The Star-Ledger in New Jersey just broadcast its first live, daily noon news show on the web and I’m delighted to report that it bears no resemblance to television. That was the point.
|Ledger Live – 07-28-08|
When my friends and former colleagues at the paper told me they wanted to create a show, the one thing I begged them to do was not emulate local TV news. Please, God, anything but that. They had the opportunity to create something new and break all the stupid conventions of TV news. But how?
This is the only contribution I made to the project: I introduced them in Michael Rosenblum and the chemistry was a thing to behold. Rosenblum sounds like Gilbert Gottfried in both accent and bluntness (which is not all that different from how the paper’s editor, Jim Willse, sounds; they bonded). The Ledger folks showed him some video they’d made. He was impressed, so far as it went; photographers are good at shooting video. Then they showed him the TV studio they had built and he growled: Why would you want this shit? No, the story is in the newsroom. That’s what a newspaper is. So do it there. So much for the nice studio.
Rosenblum and his partner Lisa Lambden came in and taught more than a dozen staffers how to make stories the Rosemblum way — that is, without its stupid conventions (no B-roll, no noddies, no stand-ups, no establishing shots; just show me and tell me the damned story). And then they worked with the paper’s digital seer, John Hassel, and editor, Jim Willse, and others to create the format of the daily show.
The idea from the start was to have somebody in and of the newsroom and after auditions they found a perfect reporter Jersey-guy host, Brian Donohue. He just talks with you and they show the stories the thing-formerly-known-as-a-paper’s new video journalists have made. In the rehearsals he has also been interviewing people in the newsroom via a TV screen; I’d rather have him just sit down with the real people and talk. But that aside, I think the tone, style, and content are great.
I like the show but what I think is more important is bringing a new video culture into the newsroom with Rosenblum playing Obama, telling them, “Yes, we can.”
: Later: Lost Remote and its commenters got snarky about the show and I snarked back (see comment #28). Let’s get this straight, people: Local TV news sucks. It is no model for what newspapers or anyone should do in video online. It’s cheesy. It’s unbearable. I’m delighted that local TV news priests don’t like what the Ledger did. That’s best indication of success I can imagine.