Shame on Some Local TV Coverage?

Since I started this blog a few years back I get the occasional email from someone wanting me to help solve a problem here in the Memphis area.  Sometimes they are looking for Andy Wise specifically, sometimes they’re just looking to contact the local “on-your-side/problem-solving/get-in-your face team or whatever the marketing people at a particular station choses to call their consumer watchdog/bulldog/chihuahua reporter team this week.

So the latest rant I received is this one that I’m re-posting as I received it here:

I cannot help but wonder why WREG chose to report a simple accident on Elliston which occured today (4-12-09) in their ‘CRIME IN MEMPHIS’ segment in this evening’s news.

A police cruiser had collided with another vehicle which had reportedly, run a stop sign at Elliston and Green Dolphin and the police cruiser wound up in the front yard of a home where “chitren” were participating in an easter egg hunt.

In my opinion, WREG tried their best to portray the police officer as having commited some ‘crime’ and shed a bad light on the Memphis Police Department when in fact, nothing at all had happened except a simple traffic accident!!!


One of the reasons I’m posting this is because of some research I recently  ran across.  For the record, I’m not saying it’s new, I’m just saying I recently ran across it.  The research says that a survey shows that 87-percent of people stopped doing business with a company because of bad service. This is quite significant when you conside that back in 2006, that number was at 68-percent. And that research shows that a dissatisfied customer will tell 20 people about that bad experience.   Now, I’m not saying that bad service is the reason that people are not watching as much local TV news as they used to but I would think that if the customer is NOT getting what he or she wants, then that can relate, IMHO, to bad service.  And I think the number “20” is extremely low in this age of blogging, twittering, emails and text messaging.   The GM has said it’s about branding and weather is Numero Uno as to why locals turn to a local TV station.  So I would say it is incumbent on a local TV station to not only deliver what they promise but NOT be peddling crap with it.  While they already play to the lowest common denominator, maybe they should NOT be too condescending in whatever they do.  Afterall, nobody likes to feel they are being talked down to and when someone gets to the point that they will write and complain to anyone who will listen as the person did who wrote to me, then perhaps it is time to step back and take a long hard look at what you are selling.

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11 Comments on “Shame on Some Local TV Coverage?”

  1. lead pipe Says:

    joe, me thinks you swallowed the cool aid. did you see the story first hand, or just take the opinion of the writer as fact? I saw the story, it mentioned another car running a stop, the police car having to avoid a wreck, and the almost tragedy of a police car running into a group of kids celebrating easter in their yard. I see this as a tragedy avoided on a holiday, story. how is that shedding bad light on police officer?

  2. the tall tv guy Says:


    I saw that story about the police cruiser accident and thought it must have been a slow news day. No one seemed to be hurt and could be a case of trying to make something big out of a minor accident.

    Not too long ago, I worked in the local office of a national retail chain. The consumer is very sensitive to bad service. It’s nearly impossible to get them to return. The lower numbers in the past could reflect a monopoly in that area or inferior products from a competitor. I’m not surprised on telling 20 people either. If you’ve had a bad experience, you’ll probably tell someone to avoid that business and go elsewhere.

    With the internet, it’s easier to warn others. My
    family had problems during an overnight stay at a hotel in western Arkansas during the holidays. I went to the third party booking site and added a negative comment about the place. Be careful doing this. I complained about a fast food place on their internet site a few years ago. I started getting a lot of spam from them releasing my email address to marketers. That didn’t help matters.

  3. Doug Johnson Says:

    As you know, I’m not one to make excuses for folk. Certainly, a police cruiser ending up in somebody’s front yard during an Easter egg hunt is good TV, it doesn’t fall under the “Crime in Memphis” heading.

    And while I’m not knocking any hard working producer, there are fewer checks and balances on the weekend. It’s possible that this may be a case of police car + accident = crime graphic. I saw the video, but did not hear the way the story was written. Still, I find it hard to believe the reporter was trying to blame the officer. Is it possible that a witness did the blaming?

