Thursday, September 21, 2006

More local media bites the dust

The road up Provin Mountain was remarkably steep and narrow and I remember clearly wondering what would happen if we met someone driving down. Luckily for us, that didn't happen.

I was on edge enough as I was on my way, along with my fellow teammates to appear on "As Schools Match Wits." I was nervous being on television and hoping we didn't make fools of ourselves.

I think I was glad that our principal, when making his regular announcements on the Granby High p.a. system, conveniently forgot to remind people to watch the show.

Of course when we were on a second year and he didn't plug the show I was cheesed.

Ah, high school!

I hadn't thought about my three times appearing on the local high school quiz show until last week when the news leaked out that one of the longest-running locally produced shows in the history of American television was being axed.

When I was a kid, the local television stations were filled with locally produced shows. Stations produced shows because they made money.

Locally produced shows stopped being moneymakers for stations years ago. It's more profitable to make a deal for a syndicated show than it is to try to produce something that competes against a syndicated show.

WWLP's management should be commended for upholding the tradition of local programming long after many other stations pulled the plug on their shows. It's a shame now that WWLP looks like any other NBC affiliate just like WGGB looks like any other ABC affiliate.

If you don't watch the local news, nothing is different.

Newspapers are cutting back and giving their readers more wire and syndicated stories to save money and be more profitable. Radio stations don't want to produce local programming beyond 10 a.m. Why should they if they can get programming for damn near free off a satellite dish?

And television stations boast how they cover their communities, but fill their news shows with stories picked up from the networks and fluff. I don't mind fluff, but give me local fluff, please.

We're all too willing to accept less and less information about our own communities. If we don't watch out our avenues to local information will be closed off.

Without local content decisions affecting large groups of people will be made by increasingly smaller groups of people. We will be reduced to a nation of whiners who sob about not knowing about an issue until it's too late.

Here's my suggestion: go to people who advertise in local media and become their customers. Tell them you saw their ad in a local media outlet. Encourage them to buy more advertising. Ask them to tell their advertising representatives that people need more local content.

In this business, cash is king. If people see the profitability in local programming and stories perhaps this trend can be reversed ever so slightly.

I can dream, can't I?

And a tip of my fez to Len Collamore and Phil Sherpardson, the gurus of my edition of "As Schools Match Wits."

This column represents the opinions of its author.
©2006 Gordon Michael Dobbs

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why I hate TV...sometimes

The other day, I had to go to the dedication of a new building, the headquarters of a non-profit that does a lot of good work.

A local congressman had been invited and I noticed the dedication was running late. He had not yet shown up, which is typical among many elected officials.

I thought we were back on schedule, but nope. There was more of a delay. Then I noticed a TV newscrew walking in.

Now, make no mistake about it, but many print people are envious of their TV counterparts. Television attracts attention from the public and newsmakers that print never does. Since I have a body and face built for radio and print, I harbor little desire to be on television, although I've made some appearances on a locally produced PBS talking head show.

What astonishes me about people is that they are willing to run their events on TV's schedule and while they all profess to how important print is as the primary mans of communicating with the public, they get all over squishy when a camera comes on the scene.

Now I was on a tight schedule and I became increasingly annoyed when I saw the TV reporters do a stand-up with the director of the agency. I became actually angry when the same reporter pulled the congressman off his seat to do another stand-up.

The TV crew couldn't wait like the print reporters had to wait and the non-profit folks clearly wanted to oblige them.

Print is still the medium that endures. It's portable. clippable and easily reproduced. Slap a story in a scanner and you can have something digital to send around the world.

But it's not as sexy as being on the tube.

©2006 by Gordon Michael Dobbs. My words alone.