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Going, Going, Gone!

March 30, 2009

“Watch us, or we’ll be fired!”  The billboard featuring a morning TV news team from another city was pretty funny years ago when it went up.   Today, it’s hard for any of us in TV news to find the humor.    The TV news industry has fallen on hard times with shrinking viewership, shrinking revenues and rising production costs.   Stations across the country are laying off news staffers left and right.    Anchors and reporters who have been part of the community for years have been let go.   The 6 O’clock news is just not appointment television for most people anymore.  They’re too busy.  

It’s even tougher right now in the newspaper business.  Newspapers in our country are in real economic trouble.  It’s expensive to print them, not to mention the cost to deliver them right to your front door every day.   Several major cities including Detroit have seen their papers go to two- or three-days a week print…with stories online-only the other days.   Recently, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News just gave up, giving hundreds of employees their pink slips.     Readers there are lucky though; they still have The Denver Post.   

I must tell you, there is nothing I like better in the morning than to grab a cup of coffee and curl up on the couch with my morning newspaper.  I like the feel  of the paper.  I like the “jump” of the story from one page to another.  I like to skim the headlines to decide which story I’ll read first.  I like to do the crossword puzzle and sudoku with my pencil.   I was greatly relieved to hear the Toledo Blade would shrink the size of its paper by one inch to save money, and stay in the paper business.   

I don’t want to lose that…but it becomes a real possibility as more and more people look online to get their news.  And why not?  You can get it there for free, right?   Well maybe I don’t want to be attached to my computer or my cell phone when I’m reading the paper.  I want to read the PAPER.    More importantly, we as news consumers need to think hard about what kind of society we will live in if we lose our local news sources. 

We take them for granted.   But if those news sources go away…who holds our elected officials responsible?  Who investigates wrongdoing at the factory your spouse and friends work?   Who publicizes a local cancer cluster until the Ohio EPA can no longer ignore it and must test to find the source so no more children die?   It’s something to think about. 

There’s no denying we are on the cusp of a change in the way local news is delivered.  And even though the internet gives us another delivery tool, it can’t be the only tool.  At least not until newspapers and TV stations can figure out a way to make money and stay in business doing it that way.     We are lucky in Northwest Ohio to have The Toledo Blade, The Toledo Free Press and all the other local papers which investigate, inform and entertain.   We’re lucky to have local TV News stations like WTOL to bring those stories to life with video and live immediacy.     

I don’t think anyone wants to see any of us go out of business, and that’s where we can all take action:  READ the local newspapers, WATCH your local TV stations, LISTEN to local radio.   Otherwise, it will be too late.  We will all be going…going…gone!

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9 comments

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).


  2. Chrys, greetings from a former TV newsie from NE Ohio. Love the blog. Added you to my blogroll. Cheers! 🙂


  3. Nice post. It contains a lot of first hand knowledge and relevant information. But, you knew there was a but somewhere, maybe it’s time that local media begins to look at other options to reach their viewers, listeners, and readers.

    WTOL seems to do a nice job of reaching out to their market in multiple ways and let the viewers decide how they want to consume the news. Their website has live streams (I think, not positive), live blogs, and message boards among other things that a user can participate in. They are doing all the right things.

    The media has to adapt to emerging technologies. They have to see the value in offering services to their consumers, web or otherwise.

    Let’s use a radio program as an example. If I have a radio program that is losing listeners, I have to ask myself why. Chances are they are not by a radio, but I’ll almost guarantee they are near a computer, or they have an Ipod or other mp3 player. Why not live streaming radio, or a podcast? Take the media to the consumer.

    Of course these are my opinions, and I am into technology. But you have to admit the world we live in is changing rapidly, we have to adapt or get left behind.

    Scott Radcliff


  4. You’re right, Scott! We’re trying to adapt…and that’s the challenge. Trying to figure out how to fill the needs of the viewers…and still making money to pay the bills! My fear is that they may not figure that out fast enough…and we may end up losing some of those reporters/investigators, etc. Thank you so much for your comment!! If you ever have any suggestions or insight you’d like to share, feel free to email me at cpeterson@wtol.com!


  5. Thank you so much!! Cheers to you too!


  6. You betcha! I saw you were on Twitter, I followed you. I bet you would get some great insight at our next tweet-up, some great local people there.

    Scott Radcliff


  7. Hi Chrys,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I agree with you, nothing like ‘holding’ the news in your hand. I hope that more newspapers can make creative choices to keep printing the news, such as The Blade. I do try to keep my 6 o’clock news appointment each night. I wonder if, along with all the important investigative news stories, WTOL could make an effort for one postive local news story each day. If we could always look forward to just one happy news story, perhaps others would again make it a point to keep their 6 o’clock news appointments. Just a suggestion from one of many looking for a small ray of sunshine each day, or even better, a happy local news story.
    Keep smiling…


  8. Thanks for the input, Dawn! I will pass along your comments to our news staff! We try really hard to give positive news too. I know sometimes it seems like all the news is negative. Thanks for watching and we’ll keep trying!! 🙂


  9. Hello in response to your blog, I feel the truth of the matter is that no one is actually asking the hard questions anymore. For instance with the layoff of 150 police officers why is city counsel not being put on the HOT seat for approving 9.7 million dollars of the taxpayers money for garbage cans.
    Talk about adding insult to injury you do a story on a counsel members district of what you called “the dirty dozen”, if he was so concerned about his community why did he vote for garbage cans instead of police officers.

    That in my humble mind is why the big decline in viewers.

    Thanks



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