Here’s how to save ABC News

Jon Friedman asks a good question this morning: Can anything save ABC News from extinction? Friedman’s a smart guy, and like others who’ve asked this question, he points to the network’s lack of a cable channel as a reason for its decline.

Now, I have the audacity to ask: Can anything save ABC News from extinction?

Right now — and for the foreseeable future — the smart answer would be a curt “no.”

The question took on deeper resonance Monday night when David Westin announced his plans to step down after running ABC News for nearly 14 years.

What Friedman and others don’t consider is that there is a gaping opportunity for somebody at the network level to lead the way in developing an international real-time news service. The online audience for news is M‑F, 8am-5pm. We have discovered in working with our local media clients that there is a tremendous appetite for what we call “Continuous News” in that daypart. People are at the office or working somehow. They want to know what’s going on. They don’t need a neatly-packaged, finished service. They need real-time news, or as Dave Winer originally pegged it, “news as a river.”

CNN and the NYT both provide a version of this, off their main channels, but nobody says, “Stop the presses! We’re the real-time champion.”

And the ability to integrate such a feed (or portions thereof) into a local level feed is an opportunity just waiting to happen.

So my answer doesn’t involve old school competition but rather leap-frogging everybody and making a solid play for the future.

Hmm. Let’s see. Terry Heaton, president of ABC News. Nah. It’ll never happen. Friedman’s right. They just need a cable channel and everything will be fine.


  1. I still don’t like that I get recorded as a Facebook “like” every time I land on one of your blog pages. But I’m not going to raise an objection to your nomination of yourself as President of ABC News.

  2. But, Ron, you DO like me, right?

    I’m not sure why that happens, unless you at one time pressed the like button. You should be able to control that from FB.

  3. Of course… that’s why I’m down with your nomination as prez of ABC News. But I definitely didn’t hit the like button on this post…it was set to like the minute I landed on it. I may have liked your whole blog at some point, and I know I’ve hit like on some other posts, but not this one. This has happened a couple of times.. reluctant to hit “unlike” though, because I’m not clear… does that just deactivate the “like”, or does it actually appear as “unlike”? (which would also not be accurate).

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