Now A Word for TV News Webmasters

The Web folks for TV news can have a tough job.  They’re trying to cope with getting stories posted to their websites and trying to make sure ad content is where it is supposed to be.  Sometimes the mojo just doesn’t work.  This was brought to my attention by my former co-worker and still very good friend Jack Church who was checking in on the WSMV-TV website which has ALL kinds of information about long-time local anchor Dan Miller’s passing and his memorial service.  He asked me if I had checked out the website to read any of the stuff about DM.  I’ve been out of town and haven’t had much time so with his urging, I went to the website.  Then I saw what he was talking about.  Immediately under the story with the headline of “Hundreds Attend Service for Dan Miller” was an ad featuring Hugh Downs.  So, what was Hugh hawking in this rotating ad?  A book titled Artery Clearing Secret.   Keep in mind that Mr. Miller died of a heart attack.  Now, maybe some don’t think of this as a big deal but an informal survey I conducted (three people) found that the ad’s positioning is in poor taste to say the least. Plus the fact that the WSMV website is plastered with all kinds of stories about Mr. Miller’s passing, I would think it would behoove someone to look over the content for such things.  On the other hand, maybe the sales department could use this as an opportunity to sell some ads for the local “heart healthy” clinic.  After all, times are tough these days and money IS money.

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6 Comments on “Now A Word for TV News Webmasters”

  1. The GM Says:

    Most likely that ad featuring Hugh Downs was a remnant ad. Not sold by the local sales department but by a third part seller of internet ads. Also, it is most probable not everyone saw the same ad. Since the internet is highly targeted, Mr. Church’s web surfing habits left cookies identifying him as a target for the artery clearing ad.

    Remanant ads are a pain. They are sold too cheap by the third party seller and they often conflict with the TV station’s affiliation. For example, my station is a traditional network affiliate. I cannot tell you the number of times we had to contact or web site managment company to have a competing network’s show taken off of our site.

    TV and web are the perfect combination but there remains lots of bugs to be worked-out.

    One last note, TV stations should not have web people. The web is everyone’s responsibility. It is the future and anyone in journalism must understand that posting their story for the web immediately is as important as making the 6p slot.

    The GM

  2. joelarkins Says:

    The GM, as always you bring up some good points. The ad featured on that particular website was a “rotating ad” and it changed ever so often if you stayed on the page. You also raised an issue about web masters. Is everyone in news at your station actively involved in posting content? Have there been issues about posting content and having everyone keeping an eye on the
    website so something “questionable” doesn’t get posted or have you found cases of “sorry, that’s not in my job description”. Just curious.

  3. The GM Says:

    It’s not perfect but it is a team effort. Changing the culture — the hearts and minds — took time. We’ve made tremendous progress. A strong partner in the form of the ND is critical. The “not in my job description” won’t get it. Don’t need folks like that in this day and age.

    We treat the web as another newscast. The web master is akin to a show producer. The web site has to to be actively updated 24/7 and that is everyone’s responsibility. We’re doing much more streaming — severe weather, newscasts when sports pre-empt, election coverage, debates, community events. We’r even developing web only local programs.

    Prime time for the web is during business hours because most folks don’t have a TV in their office but they have a computer with internet access. I am convinced that TV and the web are the perfect marriage and it is critical to our future to develop our brands on the web.

    All the best,
    The GM

  4. Miss J Says:


    I noticed it, too. It’s been near those stories all week. Could it be that the ads are subject generated? I recall seeing a LOT Downs’ ads around the time Tim Russert died last year.

    I, too, am an MTSU alum and I’m still in the area. Dan came back after the first semester of my freshman year. Over the past 18 years, I’ve started watching WTVF more because the production quality of WSMV (even in HD) and WKRN leave a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, I have a lot of respect for Dan as an anchor and consider him to be a class act.

    The night Dan died, I was listening to a popular sports show in Nashville. A local TV sports anchor was the guest, talking about the Masters. They all spoke with feigned envy when they mentioned how Dan used his hometown of Augusta an excuse to vacation that week — EVERY YEAR. They all laughed — including myself.

    The next morning I was walking out of my kitchen and towards the TV in the living room to turn it off when Steve Hayslip (yes, the one and only) came on during the 7:25 am cut-in to announce Dan’s death. I couldn’t believe it; I still can’t. Twelve hours earlier I was laughing at jokes about him at the Masters.

    I also thought the Nashville media did an excellent job on the coverage of Dan’s death and funeral. No one politicized the fact that he’s Marsha Blackburn’s (yes, the one and only) brother-in-law.

  5. the tall tv guy Says:


    Noticed the local paper’s website had an ad for Grizzlies’ tickets…the day after their season had ended.

    In the past, weekend sales ads have been shown after 9 pm on Sunday night and political ads running after the polls have closed.

    Over twenty years ago, an Abilene, TX mortuary was listed in the Yellow Pages under Frozen Foods – Wholesale.

    Sounds like inappropriate ad placement has reached the internet. With third parties involved, I hope there’s some proofing done in the future to avoid this.

    Miss J, I read your comment about Marsha Blackburn. How accurate were the allogations (by her opponent) last year of her finding high $ government jobs for her family? Is she popular among the voters in Middle TN? She seems to be on tv or radio often.

    Continue to enjoy your blog, Joe!

  6. Miss J Says:

    Tall TV Guy:

    They’re true; she pretty much set up her son-in-law up in the lobbying business. He worked as an aide to former U.S. Senator Bill Frist prior to her election in 2002; by 2003 he was a lobbyist.

    Marsha is VERY popular thanks to the income-tax battle — Williamson County loves her and the Nashville right-wing talk shows adore her. There aren’t many TV cameras she’ll shy away from, either. Her opponent had an identical record in the state Senate, but he didn’t have free advertising from WLAC and WWTN every afternoon. I’ve been around her personally and I found her to be arrogant and obnoxious — and those are her good qualities. You may find this hard to believe, but many people in the GOP can’t stand her. They’ll never admit it though — it would be political suicide.

    If she ever leaves office, expect State Senator Paul Stanley to become the “heir apparent” to her throne. He has done EVERYTHING — like naming his own daughter Mary Morgan after Marsha’s daughter — to be a member of Blackburn’s inner circle. Time will tell if his strategy works or not.

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