The stories behind the stories: May 2012
KSTP story inspires change during sweeps month
For television news, May is a ratings month. This means that stations typically air highly publicized investigative pieces to draw as many viewers as possible. While Twin Cities stations filed a number of reports that caught our eye, a certain KSTP story stood out above the rest.
Donald Blom was convicted of killing 19-year-old Katie Poirer in Moose Lake in 1999. We haven’t heard much about Blom since he was sentenced to life in prison in 2000 and taken to a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania. But earlier this year, KSTP learned that Blom had been moved to a minimum security prison, a place he described as “laid back” and “more like a hospital or nursing home.” Reporter Bob McNaney traveled to Pennsylvania to interview Blom. He also interviewed Katie Poirer’s brother, who was expectedly angered by the news. The story aired in early May, and Blom has since been moved back into a maximum security prison. Not only was this a great investigative piece, it inspired meaningful change.
No radio show for Dayton
Courtesy of MPR
Throughout the legislative session, we noticed a key difference between the Dayton and Pawlenty administrations in message conveyance. Throughout his eight-year tenure as governor, Tim Pawlenty hosted a one-hour radio show every Friday morning on WCCO-AM. The idea of a governor having his own radio show was not new to Minnesotans; Jesse Ventura had one as well.
Mark Dayton is the first Minnesota governor to not host a radio show since 1998. Because of this, we have noticed that Dayton did not have as much control over his talking points as Pawlenty and Ventura did during the legislative session. Also constituents had more access to Governors Pawlenty and Ventura. Dayton is forced to rely more on reporters to steer the conversation.
Minnesota’s Hubbard becoming a national force
In a world where many media corporations are struggling to tread water, Minnesota’s Hubbard Broadcasting has shown no signs of sinking. After acquiring 17 radio stations from Bonneville International last year, Hubbard climbed the rankings to become the ninth largest biggest radio company in the nation based on revenue ($182 million). But Stanley Hubbard isn’t stopping there. He recently told Crain’s Chicago Business that he would consider buying radio and TV holdings from Chicago’s Tribune Company if the price is right.
Media curation gains momentum
“Curation” is no longer just a word reserved for historians. Media curation – the process of gathering news stories on a specific topic – is gaining popularity in the online news industry. The goal is to present a customized experience for users. A local example is Rick Kupchella’s Bring Me the News. The site filters through news stories on the websites of Minnesota media outlets and posts the “most relevant stories” on its own website.
Social media powerhouse Twitter might soon enter the curation game, as it recently began sending weekly curated e-mails to show users content they might be interested in based on the people and organizations they follow. Many believe this is Twitter’s way of testing the waters before diving into curation.
Local TV as broken record
Using his tongue-in-cheek approach, Conan O’Brien has been shedding light on the power of sharing for TV news stations. In a new segment, Conan shows clips of dozens of local news anchors across the country delivering a news story with the same line. In one segment, the anchors introduce the national news story with the phrase, “Is it time for dogs to have a social network of their own?” Watching more than 20 news personalities deliver the line over and over again can get a bit sickening.
Local TV stations receive most of their national news from partners such as CNN or the Associated Press. In this case, CNN produced a story about a social network for dogs and made it available to its local affiliate stations. To accompany the story, CNN provided a suggested anchor lead. Due to dwindling resources and added local newscasts, stations are typically happy to use stories provided by national broadcasters and paste them into their newscasts. Most producers refer to this type of content as “show filler.” In this economy, it would be nearly impossible to fill every newscast with original content. Shared national stories allow local TV stations to produce multiple newscasts per day using a manageable budget.
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