Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's the Most Important Type of News for Morning TV News?

Based on the promos that run on local stations for their local news programs, you might think that the most important type of news is breaking news. All across the country, local TV news stations talk about how they cover breaking news -- first.

But breaking new is not the reason people tune in for morning news -- despite the "If it bleeds, it leads" catch phrase that has been the overall mantra of local news. And the morning news directors know that -- even though they don't usually run promos for the things that people do tune in for: weather reports.

Watching the morning news today, I noticed that after a brief, 2-minute intro or welcome to the stories they plan to cover over the next half hour, the first thing each national morning show cut to the national and local weather.

After we get the weather report, we then get the so-called important stories of the day.

That shouldn't be surprising, but people pitching morning news programs often forget the priorities that news producers have.

Don't believe me? Here's Alex Beam in the Boston Globe writing about the formula for the new 4:30am broadcast news programs:
Here is the formula that every station manager has adopted for this time slot: WEATHER/newsfiller/newsfiller/newsfiller/whiffofsportsorbusinessreporting/advertising/WEATHER/newsfiller/newsfiller/whiffofsportsorbusinessreporting/advertising/WEATHER.

Weather is so important, that the New York Times and other papers list the weather each day on the front page, above the fold, even above other headlines.

On radio, the only thing as important as weather are traffic updates.

Sure, they get to the other stuff, including local sports, but people truly tune to morning news for the weather. Yet, the only time stations promote their weather expertise and latest in Doppler technology, is before, during and after an expected storm or Nor'easter.

The important aspect for PR functions here is to understand the structure of morning news programs so that you can set reasonable expectations for coverage. Of course, that could change if you have a strong weather-related story!

Meanwhile, check out Alex Beam's article about the very early morning news here.

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