Foxification of local news

Jack Myers says that local TV news will change because Roger Ailes is now in charge of Fox stations. Wish I’d thought of that.

With access to local stations, Ailes will have a testing ground for new personalities and new formats. Local newscasts have been declining in ratings for years and formats are stagnant. Switch from one station to the other and both newscasters and formats are virtually interchangeable. Rupert Murdoch’s decision to give Ailes additional authority will prove to be just the spark local television news, programming and promotion needs to rejuvenate the business.

Imagine a local news operation that actually says something. You may or may not agree with what it says but it sure would be new for local news to break out of the tapioca haze it’s in.

Also never forget that Ailes real brilliant stroke at FoxNews was the one-two punch of enlivening the shows and saving bucketloads of money by deemphasizing produced reports in favor of in-studio interviews and talk.

Do we really need that on-camera twit out in front of the fire … or worse yet, out in front of the black soot the next morning, says, “Firefighters this morning are…” — when, in fact, the firefighters are long gone?

What if, instead, a station tore into local issues and got some juices flowing? You might actually watch.

Love him or not, Ailes changed the business and grammar of national TV news. So I agree that it’s a good bet he could do the same to local.

  • Jeff, as long as they could truly dig into issues, exploring the facts and not just blather mindless rants, then I think there may be some value. Otherwise, it’s just the tapicoa with jalapenos…spicer, but not very tasty…certainly not very fulfilling.

  • Paul

    I think oe problem with many local news broadcasts is so often more time is devoted to national stories than to the local ones. I have watch my local news (Baltimore MD) and in some 30 minute segments the only local news was the weather and the sports.

  • Robert

    Indeed. I stopped watching my local news years ago, when they restyled themselves as Headline news / Entertainment tonight ( with updates on what the top rated movies were ), complete with a text crawler on the bottom edge of the screen! And it’s not like Asheville NC is a huge market or anything. If it’s a big national story, they’re sure to have a reporter covering it! Local news outside of the Asheville city limits is pratically ignored.

  • penny

    FOX’s Brit Hume news hour is the most watchable, in-depth and intelligent news on tv right now. It would be nice if FOX held their locals to the same standard.

    Paul makes a good point. There is nothing more boring, redundant and pathetic than the locals re-capping the national news. Why bother? You can flip to FOX or CNN for it 24/7.

  • I dunno. Looking back, when (pre-Viacom) CBS bought WCCO AM radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul, it was the dominant station in the market, AM or FM. Then they threw out all the old announcers and brought in a format like WBBM or WCBS. WCCO tanked.

    If Ailes wants to make all of Fox’s O&Os have the same McNews format, it won’t help bring more eyeballs to advertisers. Local markets have local flavor.

  • Sadly, people tune in for the car chases and breathless play-by-play on a traffic jam.

    It’s also amusing to tally up the amount of time on actual news, promos, and the worthless swooshing animations. News is way down, animations and bumpers are way up. It’s almost like buying a videogame with all cutscenes and very little actual play.

  • Angelos

    We want news, remember, not right-wing propaganda.

  • penny

    We want news, remember, not right-wing propaganda.

    Angelos, you’ve got NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the alphabets, the NYT’s…….can’t you allow in your heart just one network for us conservatives?

    Please. Have a heart.

  • Maureen

    Angelos–Yet again proof of how liberals are so scared. As Penny points out, there’s NPR, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, NYT, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco papers, Discovery Channels (now co-owned by NYT), & on & on. But for some reason, one single channel seems to freak out the liberals. And I’d defy you to point out any more propoganda coming from Fox than any of those other “neutral” outlets. Frankly, I’d rather get my news from an organization honest enough to admit its leanings.

  • Maureen

    Rupert Murdoch, for all the bashing he takes from liberals, is one media mogul who “gets it.” This guy has long had his media outlets on the cutting edge. Think about it–back in the 80s, when TV was pretty bland & blah, Fox broke on the scene with programs like “Married with Children,” “Melrose Place,” etc. that may have been offensive but certainly were water-cooler talk. He made that network into a significant force that is now on the level of ABC, CBS, & NBC–& often beats them in ratings. Even now, Fox still comes up with programs like “Arrested Development.” Then there’s FX, which breaks further ground with its programming–including, attention liberals, “Over There.” And that’s just in the US. In Europe, there’s SkyTV, which has (blessedly) proven to be a major thorn to the BBC in the UK, & is expanding around Europe.

