Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still the Same

WGAL TV in Lancaster recently celebrated its 60th anniversary on the air. The station produced a special and made it available on DVD. My copy arrived the other day. It's well done, and something jumped out at me while I was watching.

The technology is different. It's a little easier to get video on the air. Computer graphics have improved the weather presentation,but the true heart of the news business is essentially the same. Talk to someone. Get the information and the pictures. Tell the audience what you know. Keep it simple. Done!

That's the essence of news, and that's the way it always be. Unfortunately, what we don't know right now is how that information will be delivered. With some very minor exceptions, radio is shot. TV is struggling. Newspapers are teetering on the edge. No one has really figured out how to make good money off the internet.

The business model appears to be migrating toward spreading the "brand" over several different media and channels. TV stations and newspapers are cooperating like never before in some cities, even moving in to the same building.

The WGAL special was really enjoyable. It brought a back memories of a time when the story was more important than the way you got it on the air, and how you paid for it.

The news business was always attractive to people like me because it was always different. Now, not only is the news different, but the business model is different, and no one really knows where it's going.

A long, strange road, indeed.

And if that isn't enough, our former news director, current friend, and occasional radio talk show host Paul Stueber is offering his take on the end of news at WYOU. It's interesting reading.