Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How long until the end of TV news as we know it?


When I was in Austin this week, I spoke with a couple of longtime broadcasters about the future of local and network TV news. They agreed it was bleak.

I take no relish in this assessment. The Texas Association of Broadcasters has been a strong ally of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, the Texas Press Association and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. The broadcasters stood tall in the fight for open government, which resulted this week in a huge victory with the passage of a shield law for journalists.

The broadcasters agreed their audience is leaving them for the Internet and on-demand video. They're not sure how TV stations remain relevant in the 21st century, but they know the Web is part of the answer.

What bothers me, though, is the relatively small amount of news coverage about the shifting TV audience. If you ask most people on the street, they would have no idea about the struggles of TV news stations. On the other hand, I expect quite a few would tell you they hear newspapers are dying, even though our audience is growing when you look at print and online.

A study last week revealed this is not just my perception. Researchers showed newspapers and TV news shows have devoted little attention to this audience flight. You may read the New York Times story on the study by clicking here.

One broadcaster I spoke to suggested people didn't notice what was happening to TV stations because they had such smaller news staffs to start with compared to newspapers. No one is decrying the layoffs at TV news stations because people don't see it -- and few are reporting it. Here's a link to a rare story that does report on the TV industry's struggles. Of course, even this story manages to include newspapers because our industry is so incredibly self-absorbed.

Again, I'm not advocating the death of TV news. I'm just hoping for a little balance when reporting the shifting media landscape. Even Barbara Walters is saying this: "The only programs that will be here 10 years from now are the morning shows. Everything else you can TiVo or see on the Internet."

If Barbara is saying it, why are so few reporting it? I guess I can join the long list of people critical of news coverage.