Where will you be when the two-hour season premiere of 48 Hours airs tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET? The show’s senior ep Susan Zirinsky knows where she will be… on Twitter. The TV veteran has grown accustomed to live-tweeting about the show and engaging with fans who have questions or comments via #48Hours.
“Saturday nights have not been my own for a long time,” Zirinsky told TVNewser. “I literally never make plans on a Saturday night.”
But what if she has a can’t-miss event during the airing of the show?
“I bring my iPad and go into the bathroom and I disappear for an hour,” she said. “Seriously, I have taken my iPad into a bathroom and tweeted for the hour. I tell people, ‘I have an obligation, I’ll be back in an hour and I’m not sick. Don’t worry.'”
Tomorrow’s Season 28 premiere features Susan Spencer‘s investigation into the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham and the life of her accused killer Jesse Matthew.
“The Hannah Graham case was really a case that lived in social media. Much more so than other missing cases. I don’t really have an explanation of why, it just exploded,” Zirinsky said. “People were hungry for information.”
Zirinsky credits the longevity of 48 Hours to the show’s willingness to stay with a story. They’ve often produced multiple episodes on a particular case before it’s even solved. The show has done several episodes on the Robert Durst case.
“You must, as a journalist, find relevance in the world because the cacophony out there is so pervasive that you really have to find the mechanism to break through and be heard,” Zirinsky said. “Being memorable, having people remember a story, that’s really what it’s about now.”
It’s also about engaging with loyal viewers on other platforms. That’s one of the reasons the show has launched a podcast.
“To do a podcast enabling us to tell the story in a different platform, but we do not take the [TV] show and cut it up. We really devote unique material and interviews,” Zirinsky said. “They are a rich tapestry of the story as it evolves.”
All of this outside viewer engagement isn’t all about the ratings. But it doesn’t hurt, Zirinsky said.
“I don’t look to my Twitter to increase a rating. I don’t look at the Facebook post to bring a bigger audience. I don’t look if the podcast is increasing our rating. I look at them as independent means to reach a wider audience,” Zirinsky said.