While speaking about the media to managers at a conference in Victoria, British Columbia, a woman asked me why TV news stations use the word “exclusive” or point out they are airing a story viewers will only see on their broadcasts.
I sometimes asked that question to colleagues while working as a TV reporter. I argued few people watch five newscasts and compare their content in detail. I don’t recall viewers ever telling me they preferred a station because it aired more exclusive stories. And when TV news stations point out an upcoming story is an exclusive, they are acknowledging that viewers can find most of the same stories on most days on other newscasts. (It’s not like we hear the word exclusive that often.)
I told the woman in the audience I don’t know why news stations declare stories as “exclusive.” When I raised these questions as a TV reporter, co-workers shook their heads in acknowledgement and moved on to other business.
My guess is that TV news stations, like businesses in other industries, do things simply because that’s how it’s always been done. Using an “exclusive” graphic for a story also is an opportunity to kick a little sand in the competition’s face. But no one has presented me with information that labeling a story “exclusive” as often as possible leads to some return on investment.
The woman in the audience didn’t like all this exclusive business. I inferred she considered it all a bit silly. News stations do many things I don’t understand. Just watch some of their promos which appear to be produced by the staff of Saturday Night Live.
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