My mother-in-law, a freelance journalist and journalism teacher (most recently at Arizona State University), has never felt totally comfortable with modern TV news. She reminisces of the Cronkite days when the meaning of objectivity was not debatable. Today’s walking and talking reporters and blurred line between journalism and opinionated TV talk shows make her shake her head.
The one aspect of journalism’s evolution that might make her flinch most is cable news’ uncontrollable lust for two talking heads yammering and pointing their fingers at each other. That dynamic really hits home considering someone close to her often plays the role of polished and witty TV pundit on the national stage.
The talking heads and some of their temper tantrums often are reserved for the 24 hour cable stations. But recently, I’ve noticed local stations engaging much more in some of this talkback TV. If it’s not two candidates engaged in verbal jousting, it’s an anchor going one on one live with a guest smack in the middle of a local newscast.
No matter what you think of this format, it’s important PR pros take notice. If this continues to catch on, you may have a whole new category for your clients.
Once the midterm elections pass, political candidates won’t be keeping the seats warm for these live talkbacks. Welcome in your clients, the experts, to yammer on about the latest controversy. Think about it. Instead of your client clamoring for a 10 second soundbite, you get a few minutes of unedited, live television in primetime. And considering a lot of local talking heads don’t come naturally packaged with the glitz and glamour of those on national cable news, your client might be just as good as the next. The downside: If your client is boring, a nervous nellie or easily rattled, this opportunity could turn into disaster. Live TV does not offer do-overs, except when screw-ups end up on YouTube for everyone to laugh at over and over.
If you ever need some assistance training a client to be “good live TV,” I’m sure my husband could offer a helpful hand with some helpful tips. In the meantime, keep an eye on this possible trend. You might want to take advantage of TV talkbacks.