Opinion: How The Future of Local Broadcast Journalism is Going to Have to Work

I have been writing a lot of articles lately on here about streaming services, as they are very important with how our society works today. We get our music via music streaming services like Apple Music, we are entertained by on-demand streaming services like Hulu and Netflix and we watch live television via live TV streaming services like Sling TV, FuboTV and YouTube TV.

With all of that said, I have watched local news for a while now and I think that something has to change in order for their broadcasts to remain relevant in the next decade. What has to change is how the news is broadcasted.

For starters, they need to abandon this whole “let’s do broadcasts at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.” It’s pure nonsense and also the fact that not much changes in local news in 30 minutes.

What needs to happen is that they have a news broadcast that goes on at 5 or 6 p.m. and then not have a new broadcast until 10 p.m. Also, this needs to be broadcasted on the web and not on the actual TV station. If you do a broadcast at 5 p.m. on the web, have a slimmed down version on the TV version and then tell people to watch the full newscast on their websites or streaming services.

When they air (say) the 5 p.m. newscast, it is immediately uploaded to the station’s website, as well as being available on-demand to live TV streaming services. If the station wanted to go even farther, they could upload the newscast to YouTube and Facebook too.

The times for this can change too. What I mean by that is that a newscast is around 20-25 minutes long. However, since the station is essentially posting to the internet (in my theory), I’d say that they could make their newscasts 30-35 minutes long. This means that they can have that in-studio interview and then have time for weather and sports too.

Ads for the stations can be randomized too. If a newscast has 3-4 commercial breaks, then they can change up the ads so that one person is seeing an ad for Dominos Pizza and another person is seeing an ad for the local grocery store. It makes the businesses happy and keeps the stations running.

So, why is this all being done? Why do I think that this needs to change?

To put it honestly, it’s that times change and so must the local broadcast journalism industry. Local news outlets need to rip a page out of the 11th Doctor’s handbook and say, “Times change and so must we.”

I don’t want to have to be in front of my TV waiting for the evening newscast at the right time. That’s such a 20th century way of getting the news.

Also, the ratings for local news broadcasts are dropping. In 2017, it was reported that only 37 percent of people get their news from their local news station, according to the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, 50-52 percent of millennials are getting their news from the internet through sources and news publishers that share their content on Facebook and Twitter.

It had also been reported in 2017 that only 18 percent of people between the ages of 18-29 get their news from local news outlets. Those numbers are staggering already and I believe that they are only going to get lower from here as we put our lives on the internet.

At the end of the day, if the way we get the news changes through apps and services like the Apple News app, Cheddar (the Internet-based cable network-like news channel) and even local news apps like NewsON that show that we can change the way we get and watch the news, then local news outlets need to adapt to the changes of our ever-changing society.

Those changes will keep them relevant and innovative for the current millennial and Gen Z generations, as well as the generations to come.

David Becker
Author: David Becker

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