What Local News Can Learn From ’60 Minutes’

By Doug Drew 

The death of Don Hewitt this week has generated a lot of interest in the history of “60 Minutes.” The key to “60 Minutes'” success is in its stories. Viewers tune in because they know they are probably going to see something they haven’t seen before or learn something new. Stories in “60 Minutes” are all about discovery. As a viewer, you almost always discover something new and interesting in a “60 Minutes” piece. Watching a local newscast should be no different.

“News is all the same”
But one of the biggest complaints from viewers in research is that all the news is the same. Same stories day in and day out, and each station seems to have pretty much the same content. There are some stories that are “must-cover,” but each newscast, every day, has to have some unique content. If you don’t go “beyond the news of the day,” then viewers will grow weary of tuning in. You must set the expectation that every single newscast will have something viewers haven’t seen before. And even in those must-cover stories that everyone has, there should be some element of surprise or discovery.

Finding unique content
But where do you find those stories? They rarely present themselves in news releases, on the wires, or in any of the traditional ways newsrooms find content. Most enterprise stories have to be “discovered,” and that means every single news employee should be on the lookout for interesting things whether they are at work, at home, on their way into work, at church, at their kid’s baseball game, at the movies, on the internet, in a restaurant or at the gym.

Seeing the news
Anything you see that you find interesting might be a story. It could be a posting from one of your friends on their facebook profile. It could be a sign in a store window. It could be someone interesting standing on the street corner. News is everywhere, but it has to be spotted.

Be as valuable as possible
The best newsrooms are the ones that create their own content daily in addition to the given must-cover stories. It you are someone in the newsroom who is constantly pitching story ideas in the morning meetings, great! Keep it up! For those of you who don’t normally look for stories outside your regular work hours, keep in mind that with budget cuts and layoffs mounting each day, it’s best to make yourself as valuable as possible, and finding and suggesting stories is one good way to do that.

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