Evolution, yay! Devolution, boo!
Last month I made a short list of things I love about Las Vegas media, and promised I’d deliver an alternate list of major disappoinments.
I’m not a negative person, this wasn’t easy. Please know, this isn’t a bunch of nitpicking. That’s just not me.
What I’d like to talk about is a major movement behind the scenes at several media companies that’s left talented, journalists out of work. It’s happening around the country, but my focus is here in Las Vegas, where I have spent a substantial portion of my career.
If you’re a frequent local Las Vegas news consumer, you’ve likely noticed some of your favorite personalities/journalists have suddenly disappeared and the quality of the paper and the newscasts has diminished. It bothers me, and as a consumer it should bother you.
When it comes to local television news, viewers favor familiarity as much as they favor content, maybe even more so. Someone with experience and a closeness with their community will have an easier time relating a story to the audience. This is the difference between in-depth reporting and the “rogues gallery” of mugshots and crime stories that can clutter a large chunk of an evening newscast.
The truth, as many of you have probably surmised, is that money is the driving factor in these decisions. Contracts are not being renewed or are being canceled prematurely. Veteran journalists are not even being given the option to take a pay cut or add new responsibilities within their company.
The latter option is the one that management should be considering. Keeping employees with less experience does nothing to improve your product. A disciplined journalist can bring stability to your entire news team.
With access to the entire world literally at our fingertips, local news managers need to show the audience why they should choose their product. That means media companies need to embrace local stories that the audience cares about. Sounds simple right? To do that, local media companies are going to need smart people that understand the local history. Now is the time for media companies to embrace their veteran talent, cut ties with the inexperienced “warm bodies” and move forward with a leaner, meaner operation.
By the way, those aren’t just buzz words. I’ve been in the business. I know there are a lot of people who could be doing a lot more work than they are right now and that includes these talented vets. It’s happening around the nation. It needs to happen here.
Media companies will not grow by cutting ties with their best talent without adding any new responsibilities to those people who are left. Let’s just hope those left behind can handle the workload. I’m all for the evolution, let’s just make sure it’s we are not devolving.
This was mostly focused on the TV side of things but the same thing is happening in print news rooms as well. As always, would love to hear some feedback.
P.S. Media Bistro, you read my mind
OK, so MediaBistro was probably not directly influenced by my blog from a couple weeks ago. But last week they did feature Rob Curley, President/Executive Editor of Greenspun Interactive in the “What do you do column…”. Turns out Rob Curley does a lot.
Check out the article, I am very interested in hearing your input. I found it quite amusing, especially the part where Curley said, “[702.tv has] kind of disguised itself as this really, really crazy fraternity that’s always on party mode, but then when you look back you realize that all the members of the fraternity have the highest GPA in the college.”
I am not quite sure how I feel about that just yet. But those crazy 702.tv kids are off to a banging start and I hope they keep up the good work. It will be interesting to see how the project evolves into its own as its editorial team decides what works and what does not.