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Television
John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV


Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Breaking News!

Have you heard about the Louisville TV station manager who ripped TV stations a new one for all the “Breaking News?” Bill Lamb, general manager of Fox affiliate WDRB-TV (Channel 41), flat out called it a gimmick, hype, and “trickery designed to fool the audience.”
Here is his entire commentary from June 15:

“The ‘Breaking News’ Gimmick” (June 15, 2006)
“I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in local television news.
“At the direction of national News consultants, some local stations are using the term "Breaking News" as often as possible. Everything is "Breaking News" now. The problem is, the vast majority of news they are touting as "breaking" isn’t breaking at all. This tactic is just hype and trickery designed to fool the audience into thinking their station is on top of more news than the other stations.
“And when one station in a city starts abusing the term, other stations tend to begin overusing it too. I even saw our own newsroom fall victim to this gimmick when we had a "Breaking News" story about an Indiana teacher who was arrested for a DUI. I certainly didn’t think it was "breaking" and it probably wasn’t even "news." Barry Fulmer, our news director agreed and then emphatically told our newsroom that we are not going to cry "wolf" just because others do. Lying to viewers is no way to get them to watch.
“Using the phrase "breaking news" isn’t wrong but it better be big and it better be happening right now!
“So why do I care what the other stations do? I think it’s dangerous to play with a news organization’s reputation and this "breaking news" gimmick threatens to damage everyone’s credibility. Ours included.
“I’m Bill Lamb and that’s my Point of View. Bill’s can be reached at email: Billlamb@Fox41.com.
Here’s a link to the commentary:
http://www.fox41.com/article/view/6186/?tf=wdrbarticleview.tpl
About 200 people have posted responses to his editorial. Here’s that link:
http://www.fox41.com/article/view/196
Couldn't a TV station manager here ever say the same thing?


26 Comments:

at 6/27/2006 10:17 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,

Your comment about almost 200 people have responded to his editorial is very inaccurate.

Almost 200 people have responded to his editorialS, not just his editorial on "breaking news", of which I totally agree with 100 percent. Too bad it's WDRB and not WHAS or any other main station.

 
at 6/27/2006 11:22 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every news director in Cincinnati should read that commentary. Breaking News, Developing News, News You Can Use, News On Your Side, News You Can Trust...after a while it all blends toegther is dilutes the messages for the viewers.

 
at 6/27/2006 11:24 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that someone had the courage to say this. The Cincinnati stations have made a joke of their newscasts by making everything "breaking news".

 
at 6/27/2006 11:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Channel 12 is the biggest offender when using "Breaking News" to describe a story that's anything but fresh. Most of their breaking news is a follow-up or update of something that happened ages ago.
Anymore, I check for news updates on the web. Local news and it's emphasis on car crashes is becoming less relevant everyday. By the way, Bob Herzog is a nice guy but what gives with the "bad-boy" personae. The sibling banter between Cammy and Horstmeyer worked for years, but it just is annoying between he and Herzog. Oddly, I'm watching channel 5 in the mornings now.

 
at 6/27/2006 12:52 PM Anonymous Annoyed TV employee said...

I work for a television station outside of Cincinnati and this "Breaking News" thing has got to go! I love it when they say “Breaking News from Cincinnati where there was a shooting this morning…” and this is the 5pm newscast or something. Trust me, it has happened and it is stupid! Once at my station, again outside of Cincinnati but still a large market, we did a breaking news open for Mega Million Lottery numbers. It was not breaking news to viewers who had the internet or who watched other stations, it was only breaking news to us because we didn't get the numbers until 15 minutes into our show.

And then that gets to these wonderful topical/promotional spots that say, "We are the news leader blah blah blah." I want, wait I would pay, to see a station say, "We are doing our jobs....and we’ll bring it to you at 11, thanks for watching"

 
at 6/27/2006 1:04 PM Anonymous Dave In Atlanta said...

Finally someone said it!

It really got out of hand with the Channel 12 billboards on 75 south by Lockland and on the Western Hills Viadact: "Breaking News" Is all it said.

So, what, are they that good now that they know the news is going to be breaking that they can put it on a billboard? GIVE IT A REST, IT'S RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!

John, you should write a story about this for the enquirer...interview people about how annoying it is. I'll be in Cincinnati tomorrow, you can quote me! Maybe stations will finally stop using that lame gimmick!

 
at 6/27/2006 1:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The response seems to be unanimous. The "Breaking News" gimmick has got to go. Like the previous posters have said, give me breaking news when it's happening, and make it a big story.

Also, our friends at Channel 5, have various musical bumpers to separate "Breaking News" from "Developing Stories" etc...

Just think how many more stories they could cover, or how much more information they could provide (if they are journalistically capable, which I doubt)if it wasn't for all the music themes.

It's just like WLW Radio. I spent dozens of years in radio news and my stations always had higher story count and more information, because we didn't take up half of our five minutes with self-promotion.

 
at 6/27/2006 2:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems as if our local TV news directors have no original ideas...merely hire a consultant and do what they say. One tells 12 they need a female sports anchor - BOOM - adios Harvey. They need a confusing morning traffic presentation - hello rockerboy and moviehost. You should do a 10pm newscast on another station...don't hire anyone fresh, just recycle.

And the most comical concept of this all is this...as viewers run screaming from the local newscasts, the stations will take only one step: hire a consultant. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of unoriginal thinking, dependence on outside "experts", and a disinterest in the needs and wants of the audience they are supposed to serve.

And what can we do about it? Stop watching...encourage others to do the same...and wait for P&G and Kerry Automotive and other advertisers to take their money elsewhere.

 
at 6/27/2006 2:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not just 5, but 19 has special bumpers, 9 has special sounders and CG...

