Lame Tips Kill A Newscast

By Doug Drew 

Too many newscasts are filled with the obvious. It’s one of the biggest reasons viewers are rejecting local news. Viewers tune in to learn something new, and what they often get instead is information they already know and stories that look the same as the ones from the day before.

Lame Tips
One of the biggest traps for this problem are in stories with “tips.” Most tips are really lame. Avoid the lame tips!

Tips on saving energy:
Turn off the lights when leaving a room
Install energy saving light bulbs
Use fans instead of air conditioning
Install weather stripping


Save money on gas:
Accelerate gradually
Plan errands so you make less trips in the car
Make sure tires are properly inflated

How to avoid identity theft
Don’t use public wireless sites to make credit car purchases
Don’t care your social security card in your wallet or purse
Shred bank statements
Change your online passwords often

We’ve heard all those tips a million times. Viewers don’t want to waste their time watching a story about energy saving if they aren’t going to discover something new.

All the same news
I could go on and on. Newscasts are often riddled with the obvious. It’s one of the reasons many news viewers just don’t feel like tuning in as often as they used to. They often feel like everything we do in local news is the same. A house fire fatality could have been prevented if the family had a smoke detector, the two-car accident was caused by a drunk driver, and the shooting was the result of gang activity. Meth houses are in every neighborhood and we should all slow down in school zones.

It begins with the morning editorial meeting
Newsrooms must go beyond the obvious in coverage. This begins in the morning editorial meeting. If you are going to cover a topic that has been done before, you must find a new angle. If you can’t find anything new or different, is it really worth the time? Probably not. If there is nothing new, it is almost certainly not worth an entire reporter package. In the field, it’s critical to find something new and different. What makes the story different from the meth lab bust from last week?

Come to work with ideas
It doesn’t matter what your role is in the newsroom, voice your opinion if you hear the staff covering the same story that’s been done a hundred times before. Everyone in every newsroom should come in with fresh ideas, interesting stories. If you are working in the news business, no matter what it is you do, come to work with some story ideas. You are the eyes and ears of the station. Without you, your assignment staff will have to rely on the same press releases and scanner traffic the competition has. No matter how small or insignificant you think your idea is, don’t be afraid to suggest it. It might just be bigger thank you think. And more importantly, it might be something the viewer hasn’t seen or head before, and that’s exactly what your viewers are seeking.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. He can be reached at