National News in Local Newscasts: Readers React

By Doug Drew Comment

In my last article I touched on a rather controversial subject, the place national and international news has in a local newscast. In my article, I suggested that significant breaking national or international news not only has a place in a local newscast, but also can be a lead. A significant national or international story trumps a less significant local story, especially if it is “happening now.”

It’s not an issue of geography, it’s an issue of interest. If your local viewers are interested in the story, then it’s an issue of local interest, no matter “where” it occurs. This is particularly true in morning newscasts. Viewers wake up in the morning and want to know what significant stories occurred overnight anywhere in the world. In response to my article, I received a few emails from readers:

Explore local angles
Doug, you make a very good point on leading with a powerful national or international story on the local news segments. You missed a very good opportunity, however, to add that the local news segment writer or producer or whomever puts the words together might just pause and use some of the intelligence he or she thinks they have and give the story a local lead.

Oil spill follows Gulf platform explosion and collapse could be localized with several angles including what it might mean in gasoline availability and price, what environmental consequences might mean as far as local spill cleanup is handled, and on and on.

From an old newsman who wishes the young newsroom force would show a flicker of innovation and skills beyond just doing the job.

Vern Modeland

Network morning newscasts are three hours old out West
Doug, good article in Shoptalk on using national news in a local newscast. I concur. I may have missed this, but there’s also the time difference for west coast stations. The other morning here in Phoenix, the local NBC station said they would be joining the Today Show in New York with the latest on the oil rig story, and I thought: how misleading. You can’t have the latest with a news show taped three hours earlier.

Dan Davis

Don’t let viewers go to cable
You nailed it Doug! Ignoring breaking news forces viewers to turn to cable stations to get the real stories. It’s the old pebble in the pond. The ripple effect sometimes is global. I do not want “old” or regurgitated news about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow because it happened in nearby Podunk. Today, we are citizens of the world or I like to think so.

Another pet peeve: “For more on the story…go to our web site….” For god sakes, I am watching TV. Does this mean the anchor held back details and if so, why? I turn off the set and power up. I am no longer watching. I am glued to the computer– surfing, e-mailing, and tweeting. Now, the GM is scratching his or her head wondering why viewership is down. Duh?

Leave local for local stories
Doug, I have never agreed with local news using the scarce and valuable time they have to cover ground better handled by their affiliated network news department.

Unless a national story has a strong local component, it should be left to the national newscasts to report, leaving the local time for local stories.

Just one viewer’s opinion.

Richard D. Perez
Executive Director
Whitney Powers & Associates

Strong story, here or anywhere
Doug, just a quick note to say “AMEN!”

Our newscasts here at WISN focus on local stories. But our producers, managers and anchors do a great job of asking good questions and ultimately we run our lead story through a rigorous filter. We have no problem leading with national news if it’s the big news of the day. I have also preached the gospel of good storytelling. Lame and local does not trump strong and national. If it’s a strong story here or anywhere — your viewers will stay with you.

Thanks for today’s column. I am happily forwarding it to our producers.

Lori Waldon

Thanks for the feedback. If you want to respond to any of my articles or if you want to suggest a topic for a column, write to me at

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications.