Thursday, April 17, 2008

The A-Rod Factor

Six takeaways from the whole "Nobody's watching the CBS Evening News these days" hubbub:

There is no such thing as reporting any more. News divisions used to have people who went out and created stories; they were called reporters. Now they’re called producers, and they only call someone in to read the script on-camera when the story is ready to be taped.

There are no more reporters, only actors. And since they're basically readers who have to look good, the people delivering you the nightly news are the network equivalent of all those movie stars who are doing Broadway shows these days. They're not being hired because of their chops; they're hired because they look pretty, they have name recognition, and they can read. Network and local news reporters/announcers these days? They're not even real actors -- they're the ones you get to read the stage directions.

Network news = Woolworth's. First there was the five and dime on Main Street. Then there was the shopping district, then the Mall, then the internet. Your grandfather shopped at the five and dime; you shop online. Hell, you probably even use the internet to buy gifts for your grandfather. The same analogy holds for network news. Your grandfather watched CBS or NBC. Your father watched ABC and McNeil Lehrer. You watch Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, and then forward the You Tube links to your grandfather.

People who watch morning shows don't watch the evening news. All you have to do is compare 5 minutes of commercials from both shows to see that two completely different audiences are being targeted by advertisers. If Ogilvy International knows that you pitch Pampers at 7 AM and Depends at 7 PM, how does CBS not know it?

Stars don't win games; teams do. Brittany Spears could be the next CBS anchor and after the curiosity spike, they'd still be in third place, because their whole philosophy of winning is based on the First Rule of Steinbrenner, which equates high-priced talent with winners. In reality, the market obeys Shaq's Law, which was eloquently stated by Shaquille O'Neal (while he was losing title games with the Lakers) with the words: "I've been a champion at every level, except college and the pros." Katie Couric can now say the same thing.

And by the way. If you're going to hire A-Rod to save your team, you don't make him the pitcher. And if you're going to hire a perky morning show interviewer, you don't put her in a position where she can't be perky and can't interview anybody without making it look like an entertainment segment instead of a news segment.

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