Outlook for Television News and Its Audience | Print |
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Written by Kelsea Wasung   

Although research conducted by Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism: The State of the Media reflected on the economic decline of local news television stations, shrinking staffs, and the sharing of news content among stations, there is still hope for television reporters.

At the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Bob Papper of Hofstra University reported 45 percent of station revenue came from TV news.

Papper also noted TV news is covering more mediums by turning to social media sites and posting its content on the web. The average local broadcaster’s salary is even up by 2.5 percent.

With these positive statistics, it seems that TV news may just be going through a rough patch with the creation of new technology. But once TV broadcasters learn how to use this technology to their advantage, the state of television news will hopefully improve.

How people get their news

In a survey by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans said they watched the news on TV the day before. This number has not changed much over the last ten years, which is reassuring to television reporters that viewership has remained stable.

However, using the Internet to consume news is a growing trend.

In a Pew Internet report, it states, after local and national television news, the Internet is the most used platform to consume news. It also says 92 percent of Americans consume news using multiple platforms.

The chart below, made by the Pew Research Center, shows the percentage of how people of different ages consume news.

Using the Internet to increase viewership

It is beneficial for television news stations to use websites and social media to add to their content and expand audience viewership.

With station websites, news stations can delve deeper into the content of a one-minute-and-thirty-seconds video package.

Using social media sites, such as having a Twitter account or Facebook fan page, enables communication and interaction between the viewer and the reporter because the viewer is able to give feedback to the reporter or comment on a report, and the reporter can respond.

This communication creates a relationship between the newscasters and viewers, and therefore, the potential for more loyal audience members.

As seen from the chart above, a larger percent of people over the age of 40 turn to the TV for news compared to people under the age of 39. Using Twitter could help increase younger viewership because 33 percent of Twitter users are between 18 and 29 years old, while 22 percent are between 30 and 49 years old.

If a Twitter user sees a tweet about the latest story a reporter is covering or a link to a video package, they might be more drawn to the station and could become another viewer.

Know the demographics of your audience to improve viewership

Reporters should familiarize themselves with the cities and the states in which they work. Know the demographics of your viewers and what interests them.

If you are a reporter working at a station in a military town, try to find story ideas or angles that relate to or affect the military or their families. If you live in an eco-friendly community, try to find stories about the environment or tie it into your story.

People like to hear about things that directly impact them or are relatable. Knowing who lives in the city you are covering can help produce more engaging stories if the reporter considers the audiences’ interests.

When pitching story ideas, think about…
1. Who cares? Who does this affect?
2. What is the impact?
3. How can I make this story more interesting for my audience?

As a journalist, although you might want to make a story more interesting, it is important to be as objective as possible. Journalist should strive to incorporate as many viewpoints on a story as possible so viewers are well informed of differing opinions.

Unbiased reporting will also add interest to the story due to conflicting views.

When covering a story, do so with an open mind. If you look for facts that only support your opinion of the story, a lot of important information could be missed.

Kelsea Wasung is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. She is also enrolled in Barrett the Honors College and is expected to graduate with her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in 2013. Kelsea has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge with others. When she graduates she hopes to work as a field reporter, and eventually an anchor with a major network.

Kelsea writes her articles based off questions she has as a college reporter. She analyzes the work of other broadcasters to discover the best techniques they use and also researches broadcast topics of interest.


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