National News in Local Morning Newscasts

By Doug Drew 

One of the most interesting pieces of information that came out of the latest Pew Research Study was about how viewers rely on television for national and international news:

The poll finds that television remains the dominant news source for the public, with 71% saying they get most of their national and international news from television while 70% of those younger than 30 say they get most of their national and international news from television. Among those 62% get most national and international news from television, while 54% cite the internet.
Pew Research, September 13, 2009

National and International news is extremely important in the morning. For one thing, viewers want to know what happened in the world overnight when they wake up. Research shows most Americans still believe there will be another terrorist attack in this country and one of the primary reasons for viewers turning on the morning news is to reassure themselves that all is safe.


In addition, it’s often the international and national news from which you will need to rely on to make sure your news content is fresh. In fact, as the show goes along, you want to start dumping as much news as you can and replacing it with fresh content. Lets face it, most of your local news stories are old, yesterday’s news. You want to replace those stories as fast as you can as the show goes along.

This doesn’t mean you only do national news, and it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time on those stories. If there is a major national story developing, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC will likely devote extensive coverage. That’s fine. But you need to acknowledge it. Your viewers are busy in the morning. They want one stop shopping. They don’t have the time to go “searching” for the news, so make it easy on them and include ALL the news.

Anywhere, Everywhere
Broaden your vision of where to look for the news. Think “Anywhere, Everywhere.” Use all your feed sources, wires, the internet, etc. It may be 5am your time, but it’s already middle of the day in other parts of the world. Somewhere something is happening. If a plane crashes in Paris killing 100 people, it’s of interest whether you live in Fresno or Framingham. If the Berlin Opera House is going up in flames, take it live. If a school bus has overturned in Maryland, take it live. It doesn’t matter where you are. If Joe Biden has just made an embarrassing statement about the economy, get it on the air quickly. If it is new, significant, and happening now, work hard to show your viewers that the news is changing and you are constantly updating your newscast.

Local is not an issue of geography. It’s an issue of interest. If it’s interesting to your local viewers, then it’s a story of “local interest” no matter where it occurred.

The key is dumping the old stuff as fast as possible and working in the new stories. Think: HAPPENING NOW. If something is happening now (no matter where it’s occurring) it’s probably better than that vo from yesterday.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at