No anchors. No studio. Maybe you don’t have HBO, or haven’t taken the time to check out that channels news show. When and if you do, Vice News does not follow the typical news show format model at all. The show starts and ends in the field, with reporters tackling a variety of topics. Along with the HBO viewers and more than two million You Tube subscribers, the show recently garnished international attention when one of their news crews embedded with white nationalists and the KKK at the Charlottesville, Virginia, march and protest. The video is terrifying and just about every cable news network used the footage.
Along with compelling, well-told stories, here’s the other thing about Vice News: The reporters are not polished, “voice of God”, Ron Burgundy or Barbie-Doll wanna-be’s. Far from it, in fact. The on-air staff looks and sounds like the boy or girl next door. No make-up, no sexy wardrobe, no typical TV speak with exaggerated voice tone or punctuation, just regular people telling stories and it’s highly effective and very watchable. Here’s why I believe this unique TV news show could serve as a format for local news:
Anchors/Studios are expensive. With increased competition, local TV news stations have made dramatic cuts across the board in staffing, resources, equipment, and facilities to maintain profit margins. The typical news anchor may cost more than four times what a station pays a typical reporter. Local TV stations could save boat loads of money by eliminating the standard anchor format and transitioning to field-based news content.
The growing news show disconnect. There is a growing disconnect between news audiences and TV hosts/anchors. Don’t believe me? Ask a millennial to name their favorite news anchor. Chances are, they can’t name one, and in fact, will say they don’t watch local news at all. This is a major problem for news outlets. The good news-with shows like Vice News and Real Sports and other well-executed, web-friendly platforms, there clearly is a market for news content delivered in the right package for the next generation. I believe there will always be a market for great story-telling.
News consumers want more info and less opinion. This is undeniable, The biggest gripe about the news media is slant/opinion/bias. Everyday I hear from family and friends about the news media and they all say the same thing- why can’t a news show just share information without the slant or bias? We know that local TV news revenue is now driven by what happens online on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. It’s all about the clicks now and that is the driving force behind opinion-based posts by news anchors. Stations want clicks and engagement, even if negative, because they can sell corresponding ads. It’s the sad reality of today’s digital news media. But back to my original point here: A reporter-based format could make good on a news show promise to showcase less opinion and more information.
What a concept.
Rich Dubek is a two-time Emmy award winning TV news reporter with more than twenty five years of news media experience at the local and network level. He is President of the Dubek Media Group, specializing in expert media training and on-air coaching, and full service video production. The Dubek Media Group is based in Tempe, Arizona.