TV newspeople: You are your own worst enemy

To TV newspeople everywhere:

My work as a new media consultant to the local TV industry gives me unique insight into the economic problems facing the industry. These problems are very real, and what you think about them doesn’t matter. What does matter is your reaction, and I hear two constant refrains that are deeply troubling as the industry makes its necessary transformation into multimedia distributors.

One, TV newspeople are reticent to get involved on the Web side of their stations. While I’m sure a lack of knowledge contributes to this, there is a sense that newsroom employees view the Internet as a bastard stepchild. If true, this is appallingly short-sighted and extremely self-destructive. I don’t care what your current priorities are, you are contributing to the demise of your industry by not personally gaining the skills necessary to compete in a multimedia world and applying them in your current position. What are you waiting for? Does somebody need to hold you by your little hand? Get a spine, for crying out loud, and jump in with both feet. Denying the realities of the shift from broadcasting to the Internet only accelerates your own obsolescence. Why on earth would you do that?

Where is the passion to get out in front of where the industry is going? TV newspeople are generally curious and intelligent, so this puzzles me. If you’re not moving in that direction, you’re moving in the opposite direction, for there is no standing still in this rapidly changing environment. I’m reminded of the FedEx commercial where the woman informs the new worker that his help is needed. Upon learning that the problem is in shipping, he says, “But I have an MBA.”

Secondly, TV newspeople are reluctant to assist in the economic well-being of the companies for which they work. This is a very dangerous time for broadcasting. 2005 is the nervous breakdown year, and yet you are concerned with your resume tape and growing your broadcasting career while the foundation upon which it’s built is crumbling. Again, you are supposedly intelligent people. Why would you do that? I cringe when I read the threads at various industry discussion boards, for they reveal a group of people oblivious to reality, taken with their own importance, and cavalier in their attitudes towards others. Topics like “What’s a good second or third station market?” drive me up the wall, because they reveal a core belief that the career ladder is unaffected by economic pressures on the industry — that everything’s better farther up the ladder. It isn’t.

I’m not talking about pay cuts and such. I’m talking about efficiencies and hard work. You are in the same boat as your employer. You can bail water or you can be dead weight. Which will it be?

Comments

  1. Mr. Heaton, I just started reading your Blog last week and find it stimulating, provocative, and challenging. I agree America and most of the world is trapped between two colossal competing cultures: TV and Internet. By lamenting the passivity and inaction of TV newspeople to embrace and harness the power of the Internet you identify the crux of the matter. TV created most TV newspeople. TV raised them to be “cool.” Passivity and complacency are the essential ingredients of coolness. It appears “cool” TV newspeople are on a train to nowhere. They think they are going somewhere but they aren’t.

  2. Thanks, J.R., and welcome to the site. Now get out there and make a difference in your world!

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