    I know how it is when people get to rantin’, so I’ll just respect the ranter’s opinion, as I will yours… except to say sometimes the crap peddling is inadvertent.

  4. joelarkins Says:

    Lead Pipe,
    No, I don’t consider re-posting the complaint sent to me to be swallowing the kool-aid, I just shared what somebody who was P-Oed sent to me because this person thought I had some sort of hook-up with the media. I do not. I didn’t see the story and I don’t have a dog in this particular fight. It just happened to be this station. It very well could have been someone else.
    I was merely sharing the perception of this particular viewer. Was it a legitimate story? I can’t say. At least two people (the original poster and the tall TV guy) seem to think it may have been over-played. And those who have been in the business know that depending on what is happening on any given day that some days a multiple shooting might not lead the news while on another day, the three-legged chicken story could almost be your lead story.

  5. lead pipe Says:

    joe, I agree with the previous posters, weak story, maybe spot news on the weekend on a slow day. maybe even over played. I guess I am confused as to how the original rant segued into customer satisfaction surveys. I would like to think that a product would be judged on its long term, over all consistency, as opposed to isolated incidents that don’t reflect the complete package. thank you for this forum, joe!

  6. MJC Says:

    I disagree with the premise that peoople aren’t watching local TV as much. Sure cable, satellite and internet cut into the monopoly TV had. However, would you subscribe to a cable or satellite provider that did not offer your local stations? Most won’t. Also, there is research that in a recession and this one in particular, news viewing increases as does overall TV viewing.

    Regarding the Easter Egg Crash. Holiday weekend; thin staffing to begin with; kids in danger; good pictures; other parents can relate. I don’t see a problem with the story. It captures viewers attention. If it hadn’t ended up in the front yard and stayed on the street — no story.

    The GM

  7. joelarkins Says:

    Well, it may be a stretch but here goes. My tie-in to customer satisfaction is this: Customers in general don’t like confrontation so they generally won’t say anything to the business. In fact, customers will often go somewhere else rather than complain to whatever business because it’s just easier that way. Whether it’s a company selling widgets or they don’t like the way someone starched their shirts, or in this case, they didn’t like the story. The customer/viewer may use that as an excuse to go somewhere else. When they DO start complaining, how they perceive their opinion might be received (real or imagined) or how they are treated (real or imagined) can determine whether they will stick around. This person who complained to me may have an ax to grind with this particular station or maybe just wanted to complain to someone who might listen. The point I was making about customer service boils down to this: It’s easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer/viewer than trying to attract new ones. I got the impression this viewer/customer didn’t think the TV station was being fair in the story and that may help determine whether they tune in again or go somewhere else. Who know what trips someone’s buttons these days.
    And as, always thanks for checking in.

  8. MJC Says:

    If customers or viewers don’t complain directly to the station, how can the station help correct the situation?

    I love it when viewers contact me. Most are by email now. I do return every email or phone call I receive. Most are surprised someone from the station would call back and most are so disarmed that they end up telling me how much they love the station and they really didn’t mean to sound as indignant as they did. The lesson, stay in contact with your customers — engage them; listen to them; treat them with respect — that builds loyalty.

    The GM

  9. joelarkins Says:

    You are spot on there The GM. When someone of authority, such as yourself, or someone who has a high profile, such as an on-air person takes time to call back, write back or email back, that sends the message that the person who called or wrote to complain is a valued customer/viewer and that really stays with them. It’s been said that people may not remember what was said to them but they remember how you made them feel.

    As to how can you help someone who doesn’t complain directly to the station/business, that’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer.

  10. The GM Says:

    Customer service is a lost art.

  11. Jeff Says:

    As you say, Joe, if it weren’t for weather, nobody would watch the local news – period. Which is funny, because weather forecasting is almost as reliable as astrology.

    I don’t watch local news at all, because I can’t get inaccurate weather predictions just about anywhere.

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