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Business Makeover: Broadcast News


Inside advice from someone on the outside.

With hatred of Katie Couric and online news readership at an all-time high, ratings for broadcast news continues to plummet. Potential viewers have turned off network news, opting instead for opting instead for the sobriety and restraint of a Keith Olbermann smackdown or the unflinching objectivity of the noble blogger.

Even this year's presidential candidates have been increasing their web presence and giving interviews via cable in an effort to reach voters fleeing broadcast news in droves.

With so many death knells sounding for the evening news, how can it build an audience?

The 1950s heralded a sophisticated, no-nonsense survey of world affairs in the guise of Edward R. Murrow. To regain that level of respect and professionalism, today's news anchors should chain smoke and publicly condemn Communist witch hunts.

Satirical news like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have earned a large and loyal viewership in search of a humorous slant on the day's events. Try countering the dreary pathos of that local resident's fatal stabbing with a snarky catchphrase or recurring hand puppet.

Part of the appeal of online news blogs is their comments section, where readers can engage in spirited discussion of a particular article. After every story, open up the phone lines so viewers can enter an uncensored, no-holds-barred debate about the item.

An interview with a presidential candidate can be a huge boon for local news. If unable to book a presidential candidate, offer a segment that features the best impersonator money can buy.

In short, network news lost the majority of their audience because it's painfully dull. Add some excitement to your broadcast with lightning graphics, sinewy guitar riffs, low-cut blouses and a gravelly-voiced announcer who gnarls, "This ain't your daddy's news program!" Hey, it worked for Fox.

A cheerful ficus plant livens up any news set.

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