At WXII-12 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the newsroom has been rethinking the way it delivers news to viewers on air, now that so many are consuming content on smartphones.
“The biggest change I would say from when I started in 2000 is the ability of people to get news and information now; it comes so quickly it’s just so much easier for people,” said Executive Producer Brian Neal.
Instead of teasing news stories throughout the day, the challenge has now become to keep the newsworthiness of stories alive until the show is aired. The stories on WXII are also much shorter on average, as news managers believe many viewers are quick to lose interest in longer pieces. Reporters have had to adjust.
“It’s changed a lot, I was used to doing packages when I started out in Miami, but here at WXII, it’s kind of a different format where everything is really condensed and everything is in a VOSOT-style — whether that’s a live or look-live VOSOT,” said reporter David Jeannot.
The upside for viewers is getting news in a way that’s conveniently fast-paced; however, with the brief stories some things may be lost.
“We’re thinking in the world we live in right now people get things quickly, so we want to give people information quickly,” said Neal. “The risk in that is you’re not giving people a lot of depth, you can tell almost any story in 20-25 seconds, but are you telling a better story?”
With the shorter pieces not being able to deliver all of the details, the station relies on technology. Viewers can use WXII’s social media and websites to get more information as they desire.
“We can use social media so that we can do those 25 second stories and say, ‘Hey, if you want more information on that story, go to our website or our Facebook page, so there is some value in throwing to your other resources’,” said Neal.
Neal also said he does believe that there is value left in putting together longer packages, as long as they are well done, so journalists still need to be able to produce in-depth stories.
This story was contributed by Gabriel Austin, a senior in broadcast journalism at the University of Mississippi.