I’m not sure but someone is.
I can tell you this. Some TV news managers claim they know who watches the local news. But when I asked how they knew, their answers didn’t satisfy me. In my opinion, their evidence was flimsy at best. But some TV news managers feel obligated to appear they know who is watching. Someone needs to take a leadership role during editorial meetings and provide logic when deciding which stories to cover. What stories do people care about? I heard that question countless times during meetings. Imagine if TV news managers said “I really don’t know who’s watching. So your guess is as good as mine.”
Ratings help break down the age groups watching. But are single moms truly watching a specific newscast? If American Idol airs before your newscast, are music lovers actually watching the news that night? On that night, should the newsroom assign more stories about iTunes or concerts?
Maybe TV managers, similar to Colonel Sanders, have a secret formula tucked away in a safe with all the answers. But when I asked, people in the newsroom never convinced me they really knew who was sitting in the living room enjoying the latest edition of breaking news and brush fires along the highway. I inferred I should simply stop asking the question.
So I don’t know the answer. And I’m still asked the question. When people asked me what I did for a living, they often apologized for not recognizing me, saying they don’t watch the local news. Most of my friends insist they don’t watch the local news. But someone still is. Enough people recognized me or my name over the years that I assumed they watched my station with consistency. Some people were even familiar with my style of reporting. If you need further proof, check out a local TV anchor’s Facebook page. Anchors briefly mention they smoked a cigar or they post a picture of the weather and a gazillion people reply. I mean it! A gazillion!
Businesses hand out company flyers pointing out they appeared on a station. I know one business which mentions its appearance on its outgoing voice mail. Media relations clients tell me about the leads they receive after appearing on the news. Some companies simply believe appearing on the news gives them some extra credibility. And with webpages, phone apps and Twitter updates, you don’t need to turn on the TV for your local news.
I don’t know for sure who watches the local news. I don’t know their wealth or education level. I can guess but not with much certainty. I’ve asked. I’ve debated the topic numerous times, even to the point where a TV manager whispered he honestly didn’t know either. But someone is watching. And at any given time, the news still offers you an opportunity to share your business with a whole bunch of people.