2018 begins and with it comes resolutions— fresh terms and fresh thinking. If I were in charge of media terminology, here’s what I’d suggest we change in the new year:
- Old Term: Digital First New term: Audience First
Most stations have outgrown the fear of putting news on digital before broadcast. Most stations get it—that digital is a big deal. So, in 2018 let’s get smart and balance resources to deliver news on multiple platforms based on audience needs, habits, and lifestyles. AUDIENCE FIRST.
- Old term: Sweeps New Term: Planning
There are still lingering strategies to support “sweeps” months. There still might be some bragging rights associated with Nov/Feb/May—but ask any director of sales in 2018 and they’ll tell you they need year-round ratings to make money. So, it’s all about PLANNING for opportunities every month of the year.
- Old term: Professional New Term: Relatable
Being professional remains an objective for our on-air talent, but it’s simply not enough. Viewers are looking for more. More empathy, more authenticity, a greater understanding how stories affect their emotions. If it’s fake and scripted, it won’t work. But increasingly the audience wants real people, RELATABLE people on their screens.
- Old term: Pace New Term: Momentum
You can crank up story count, shorten every story, and make the anchors read as fast as they can, but the audience may still not watch or stop watching. The best newscasts keep changing the pace, changing the visuals, changing the language—making pace a secondary component to MOMENTUM, a sense the newscast keeps regaining viewers’ attention by varying the ways stories are handled.
- Old term: Developing New Term: Breaking
Saw the term “BREAKING” on a lower third graphic and found immediate affection for it. Newsrooms fight about what they call “breaking news” or how long to use the term “breaking news” as a story unfolds. They often fall back on “developing” (very weak). BREAKING, as a stand-alone showcase, extracts the timing of when a story actually broke—but sustains the urgency. It does not replace breaking news, it merely extends it. (so does Breaking News Update which we helped develop a few years ago).
- Old term: Traffic Report New Term: Traffic Alert
Traffic on TV struggles to stay relevant with the increased use of traffic apps. Traffic struggles among viewers who don’t plan to leave the house soon—or have a short commute. So, a traffic overview will gradually lose value—but a TRAFFIC ALERT mindset, which focuses on changes and anomalies, is where we’ll need to go to keep traffic alive on TV.
- Old term: OTS Graphic (over-the-shoulder) New Term: VB Graphic (visual-boost)
No more handcuffs, corpse outlines, crime tape, gavels, and unrecognizable logos in the OTS graphic—unless you’re wearing bell bottoms. Laugh, but it’s amazing how many 1970’s OTS graphics get used. Why is that, I ask? Anything we put on the screen with an anchor should be a VISUAL BOOST to the story telling. BAMS and big monitors have helped ignite VB graphics, but even some of those are too static. A close-up of an anchor is a good thing, an anchor sharing the screen with a compelling visual is a good thing, but everything else needs to go.
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