About a week ago, I received an email from Nick Davis. It was unexpected – totally.
Hi Geoff Fox,
Last year it was a pleasure to come upon your blog wile promoting the first season of a reality show my company produces about the goings-on behind the scenes of local news. As I recall, you started out skeptical about Making News: Texas Style – in particular you were annoyed by the station’s almost complete lack of attention to the more serious side of journalism – but you were, I think, (somewhat) won over by the characters by the end of the season.
Well, season two starts Wednesday night on TV Guide Network. I have my own feelings and opinions about Making News: Savannah Style — but would much rather you came to the show fresh. I really would be thrilled to have you check us out again —
Executive Producer, “Making News”
He’s right. I wrote a lot about the station Nick’s crew followed in Texas. I really had mixed emotions, because though some of the ‘players’ were interesting, much of what his camera’s saw showed the worst that local TV news is.
I wanted to give it a peek before I wrote about the new show¹. Again, this is compelling stuff… well, it’s compelling to me. I’m in TV news. I watched the whole hour without wanting to turn away.
As was the case the last time, it’s on TV Guide Channel, sharing the screen with scrolling program listings. Hey, I used to host a science fact show on the SciFi Channel. I understand not everything is a perfect fit.
The newsroom being chronicled is at the low rated ABC/Fox affiliate, WJCL/WTGS, in Savannah, GA. Whether it’s true or not, it’s claimed to be the lowest rated ABC station in America! There’s a distinction.
Savannah’s a market with two other, much more well established stations, both doing news as well. I’m not sure how this one can hope to compete, especially when they’re underfunded and understaffed.
Climbing in the ratings today is more difficult than ever before. Today’s viewing audience is heavily fragmented because of all the choices (TV, cable, computer, etc.) we all have. Simply put, there’s less audience during entertainment programs to promote your news.
I like the news director, Michael Sullivan. I liked him from the get-go. He’s a grown-up who knows stability is key to success. At the same time, he can only pay enough for employees to consider this station a stepping stone.
Reporters, please understand: Viewers don’t want to think they’re being used to advance your career!
A succession of owners has left this station with bad equipment and worse morale. That’s just not good. Unfortunately, by virtue of age and experience, the staff in Savannah does not yet know no station has equipment that always works nor every tool they need. When I filled-in at ABC, live shots died all the time. We just had enough people to hide the problems until they were fixed.
Tonight, I saw some reporters/anchors who ‘get it.’ This is really good news. They understand their obligation as journalists. They seem bright and willing to work.
I’ve also seen at least one reporter who doesn’t get it. He’s the crime reporter, but he’s really all about himself. He doesn’t understand, people are watching his reporting to gain insight, not to help his career.
The series is just beginning. I’m sure I’ll revisit it over the next few weeks. If you’re watching it too, please leave a comment.
Blogger’s addendum: The email from Nick Davis shows how ‘retail’ TV has become. He literally is fighting for every viewer. I give him credit for doing everything he can to promote his show.
¹ – It’s on cable. Each episode will be repeated – trust me.