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We Interrupt This Newscast
How to Improve Local News and Win Ratings, Too

$32.99

  • Date Published: April 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521691543

$32.99
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About the Authors
  • Local television newscasts around the country look alike and are filled with crime, accidents, and disasters. Interviews with more than 2,000 TV journalists around the country demonstrate that news looks this way because of the ingrained belief that 'eye-ball grabbers' are the only way to build an audience. This book contradicts the conventional wisdom using empirical evidence drawn from a five-year content analysis of local news in more than 154 stations in 50 markets around the country. The book shows that 'how' a story is reported is more important for building ratings than what the story is about. Local TV does not have to 'bleed to lead'. Instead local journalists can succeed by putting in the effort to get good stories, finding and balancing sources, seeking out experts, and making stories relevant to the local audience.

    • Contradicts the conventional wisdom about what succeeds on television news
    • Describes a Magic Formula for ratings success for newscasts regardless of time slot, market size, level of competition, or network affiliation
    • Gives specific advice about how to craft news stories on particular topics, based on actual ratings data from 154 stations in a 5-year study
    • Contains realistic advice from news practitioners about how to change the culture of a newsroom so that these ideas can be put into practice
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The book... is We Interrupt This Newscast. … Get it. Read it. And maybe, most important, buy a copy for your boss."
    Charles Gibson, ABC News, from his Paul White address to RTNDA, 2006

    "Finally, someone has collected the data to prove what I have always believed: you don't have to dumb down the news to get more viewers. The authors show conclusive evidence that if TV journalism is good, good ratings will follow. If enough news directors will just read this book, TV news could be changed forever and for the better."
    Bob Schieffer, CBS News and Distinguished Professor, Texas Christian University

    "We Interrupt This Newscast exposes the conventional wisdom of TV newsgathering and newscast production for what it is, a collection of myths. Give a copy to every person in your newsroom and every person in your promotion department, and hope that your competitors never know it exists."
    Jim Boyer, WHO-TV, Des Moines

    "All of us who have devoted our careers to local news should celebrate We Interrupt This Newscast. The authors marshal compelling analysis and data to demonstrate that local news can survive and prosper if it focuses on well told local stories that deal with important ideas and issues."
    Mike Devlin, WFAA-TV, Dallas

    "At last, here is powerful evidence that explodes the pervasive myth that serious political broadcasts are money-losers. This landmark book, with its guidelines for producing appealing information-rich local news, may well stop the steady slide of local news into civic irrelevance. We Interrupt This Newscast is a clarion call for much-needed reforms, grounded in the realities of America's news business."
    Doris Graber, University of Illinois at Chicago

    "We Interrupt This Newscast is must reading for everyone in local news—print and broadcast alike—and for any citizen or student who cares about the future of news in their community. Through compelling evidence and analysis, the authors demonstrate how and why audiences reward quality journalism and why short-term thinking about profits is a lousy long-term ratings strategy."
    Thomas E. Patterson, Harvard University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521691543
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • contains: 11 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A prologue: what this book is for Dante Chinni and Tom Rosenstiel
    2. The knowledge base Tom Rosenstiel and Marion Just
    3. 'I-Teams' and 'Eye Candy': the reality of local TV news Wally Dean and Atiba Pertilla
    4. The myths that dominate local TV news: the X-structure and the fallacy of the hook and hold method of TV news Wally Dean, Atiba Pertilla and Todd Belt
    5. The magic formula: how to make TV that viewers will watch Todd Belt and Marion Just
    6. Steps to better coverage Todd Belt and Marion Just
    7. Putting it all into action: techniques for changing newsroom cultures Wally Dean
    8. The road ahead: the future of local TV news.

  • Authors

    Tom Rosenstiel, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Washington D.C.
    Tom Rosenstiel designed the Project for Excellence in Journalism and directs its activities. He also serves as vice chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is a former media critic for the Los Angeles Times and chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek magazine. Among his books, he is the author with Bill Kovach of The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect (2001).

    Marion Just, Wellesley College, Massachusetts
    Marion R. Just is Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. She is a co-author of Crosstalk: Citizens, Candidates and the Media in a Presidential Campaign (1996), Common Knowledge: News and the Construction of Political Meaning (1992), and The Election of 1996 (1997).

    Todd Belt, University of Hawaii, Hilo
    Todd Belt is currently Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii' at Hilo. He has published articles in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Columbia Journalism Review, Campaigns & Elections. He also co-authored the book Getting Involved: A Guide to Student Citizenship (2000).

    Atiba Pertilla
    Alba Pertilla is currently a MacCracken Fellow in the Department of History at New York University, pursuing a doctoral degree in U.S. History. As a Research Associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism he published articles in Columbia Journalism Review and Electronic Media (now TelevisionWeek).

    Walter Dean, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Washington D.C.
    Wally Dean is a 35-year broadcast news veteran who is a senior associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism and director of broadcast training for the Committee of Concerned Journalists.

    Dante Chinni, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Washington D.C.
    Dante Chinni is a senior researcher for the Project for Excellence in Journalism and is a columnist for the Christian Science Monitor. He is a regular contributor to the Washington Post Magazine and has written for The Economist, the New York Times Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon and ESPN the Magazine among others.

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