Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Five Commandments of Local Television News

I know your first question. “Why not ten commandments?” That’s been taken, and since we’re talking TV, there’s no time for ten, so we’ll have to go with five commandments.

After years of witnessing the evolution local television news and pitching substantive story ideas at times only to lose out to stories about 20-pound cats and talking Christmas trees, I feel compelled to list the unsaid rules of local TV news story selection. So, here goes – The Five Commandments of Local TV News:

One - Begin with Sports and Weather teasers. Feature Sports and Weather. And end with Sports and Weather.
Two - Always lead the newscast with a fire, a car accident or a crime story.
Three - Always find someone who’s long on opinion but short on information for a man-on-the-street interview to explain macroeconomic concepts like foreign trade deficits. (“They took our jobs!”)
Four - Lay a guilt trip on your audience with at least one preachy story about what people shouldn’t eat, or what they're not doing to save the planet. (“Remember, it’s good for you, and it’s good for the environment.”)
Five - Scare your audience into watching. Food recalls are great. Light snow or rain is even better if you can work the words “storm watch” into the teaser.

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