As amazing as this sounds in 2010, many traditional news organizations are essentially still experimenting with the Internet. For local TV stations, it’s not just a place for anchor bios anymore. But they still struggle with the Web as a place to break news. Streaming video on stories online versus on TV is still largely a balancing act. And Facebook and Twitter can be places for teases or headlines, but not always reporting.
One TV station, though, seems to be breaking the TV mold and entering a world we embraced when opening the doors of Tanner Friedman: multi-platform. If you work in or with the media, or you just pay attention to how news organizations do what they do, check out this piece by the non profit organization Newslab on a station in Topeka, Kansas. It may be a small market, but they employ big time thinking.
WIBW-TV is working hard to establish a brand as a news leader in its market. But that could be a challenge for other stations, especially in bigger markets. Those stations that have stuck too closely to the old “news, weather and sports” TV formats or those that have diluted their brands by too closely resembling the mock newscasts on The Onion’s Youtube channel have their work cut out for them. They’ll need a complete rebranding at a time when marketing resources, even for TV stations, are hard to come by.
What we’re seeing out of Topeka is a hopeful sign that TV stations can see their viewers as customers who are choosing to receive information in new and variable ways. That’s a departure from the days when I worked in TV, when we all watched three TVs side-by-side-by-side in the newsroom and acted as if our viewers behaved in the same way.