    Then there’s DirecTV–& for that alone, he should be worshipped. He single-handedly has managed to shake some sense into the cable behemoths who have long saddled us consumers with ridiculous prices & crappy, arrogant service. As a former Comcast-sufferer, I can attest to how scared he has them. Boy, in my community (where DirecTV dishes are sprouting like mushrooms), they’ve all of a sudden become very concerned about customer service. Not that I’ll ever go back to them, but services like Comcast On Demand have resulted directly as a way to combat DirecTV. (And, liberals, since I live in a heavily minority community–may I point out that DirecTV is much fairer in its pricing than Comcast & other cable giants. My community, just outside DC, has one of the crappiest cable systems I have ever encountered in over 30 years of using cable. Comcast has the community hostage, since it’s the only cable provider. DirecTV is far cheaper, with way more channels, & much better customer service. Boy–you’d almost think Murdoch was a liberal!)

    Then, he puts a news network on the air, & in a relatively short time has managed to scare the bejesus out of the other mainstream, liberal, news organizations, & the politicians that love them. When the NY Times spends a significant amount of ink last week running an article trying to prove how unimportant you are, you know a network has arrived. Funny–Ted Turner used to be considered the media mogul who had “It.” He was forward-thinking & daring. Now, he & his then ground-breaking network are just tired, boring, predictable, & rapidly losing ratings. Yet Murdoch is the old fart–significantly older than Turner, but constantly coming up with new media innovations.

    Murdoch also “gets” the Internet–again, putting him far ahead of other media organizations still trying to convince themselves that people in their pajamas should be poo-poohed. His speech a few months ago should serve as another wake-up call to those media organizations. It will be very interesting to see where he goes over the next few years in merging his various tv & print outlets with the Internet. The New York Times (& people like Angelos) can continue to splutter about “right-wing bias” & how “unimportant” Fox is. Fox will continue to eat them for lunch.

  • Angelos

    Panny and Maureen, did you cut and paste your responses from the “Winger Playbook”?

    Remember – the NYT and Judy Miller advanced ALL of the WH’s pre-war nonsense.

    Read how the “liberal” media fell all over themselves convincing us that Colin Powell mobile weapons labs BS in front of the UN was strong, powerful, slam-dunk, etc.

    Your “liberal” media was all over the Clenis and his fat intern, but have given your boy George a free pass until recently, when they realized that he wasn’t a “popular president” after all.

    The NYT even gave INTELLIGENT DESIGN a free pass today, in the name of equal time, I guess. Any article about ID should clearly state that it is the antithesis of intelligence and knowledge. Impartiality doesn’t mean you can’t call bullshit on the latest religous propaganda.

    But the real argument here isn’t editorial content. I could care less what the pundits say. If you want to believe the BS that comes out of the mouths of Hannity, O’Reilly, etc., that’s fine. That’s your stupidity. But when it’s ALL punditry, and no news, that’s a problem. And that’s what Fox is.

  • Charles Smith

    My question is when will a small-ish local newspaper Foxify (to the right or left)- in the right market, this is a chance to extend the franchise shelf-life significantly.

  • Jimmy

    It’s one thing to “say something,” it’s an altogether different thing to spout nonsense and engage in character assassination on a regular basis. On many occasions I’ve tried to sit through the various FOX news “shows” and calling them “news” is stretching. The same can be said of Air America Radio. I also think you give Roger Ailes far too much credit. He may have changed how 24/7 news channels operate, but he also helped to create the class of loud-mouthed, cruel, attention-craving “reporter” that is hurting news dissemination in this country.

    I will, however, give Rupert Murdoch his due. He took up the mantle of media “it” guy when Ted Turner sold out to Time Warner and he will continue to dominate the field until he dies. While I certainly don’t think his control of world-wide media is necessarily a positive thing, the way in which he has run his various properties should be an example for future media moguls.

  • beachmom

    I think that this liberal vs. conservative argument misses the point. I watch the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS, which has been rated over and over again to be about as objective as humanly possible. But that’s not what keeps me going back to it. Instead, it is the QUALITY of the show and their in depth reports and discussions so that I can try to get my mind around the issues of the day. To me, I put Fox News and CNN in the same category — dull and dumb. An hour spent with The Economist magazine will fill your brain with more knowledge and thought provoking questions about the world than a year’s worth of cable news. If local news could offer information and news about what affects me the most — things like development, local government, local businesses and employment, education — along with a few nice stories about what NORMAL people do there, not just the criminals, I would consider taking a look. But whether it’s their current formula of stupid programming or a Fox style formula of stupid programming, I’d be better off catching a re-run of Seinfeld. Unfortunately, the lowest common denominator always wins in the for-profit news business, so I’m not holding my breath.

