Lots of News, Little Substance, FCC Says

When it comes to news, consumers are being offered more choices than ever but little information on important events nearby, according to a new FCC report, “Information Needs of Communities.”

The report, which has been 18 months in the making, outlines how the media has changed dramatically within the last decade. As advertising moves online to Craigslist and other websites, newspapers are closing and cutting staff, which means fewer reporters to write in-depth stories on institutions that really impact people’s daily lives, such as city councils, schools and local developers.

Dramatic? Yes. C-Net declared that the internet helped “suffocate local news.”

“Thanks to digital technologies, we have more media sources than ever to get our news from, but when it comes to covering town halls, school boards, courts, and other local news, they mostly suck,” the site reads.

So what the FCC is saying is we have become a nation of mass media covering only the Casey Anthony trial, sex scandals, and Kim Kardashian’s boyfriends.

The FCC recommends new offerings to viewers, such as a local version of C-SPAN. It reads: “We also would like to see public TV consider the potential of state public affairs networks (SPANs) as a possible form of programming on their multicast channels. Perhaps [the Center for Public Broadcasting] could provide extra funding to public TV stations that provide carriage for such operations.”

While none of the FCC reports’ findings are a shock, PR pros can be reminded of what is missing in news coverage, and therefore how to pitch differently. Seek out nontraditional and local news sources, even if they are just popular news blogs. Find the local angle. Get to know the editors of each Patch.com site in your target areas.