Saving Local TV News Using Facebook

What does it mean when television station’s editorial meeting’s move away from the discussion of television production to Facebook hits and twitter followers?

The Denver Post TV critic, Joanne Ostrow, got a nice glimpse into a recent editorial meeting at a local Denver television station, and Ostrow came to the conclusion that local stations are surviving and even thriving in this new arena. Here’s a glimpse of an editorial meeting when you don’t just focus on the tube, but also how many Facebook friends and Twitter responses the station gets.

Making decisions about the day’s news, KCNC staffers frequently reference Facebook postings, online “hits” and Tweets from viewers. At a recent morning editorial meeting at Channel 4, editors gleefully noted that 12 people had commented on a topical story.
…”If 12 people comment within a minute, that’s unusual; that means (a story) has touched a nerve,” Wieland said. “It’s not just the number, but the type of person who communicates.” He likens the dozen commenters to the “messengers” in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” – it’s “the law of the few.” Those few tell people who tell people, and it becomes contagious.

Other outlets in the area have done other things, like dubbing an intern the “Facebook Girl” or creating a way for news tips through Twitter. But placing your stations future at the hands of 12 people or an intern seems like a lot to ask.
The jobs have changed in the newsroom, but the bigger question is, will this get people to watch local TV news again? That’s yet to be answered.