So We Bid Goodbye to Another Year and Look Forward to What 2008 Has to Offer

Wow, am I glad to see 2007 pass into history. I really can’t put my finger on it but 2007 was, …..well strange. Not just from a news perspective but all the way around. I thought it was just me but I’ve talked to several people and they kinda had the same feeling. From a news standpoint there was the whole Anna Nicole Smith thing that I thought would never go away. There was what seems to be the never ending political campaigning going on in Iowa and New Hampshire and I like politics (not like my wife does, mind you). Locally there was the West Tennessee preacher’s wife shooting trial, the local politician (you pick which one) caught with his/her hand in the till court date/trial, the ugliness that became the Memphis mayor’s race and the shooting of a little boy in West Memphis. Except for the preacher’s wife case, everything else managed to get turned into a “race” thing. Yes, I’m glad 2007 is behind us.

2008 can be the year when ALL stations in Memphis end up on a more equal footing. Folks will have to turn to a new place to get themselves a dose of Andy Wise. Even though he starts his new gig Wednesday I think at WMC, for now he’s supposed to be off air until his non-compete runs out. We’ll have to see if anyone tries to stretch what is considered “out of sight”. Don’t think that WREG isn’t going to be watching ready to pounce at the first hint that AW is breaking any part of that non-compete. In the meantime WREG will need to scramble to fill the void and get somebody “On Your Side”, which as someone once pointed out makes the reporting “not fair and balanced”. Shouldn’t a reporter be on everyone’s side? If they are on someone’s side then that means they are NOT on someone else’s side. How can they be objective?  Anyway, you get my point.

Some food for thought at we enter the first week of 2008. I ran across an interview with a former anchor in Philadelphia who had some interesting points to make about local news. While Larry Kane was talking specifically about the Philly market, his observations hold true for all markets IMHO. He talks about how “news talent is over-rated”. He talks about what makes a good anchor and why an anchor won’t last if he or she is not out on the streets covering the news and instead remains anchored to the desk. He also pointed out that education and local politics are UNDER covered and that a soundbite with a politician doesn’t amount to real news coverage. Maybe that’s how WREG should be “On Our Side’ instead of the “Consumer Thing”.  Will any station in Memphis give serious coverage to education or politics?  I think I have a much better chance of losing 15 pounds this year than that type of news coverage occurring in Memphis. Some have tried but it’s just not sexy enough.  I think it takes too much time, and effort which too many newsrooms don’t have.

Finally, I had a friendly discussion recently about how I referred to the rankings of stations in the Memphis market. I think it’s safe to say that the ratings are bragging points for news operations and selling points for sales people trying to get advertising time sold. I would bet that most viewers really don’t care which station is Number 1. They either like what they see or they don’t.  I still contend that the ratings/households/demographics can say what you want them to say if you break them down enough.   I lifted this quote from a comment made by a reader of the Larry Kane story mentioned previously:  “Being a #1 station doesn’t make you the best. It means the most people watch you. Being the best station means covering the best stories…….”.     As for my previous postings on which station in Memphis might be the most desirable to own, this is what “The GM” had to say in a previous post:

I do think many on this blog underrate the value of WHBQ in Memphis. This station is one of the stronger FOX stations in the US. With Memphis being a majority African American city and with WHBQ’s programming mix, FOX13 could very well be #1 some day soon. No, I’m not into the egg nog. Just look at how strong WLMT was as a UPN and how the switch to CW affected their numbers. Strong ethnic programming on both the network and syndication side pays off.

If I had a choice, I’d rather own/run WHBQ — from a pure money perspective. WREG has too much legacy in the form of high news costs. I also believe the internal culture of “we’ve always done it this way” would be more difficult to change than a hungry WHBQ.

As I said, food for thought.  Happy New Year.

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3 Comments on “So We Bid Goodbye to Another Year and Look Forward to What 2008 Has to Offer”

  1. autoegocrat Says:

    You Don’t Understand Our Audience.

    A must-read insider’s look at the GE/NBC corporate culture.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    Autoegocrat, thanks for sharing. It makes for an interesting read. Also, for those who might care, the comments are still coming in on the Andy Wise post from two weeks ago.

  3. the tall tv guy Says:

    Joe, what’s been your experience with Andy?

    Interesting for the GM to have ch 13 over ch 3. Ch 13 has come a long way. I remember when it was a RKO station and after a couple of short term ownership changes, Fox pumped $$ into the station, especially in the news department. Ch 3 does have more overhead and is probably tougher to make a profit there. I may be wrong, but it appears there’s more talent turnover at Ch 3 now than the others. That’s not good.

    Personally, I’m looking forward to 2008 as well. After being laid off in late ’06 and doing contract work for months in ’07, I’m still optimistic for a permanent position. It’s a very competitive market for accountants in the Memphis area, even with 20+ years experience. But it takes one opportunity…

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