[opendtv] News; The News Is Over

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 5 May 2005 08:14:44 -0400

The News Is Over

May 5, 2005 12:00am
Source: Reed Business Information. All Rights Reserved.

Broadcasting and Cable:

There is a dramatic revolution taking place in=20
the news business today, and it isn't about=20
TV-anchor changes, scandals at storied newspapers=20
or embedded reporters. The future course of the=20
news, including the basic assumptions about how=20
we consume news and information and make=20
decisions in a democratic society, is being=20
altered by technology-savvy young people no=20
longer wedded to traditional news outlets or even=20
accessing news in traditional ways.

The future of the U.S. news industry is seriously=20
threatened by the seemingly irrevocable move by=20
young people away from traditional news sources.

It is an overwhelmingly challenging time in the=20
worlds of cable television and broadcast news, as=20
well as in print media. Young people are moving=20
away not just from television news to the=20
Internet but also from television in general.=20
This makes it difficult for TV-marketing=20
organizations to even reach the next generation=20
of news consumers, since many have already=20
abandoned TV for their computers.

Still, enterprising television executives do have=20
a variety of new tools and distribution=20
mechanisms at their disposal. Within the new NBC=20
Universal family, for example, there is an=20
abundance of opportunities with CNBC, MSNBC, USA=20
Network, the Sci Fi Channel and Bravo.

Some news organizations have already made a=20
promising start. Last summer, ABC News launched=20
ABC News Now, a subscription-based news network=20
designed to capture the desktop audience at work,=20
at school or on the move. It will be available on=20
broadband services, digital cable and wireless=20
services. Nothing like it has ever been tried=20
before in the U.S., and it clearly fills a void=20
in the ABC News distribution plan.

Success in these areas is critical for the=20
networks. "We would like to attract younger=20
viewers," says Bill Wheatley, recently promoted=20
to executive VP of news for NBC. "We know=20
advertisers will pay us more to reach them, and=20
NBC has long been accepted as a network with=20
appeal to younger people. But in news, the=20
challenge is great. The trick is that we are a=20
mass medium, and if we target young people too=20
regularly and too narrowly, we will lose other=20
parts of the audience. We may, though, come to a=20
point where we will have to create programs just=20
for younger viewers."

That is very likely what it is going to take to=20
change current trends for mainstream news=20
organizations. They are going to have to program=20
for the demographic if they are to retain=20
consequential news franchises.

As Ted Turner changed the game at a much=20
different moment in time with the invention of=20
CNN, and as Apple changed another game by=20
providing accessible music downloads, dramatic=20
moves-accompanied by the simultaneous but deft,=20
prudent tinkering of skilled print editors,=20
television producers, and digital-media=20
journalists and technologists-are unquestionably=20

Media consultant Brown, a former newspaper and=20
magazine reporter, was founding editor in chief=20
of MSNBC.com from 1996 to 2002, served as a=20
senior VP of RealNetworks and was a founder of=20
Court TV. His entire essay, "Abandoning the=20
News," written for Carnegie Corp., can be found=20
at www.carnegie.org/reporter .

<<Broadcasting and Cable -- 05/05/05>>

<< Copyright =A92005 Reed Business Information. All Rights Reserved. >>
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