Committing to Making the Viewer LOOK UP
Next time you watch one of your newscasts on TV, you may be the only one really watching.

Are you ready to deal with that - ready to produce, write, and anchor news on one screen while viewers shuffle through what else interests them on other screens?

This year, there will be more distracted viewers than ever before.

Attacking the issue will add new dimensions to what you do - beginning with newscast critiques. The post-newscast question for 2015 is this: At what point(s), did you make me look (up)?

Simple question. Necessary question. With, tangible answers.

Consider this exercise: Either alone or with other people at the station, watch the newscast LIVE with other screens around you - and stay engaged in those other screens until the newscast makes you LOOK (up). Take note of what made you connect with the TV screen - and momentarily disregard your cell phone, tablet or computer.

Your first enticement will likely be BREAKING NEWS, SEVERE WEATHER, and/or POWERFUL VIDEO - that the anchors overtly mention. That’s fairly obvious. What else might make you look?

  • Adding fresh, new elements to a big story - with emphasis on “NEW.”
  • Dynamic live reporting - when a reporter leverages his/her location.
  • Process language - when stories feel like they’re being advanced in real time.
  • Anchors/reporters breaking down key facts - preferably at a monitor.
  • Setting up emotional sound bites - creating anticipation, instead of happening out of nowhere.
  • Anchors/reporters (with original language) stating how the story IMPACTS your life.
  • Contradictions from what’s commonly thought - “you may have heard x, but it’s really y.”
  • A clear explanation of the weather headed your way - with radar and maps.
  • A colorful breakdown of a great play in sports.

If you give this exercise a try, your list may include some of these items, but you’ll likely have plenty of your own reasons for LOOKING UP. The critical part is that you do LOOK UP. News producing is now several decades old, but producing in 2015 is actually a new frontier - where the battle is not just finding great content, it’s getting viewers to watch and stay connected to it. No easy task.

The secondary screens of course, are distractions, but can be assets, too. Clearly, they can create richer engagement, whether driving viewers to watch the news on TV or driving viewers from TV for additional content online, on mobile, and on social. But without a powerful core for the 2015 style newscast, the interaction among the platforms will be less robust.

Commit to making the viewer LOOK UP in 2015.

- John Culliton, SVP Media Strategies