Here's my true beef:
1) Breaking News is URGENT, Earth-shattering, spine-tingling. It's a death, a building explosion. The daily shooting almost doesn't qualify. The term "Breaking News" has been Bob Barker-ed. It has no meaning; it's been neutered.

2) Developing News: Isn't all news developing? Otherwise, wouldn't it be "history"?

3) What's with all of these sounders and SFX? It's Cincinnati news, not a Fox Sporting Event.

4) What's with the new scheme of Sunday night news has to be a repeat of news from Friday night and Saturday? The retention rate isn't that bad. If it's lack of news, then the reporters and assignment editors aren't doing their jobs.

Al Schottelkotte, Peter Grant and Tom Atkins must be rolling in their graves.

Lastly...to those that click in front of chromakey. When you touch the chromakey to make things "magically" pop up...guess what? We can see you press the forward button! Tacky!

 
at 6/27/2006 8:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you might hear it someday here, but only if it works someplace else first.

 
at 6/27/2006 10:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are wrong. They are not hitting a "forward button" but are hitting a button to place whatever they programmed into the computer to put on the screen. The video signal from the camera is sent back to the computer and the computer will track the furthest point from the person's hand and place the cursor there. When they hit the button they are telling the computer to place whatever it is where their hand is. The computer always knows where the person is and where their hand is. They have four buttons. One to place things down, one to go to the next thing, one to clear things, and one to go to the next slide. In fact, it is magic and it's pretty cool technology.

 
at 6/28/2006 8:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

huh???1?

 
at 6/28/2006 10:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh? is right! Thanks to the part time PA for filling us in. It's not a "forward" button, but it IS a button and we can see you pushing it. Who cares what exact type of button it is? Get over yourself. It's a stupid gimmick that shouldn't be pointed out to the viewers each time it's used. This trend of being "inside" is getting old. Just do your tricks and don't tell us how it's done or that ypu're even doing it.

 
at 7/03/2006 11:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

news should only be designated as "breaking" if the anchor is listening to a report in their ear and telling the viewers details as they come in. if it was urgent, they would skip sports and weather.

 
at 7/04/2006 10:20 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching 12 yesterday, it was nauseating. For the first 5 minutes of the 5:30 or 6 (they all run together), everything was "breaking". C'mon! Someone in Cincinnati, take a stand and end this insanity. Wait! Would that make "breaking" news? Consider that.

 
at 7/05/2006 1:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was ONLY 12 on which you saw non-stop breaking news?? Gimme a break!!! 5 & 9 & 12 all do the breaking & developing news thing about as equally. And no one seems to be turning any of them off.

 
at 7/08/2006 1:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw something weird Friday night at 11. TV 5's Tom Sossie started his live report inside the truck! That mobile live truck 5 has for Warren County with the anchors' faces plastered all over it.

 
at 7/08/2006 12:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it kind of weird to see Sandra & Sheree's smiling faces out at a murder?

 
at 7/09/2006 2:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful article on the breaking news today, John. Really enjoyed it. I must say that I have seen a noticable difference on 5 in recent days. For the longest time, the 11pm newscast always started with breaking news...they've really cut back for them, and I'm glad to see it. I imagine this transition has something to do with adding the Top 5 at 11 thing, but hey - if it cuts down on all the breaking news mumbo-jumbo, I'm all for it. I'd rather see a set of 5 stories that are relevant and not heavily branded as "breaking news" like you'll see on any other station at 11.

 
at 7/09/2006 5:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like TV 5's news director wrote the last entry! Don't be fooled, reporters at that place are chasing down every shooting, fire and car crash.

 
at 7/10/2006 11:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was either the news director or someone else working for 5. About two or three of the 10 offerings for the voting are "relavant stories" -- the rest are filler or things they pull off the Hearst feeds.

 
at 7/11/2006 12:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit I'm starting to get irritated with these blog comment areas. Every time I comment, I'm blasted as being an employee for some station, when in actuality I'm a Bowling Green journalism student with no affiliation or ties to any local station. Instead of trying to nail down who people are, why don't some of you start countering arguments with logical responses instead of just saying "You must work for _____. Get back to work instead of reading these boards!"

In response to the last poster, yes, I agree, some of the stories are feeds, mainly because the mic flags or reporters can tell you that, but I think they do provide a nice alternative to 9 and 12, which are usually dead on the same when it comes to content, just different faces. At least 5 has a little more variety in their content this way to at least provide an alternate option. I'm not saying that 5 is better than 9 or 12, I just like having the option of seeing something different, and I'm curious to see how viewers will respond to that option.

 
at 7/11/2006 8:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys fucked up the all star game this year in Cincinnati. Why don't you fucking assholes just flash the message underneath the television screen. NOBODY wants to see you assholes on tv!!!!!!!


FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

 
at 7/11/2006 11:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You guys fucked up the all star game this year in Cincinnati. Why don't you fucking assholes just flash the message underneath the television screen. NOBODY wants to see you assholes on tv!!!!!!!


FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!"

right back at ya

 
at 7/12/2006 9:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You guys fucked up the all star game this year in Cincinnati. Why don't you fucking assholes just flash the message underneath the television screen. NOBODY wants to see you assholes on tv!!!!!!!


FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wow. Smart one, aren't we? I have an idea - send this post to all of the people who were huddled in their basements last night while toradoes ripped through their part of town, you insensitive, uneducated ass.

 
at 7/12/2006 10:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on, skippy. Now comes "Developing News" updates!

 
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