How to explode TV news in four easy steps

How to explode TV news in four easy steps

Try this:

1. Slice.

Cut up your shows into stories and put them all online.

After you air a story, it’s fishwrap. Nobody can see it. If they missed it, well, that’s tough for them. Is that any way to treat your public? Well, you don’t have to anymore.

You should put up every story you do — and not just as a stream but as files that the people can distribute on their own.

You can still make money on this — in fact, you’ll make new money: Put ads on the video; track those ads; and tack on a Creative Commons license that says people can distribute the video but cannnot muck with it. And you’ll find something magical will happen: Your audience will market your product for you and distribute it for you and it won’t cost you anything more. It’s free money, damnit. Tell that to your stockholders.

And while you’re at it, take your script for the segment and associate it with the video as meta data (that is, post it on a blog with a link to the video) so people can find your stories on search engines and then watch them.

This means that people who really want to see your stories and are interested in them can now do so. We’re no longer captive to your schedule and your selection; we can watch what interests us. We are in control.

The result: You will get a more interested and involved audience. You will get a bigger audience. You will get more people who will like what you do and start watching your old-fashioned shows. You will benefit. We will benefit.

If you really care about informing the public — which, of course, you do — then this is the first step to doing it a new and better way.

2. Add.

You have more material for every story you do: I’ve seen how much goes into a 3-minute piece and how much is left out.

Now in most cases, I do think that stuff that’s cut is extraneous to most people.

You’re right to edit and package. Keep it up.

And in the early days of online when news people thought this medium was all about getting more time to tell longer stories with more stuff and another chance to show off cute writing, I screamed in protest: No, your stories are already too long anyway. Find the nearest period!

But for those who are intensely interested in a story or who want to look deeper into what we say, why not put up all the rest of your material? Why throw it away? Put up entire interviews and do it in chunks so people people link directly to one piece or another and, in essence, put up their own remixes. Show the world your great reporting.

If you’re doing your job right, this will help your credibility and reputation, for most people will see that you really did pick the right stuff and did tell the story well.

More important, you enable people who need more information to get it. And that is our job, isn’t it?

3. Link.

It’s as simple as that: Link outside of your own echo chamber of a newsroom. Link to your competitors and show what they did on stories — stories you did better, stories you didn’t do. Do not assume we are your captive. Assume we are smart and want to be informed and want to find the best reports we can. Also assume that we are a thinking public and we want to see and hear different perspectives on a story so we can decide what we think. So help us. We’ll appreciate it.

Link to your competitors. It will be good for you. It will make you want to do better jobs on stories than they do.

4. Listen.

Listen to the people you used to call your audience but should see as your equals.

The next time bloggers suggest a fact of your may be wrong, CBS, listen to them. Quote them. Look into what they say. Thank them. Learn your lesson, huh?

And it’s not just about fact-checking your ass. It’s about knowing that your former viewers have something valuable to say. At first, it’s just about quoting their words.

But you know that it won’t be very long before we’re all equipped with cameras and we’ll all be witnesses to our 15 minutes of news. The wise news organization will create an easy way to collect and remix and redistribute all that. Wouldn’t you like to have eyewitness video from the heart of a new story? Recognize that anyone can be a reporter. Anyone who sees and reports news is a reporter. So widen your world. Listen. Quote. Make your public a star alongside your anchors.

: When you’ve done all that, you’ve turned news into a conversation.

You’ve turned the spotlight away from the anchor — the mere personality who got you in trouble — and you turn it onto the news itself, where it belongs.

You’ve engaged the people you used to call your viewers, who used to just sit there but have since started walking away, into the news.

You’ve made anchors what they should be: supporting players, second bananas. (And you’ve saved yourself a helluva lot of money along the way.)

And you’ve informed the public. Isn’t that what news is about instead of an anchor’s fame?