Time To Stop "Counting The Cameras"

For months, we have been advising you to adjust your expectations when inviting media to “come out” and cover your news stories on-site. It just doesn’t happen like it used to.  Too many journalists are “chained to their desks” because of slashed budgets and scant resources.

For years, we have shaken our heads at clients who measure the success of a PR initiative by counting the TV cameras at an event.  

Now, there is a new development that should, once and for all, force you to think differently.

Two prominent TV station owners, Fox and Scripps, whose groups overlap in three markets, announced today they have agreed to share news content in those markets – Detroit, Tampa and Phoenix.  Here’s the story from industry trade journal Broadcasting and Cable.

What this means is that for planned or staged news events, where a reporter is not necessary, like a simple press conference, local fair, concert or even a crime scene, one station will send a “pool” camera – meaning the other station will have access to the video shot on-scene.  That’s right – one camera representing two stations – separately owned and “competing” stations.  

The reason, regardless of what they say officially, is saving money – pure and simple.  Local TV stations are being hit hard by loss in advertising revenue.  Mainstays like car dealers and furniture stores just aren’t buying commercials.  

I won’t try to tell you what this means for journalism. That’s obvious.  What is not so obvious, as we see every day, is the lack of understanding of these media changes by people who claim to “know the media.”  Time to start getting it.  Things are different. Expectations should be too.