image courtesy Wikicommons

CBS Cuts Back on The News

Posted May 04, 2016
Share To

About a decade ago, the newspaper business started to collapse.

The Internet had killed it.

The Internet had killed it because the papers did not know how to respond to this new technology. They still don't. So they are still dying. In perhaps a decade, perhaps less, there will be very few if any newspaper left.

As go newspapers, so goes TV news.

It just took a bit longer. It took a bit longer because the web was not capable of carrying video until lately. It took a decade, but now it's there. And what happened to newspapers a decade ago is now happening to TV news.

It starts with CBS, once the Tiffany Network.

CBS News announced yesterday that henceforth it would stop producing the Evening News on weekends and start pre-recording the morning news on weekends.  

Does news not happen on weekends?

Did you know that Pearl Harbor was attacked on a Sunday? 

In any event....

TV news suffers from the same problem as newspapers did. They don't know what to do, except to cut costs by cutting content.

This is, of course, why people watch the news to begin with.  

Cut the content and you cut the reason to watch. It's a viscious circle that has a bad ending.

For newspapers, perhaps there was no other choice. But there is one for TV news - if they have the courage to do it.

Cut the cost of producing the content.

What do I mean by that?

Right now, TV news, particularly network news, is still done in the 'old fashioned way'. That is, it is done by crews and on air talent and big staffs. How big? Watch the credit roll at the end of each show.  Big!

But it doesn't have to be done that way.

I don't have to tell you that a reporter with an iPhone can do as good a job (better, I think) that a high paid network correspondent with a producer and a crew.

That's where you money is going.. and it's a crazy way to spend money.

I am not suggesting that this is the answer... but... let me suggest it anyway.

Not to pick on him.. but... Matt Lauer made $20 million in 2014, the last year I could find.

Now, if we were to get rid of Matt (or cut him back to two or three million a year - which is not so terrible), we could take that $20 million and hire and field 200 reporters with iPhones and pay each of them $100,000 each. 

I think that's a pretty good trade.

Now, you probably don't even need 200 journalists (and you could get some pretty good journalism talent for 100K. Steal em from the newspapers!).  Maybe you only need 50 or 75.

That seems liike a bargain, no?

But of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg, because the world is actually filled with people creating content and covering the 'news' all over the place for fee.

500 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute!

That means that... to push the point... in the 30 minutes that the CBS Evening News USED to run on weekends, which it does not do anymore... there were 15 thousand hours of video uploaded to Youtube.. for free.

Now, to do the 'show', you only need 30 minutes of video (cut out the anchor throws and the ads, and you really only need 20 minutes of material), or .00002% of the total.

Now, since the show is actually done once a week, you would have a whole week's full of Youtube submissions from which to cull, or 5 million, 40 thousand hours of potential material from which to cull 20 minutes worth (the BEST 20 minutes worth), or 0.000000006625%.

Think you could find it in there somewhere?


My point is that there are a lot of other potential sources of content and news and information than your paid correpsondents and crews.

There is, in fact, a whole Saudi Arabia of content waiting to be drilled.

Case in point:  For the last year, TV news has been pre-occupied with the story of Syrian Refugees coming to Europe. 

As you may have noticed, they all seem to have smart phones, and I am willing to bet that most of them are shooting video of what is actually happening to them. 

That would be about a million smart phones rolling every day. For 365 days.

Now, how much of that content have you ever seen on The CBS Evening Weekend News (which is going out of business)?

Would none be a good answer?


Recent Posts

When we run our video storytelling bootcamps for TV news organizations, our primary focus is on what we call ‘the viewer experience’. It is a given that the journalism is well researched and accurate, but if no one is watching; if there is no ‘audience engagement’ with the story, then you are in fact showing it to no one, which is tragic, and avoidable.

The Power of Character-Driven Storytelling

Bad News, Good News
June 17, 2024

The old news mantra — if it bleeds, it leads has been replaced by if it’s gross, adios. The prospect of a news-free electorate is terrifying.

Share Page on: