No pressure, Michael

Business Week media columnist Jon Fine examines the VJ and citizens media movements in this week’s issue. The article features my client, WKRN-TV, and is a nice primer on what we’re doing in Nashville. The fact that the article is in Business Week is what makes it important, and the final paragraph is priceless, especially if you know Mike Sechrist (WKRN G.M.):

What happens with WKRN will provide early insight into how well this democratization — with all its delicious tinges of empowerment — can work in a mass-market business model. WKRN also trained local bloggers in video production, so they too may contribute news segments. Plenty of big-name players are tinkering around the edges with citizen-journalism. It’s harder to find a major-market network affiliate making such a far-reaching effort. Says Sechrist: “We are not going to go back.” No pressure, Michael, but the media world is watching. If it works, we might start tuning in at 11 again.
What most people don’t realize about all this is that it’s not a direct ratings’ ploy, although observers keep trying to make it one. Do we want to reinvent local news? Absolutely, but what’s so hugely significant about this is that we’re not going about it with a codified set of rules and a pre-set plan of you-do-this and you-do-that. We’re enterprising, evolving. We want the community — and especially the local blogosphere — to help us create something appealing to people who’ve given up on TV News. Former or non-TV news viewers: that, we think, is where the business flexibility exists, but we have to check a lot of our instincts at the door in order to play in their arena.

Revenue isn’t the problem for local media; audience is the problem, and we’ll never resolve that without listening first.

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