The Future of Television News

It’s not every day that I get to say I’ve heard about the future of TV news twice in one day.
It started when my lovely and talented bride heard a promo for on NPRadio Thursday morning about a report scheduled to run on “All Things Considered” in the afternoon. The report was about the VJ effort at WKRN-TV in Nashville. A lot of attention has been given to this and sister station KRON in San Francisco.
It was a good report IMHO except for the fact that the reporter said the VJs were required to “film” their own news stories. Come on NPR people, you know better than that. The rest of it was well done and balanced with people both for it and against it. Part of the report included a promo with former anchor and reporter at the station DOTR Jamey Tucker who is currently the Faith and Ethics reporter at WKRN. By the way, I chat with JT on a regular basis and he loves his gig at Channel 2 in Nashville. It sounds like it is a match made in Heaven, so to speak. If you want to read the story by Audie Cornish or listen to it, click on this link.
And in the second “future of television news” link, check out this. I’m not that computer savvy but this is how I understand it. The information (news) is compiled and then a computer generated person lays out the news in a three or four minute newscast from your computer. The current version looks like and admits she is from some video game and then starts talking about the events in the news. I can see how this has a great amount of potential although I think the current version is about as close to a news reader as Pong is to the current generation of video games. I can see an advanced Max Headroom kind of guy down the road and he or she will be a heck of a lot cheaper than even the current local anchor talking heads.
Just remember: We have seen the future and it is here. ( apologies to Pogo).

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9 Comments on “The Future of Television News”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Gee whizz Joe! A virtual Melissa Moon with brown hair!

    I don’t think this will take the place of live anchors. It’s like they said about virtual actors in movies or having a computer developed Humphrey Bogart in a today movie. Audiences will get tired of it knowing about the “man behind the curtain”.

    People still want people giving them their good or bad news and yes, even terrorizing them about their weather.

    Spielberg and Lucas both have said that there is now a plateau in CGI. Both are saying it’s back to the storyline to hold an audience not just the visual “tricks”.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I just hope nobody brings back Esmae Murphy.
    She had an eye that was so bad the good one kept looking at it.
    She was so ugly she could trick or treat over the phone.

  3. Joe Larkins Says:

    Actually I read recently on ShopTalk Watercooler where some folks were talking about Esme Murphy anchoring and how much they liked her. She has been reporting at WCCO in St.Paul/Minneapolis since about the time she left Memphis. She anchors a Sunday morning show at WCCO. Apparently she does a really good job and had several people singing her praises. You can check out her bio at WCCO at this link:

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Will they have a virtual Audrey Garrett? Or is virtual Hutch dead set against it?

  5. Candy Says:

    I really don’t see how disparaging someone’s looks like that is a useful comment. There are very few of us who look like models. And I would venture to say that many other people would have a different opinion on Ms. Murphy’s appearance.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Now really Candy…I think the Lady of the House, at stately Larkins Manner, would disagree about the model look remark. (I used to assume everybody from Kentucky wore overalls! Assumption is the mother of all screw ups)

    As to Ms. Murphy…it is very good to hear about an old friend still in the broadcast business, and doing well. Wonder what ever happened to Paula Haddock or Fran Fawcett? Any word Joe?

  7. Joe Larkins Says:

    I don’t know about Fran. Perhaps someone out there might know what she’s up to these days. As for Paula, the last I heard she was anchoring mornings at the ABC affiliate in Denver.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    what’s your take on the fire coverage Friday?

  9. Joan Carr Says:

    The VJ idea isn’t a new one. WAAY in Huntsville converted all its reporters and photogs to the VJ system back in 1993 or 1994. It didn’t work well at all. VJs were allowed to choose their own stories, instead of having them assigned to them. The station guru there at the time also had the bright idea of paying VJs per story. Vo’s were worth $5, vosot’s $10, etc., in addition to base salary. That was supposed to motivate people to do more work. (I can’t remember the actual amounts vo’s and vosot’s were worth, it’s been a while). The problem was, everyone could spend a few minutes putting together a bunch of vo’s and vosots to make a little extra cash and no one wanted to spend hours working on a story that was leadable. Since everyone decided their own assignments, reporters usually opted for the stories that were easy to turn instead of stories viewers would really want to see.
    I was the 6 & 10 o’clock producer there at the time and as a result of the BRILLIANT vj idea and other newsroom changes, I had a difficult time putting together a newscast that ANYONE would want to watch. I would wind up with 20 feature-type vo’s and vosots to fill the show with and no one seemed to be worried that there wasn’t a compelling story to lead with. WAAY went from a strong #1 to a dog #3 in about a year. I was under contract there, but fortunately had an out…and got out as fast as I could. I wanted out so bad I took an overnight shift DOTR, something I’d said I would NEVER do again.
    Although the vj idea sounds great, and the technology is now better suited for it than it was back in 1994, I’m still not convinced it’s the best thing for TV journalism since sliced bread. There’s a lot to be said for splitting the job and letting the photog focus on the visuals while the reporter makes calls and worries about writing the story. The right person can do both jobs, especially if they are very energetic and very highly motivated. That means kids right out of college. If the vj model is adopted by most stations, I think we’ll see most of the old timers get out of the business and youngsters will take their place. Is that really what we want?

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