Past the high-interest Presidential election cycle, we continue to ponder new brands for TV news. But how far can networks and stations go?
CNN looks to be getting a new senior executive, ex-NBCer Jeff Zucker, in an attempt to give the longtime established network a stronger, clearer identity.
Just reporting the news isn't enough any longer. You need to find a strong brand or voice -- a la Fox News, or more recently MSNBC, both of which take on controversial, opinionated sides of the news.
At the same time, the Washington Postsays there is a trend toward local stations looking less local -- that is, getting scripts and video from news services like CNN.
To be sure, local news services have been around for a long time. Stations may have had a troubling few years but having a clear local news presence -- if not a "brand" -- still gives them a clear differentiation with local viewers and advertisers from anything done digitally. Local TV news still represents a major chunk of the advertising revenues for most stations. They can't afford to scrimp.
On the digital side, there is still reticence to do anything drastic. For example, USA Today publisher Larry Kramer says the national newspaper isn't unique enough to charge for news -- that is to make it a pay news website site like The Wall Street Journal or, in part, The New York Times.
For the most part, national news is everywhere. But not local news. "Local coverage is valuable mostly because there aren't a lot of people doing it," Kramer told a recent Business Insider conference.
In the future, it will come down to information demand. What are consumers really going to need? Some TV platforms -- national and local -- are already ahead. Perhaps some lessons need to be learned all over again.
Discretion is the better part of so many things, including comments on commentary. Suffice it to say, that "in the future," news will NOT come down just to consumer "information demand" -- and branding. Journalistic success that serves the "public interest, convenience and necessity" (How quaint, but "how of the essence!") will demand the intelligence, intuition, insight, imagination and integrity of professional journalists -- all held together by the courage of their convictions.
To imply the future of news is about the future of "New" TV News Brands is part of the same sadly misguided and perhaps malignant mindset that believes psychiatry can be improved through branding. (See the NYTimes Sunday Magazine-http://nyti.ms/R5oFBO)
Offer the American Public what it really needs, and deserves, with respect to news and information and you have the "New TV News Brands." So where are they? Must we strain to see them from late November 2012? As Sondheim wrote of different matters: "Don't bother, they're here."