Broadcast buzzards

In the comments below, former TV online exec Rodney Overton also responds to David Carr’s medley of old songs about old newspaper business models in a new world. He warns that newspapers can’t still believe that they own local news because TV web sites “are closing in FAST.”

I’ll confirm that. I’ve seen TV guys flying over newspaper markets like buzzards getting a whiff of carrion. They smell death. They smell opportunity.

Now I know some will argue, as well they should, that TV news is crap and only getting crappier. True: fires, shots fired, flacks’ events, and weather teases. But remember that with their cutbacks, newspapers themselves are only getting crappier; there’s a convergence in quality coming at a low level. But while papers see their market and share shrinking, TV people see the chance to grab new ad revenue and new audience online and they still have a megaphone that can promote and build a new product. Will they be any good at it? There’s no telling. But Overton’s point is that newspapers cannot act as if they’re in monopolies and as soon as they circle their wagons, that’s when the attack will begin. Beware TV execs on horseback.

And if TV guys mess it up, there’s plenty of opportunity for other, newer, more nimble and efficient players to come compete.

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  • It doesn’t take a great deal of work to realize that television stations and networks have been much better at adding text to their sites than newspaper sites have been at adding video and audio… The video guys have spent the last few years learning how to “do text.” Today, you can spend quite a bit of time on CNN or even reading text without even bothering with the video. Of course, on most newspaper sites, the rare video or audio content is still considered “special”! Of course, we should also note that the radio folk, like NPR, are also doing quite a nice job of learning to “do text.” … It is only the newspapers that haven’t been broadening their skill sets.

    If your competition is learning your business but you’re not learning theirs, the results are kind of inevitable…

    bob wyman

  • Add to the above all local bloggers coalescing around a local, timely news issue (the real gatekeepers if you ask me, which of course no one did) and owning it, the whole concept of print-based newsrooms converting to online anything, and owning it, is a media fantasy of their own making.

  • Patrick Kuras

    Hmmmm…. Yes, but as the audience continues to fracture, and the older, less Internet-comfortable demo begins to die off, where will the audience come from? Who will buy ads when no one is watching/reading? This is thus, at best, a short-term phenomenon. Eventually, they will all die off, as the audience becomes too small and too segmented to advertise to cost-effectively.

    Ask a tewnty-something or thirty-something where they get their news. Few will tell you a newspaper or local TV station, and that includes those outlets’ usually-crappy websites.