let me know.


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