  • penny-

    By what measure is MSNBC liberal?

    They promoted Bush in 2000 through Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” which constantly distorted Al Gore.

    They promoted the Iraq War with “Countdown Iraq.”

    Hosts include Rita Cosby, Joe Scarborough, and Tucker Carlson.

  • Ravo

    DirecTV is far cheaper, with way more channels, & much better customer service. Boy–you’d almost think Murdoch was a liberal!

    Huh? Not in a million years.

    Liberal ideaologies such as tenure, affirmative action, and making it difficult for employers to get rid of sub par employees are NOT known to lead to the best service and products at the cheapest prices!

  • Starting with “Married With Children”, the Fox network has always been the leader in salacious programming. So how can its critics claim that Fox is the mouthpiece of a right wing, ostensibly controlled by evangelical Christians?

    There is no hypocrisy here. Murdoch is a capitalist and if the news business were dominated by conservatives, he’d have started a left wing news channel.

  • whodat

    Chicago Tribune liberal? I think you meant the Sun-Times.

    Big difference between Fox and Fox News. But I totally agree with you on Murdoch.

    MSNBC has brought in the names mentioned by Eric because they were/are getting it totally handed to them in the ratings.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Our local network affiliates are notorious for putting reporters in front of buildings where something happened 8 hours before.

    Sometimes they just make the reporter go stand on the roof of the studio so we can see the Seattle skyline in the background, since that just screams RELEVENCE and CARING.

    The CBS affiliate tried “News Out Of The Box” a few years ago. Basically the talking heads just milled around the studio like lost refugees as they delivered the headlines. It was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. The only thing I remember from that experiment is that one the “trusted anchors” had been sitting on a stack of phone books behind the desk. When he was forced to stand up on camera, he was about 5 foot 3.

  • Angelos

    Excellent! Now our local Fox affiliates can advocate assasination of foreign leaders, just because they have the oil and won’t give it to us!

  • whodat

    As a Christian man, please, please don’t think that Pat Robertson represents the views of the average Christian. He’s hung up on power and getting things to be the “Christian” way. Christ came to serve, not to take over.

    Here’s some notes about the Rev. (What exactly he reveres is a whole different conversation)

  • Epitome

    “I’d rather get my news from an organization honest enough to admit its leanings.”

    Then why do you watch ‘Fair and Balanced’ Fox News?

    When Fox is brave enough to do away with the winks and the nudges and quell the open secret about it’s political leanings I’ll have more respect for it.

  • Angelos

    Pat Robertson gets VERY high profile coverage on right-wing television, and is frequently a pundit on Fox.

    He is the embodiment of the “christian” right.

    See, the left has some extreme nutjobs too (Ward Churchill, eg), but WE ACTUALLY DISTANCE OURSELVES FROM THEM!

    On the right, the more bigoted and just plain wrong you are, the BETTER your odds of getting on Fox.

    That’s what the “fair and balanced” network thrives on! How else to explain Malkin-lang-a-lang-a-ding-dong, O’Reilly, etc. How else to explain Limbaugh? He doesn’t even believe half the shit he says, he just needs to fill 4 hours somehow. So he spews hateful and ignorant lies, and the dittoheads he plays to just nod.

    I tell you, PT Barnum was right.

  • whodat

    Ok Angelos–I agree that he is the embodiment of the Christian right. But I said Christians–not the “Christian Right”. The “Christian Right” also does not represent us, nor does George Bush.

  • bob

    So, the Federalism labratory reaches the 4th estate.

  • Mary Ann

    Great. So now our local broadcasts will have a few decent shows like Special Report, but will leave the remaining time for ad nauseum coverage of Holloway, Schiavo, and other pet causes. I agree that there is a quality to SOME of Fox’s coverage, but when they get on their soap box, I tune out.

  • mike

    Fox News in Portland OR (Ch 12) is blood, guts, rape, pillage, black soot in the morning, gunfights, fire in the evening, drugs, meth, junkies…and thats just the first 20 minutes. Tey do devote 12 minutes to the news of the world (local, national, international). We’ve given FOX the “Deep ^”