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


Dante Chinni, Tom Rosenstiel, Marion Just, Wally Dean, Atiba Pertilla, Todd Belt
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  • Date Published: June 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521691543

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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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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521691543
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 161 x 14 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 Tom Rosenstiel and Dante Chinni
    Appendix A. Design team members
    Appendix B. Quality grading criteria and value codes
    Appendix C. Content analysis intercoder reliability analyses
    Appendix D. Sample of local TV news stations
    Appendix E. 2005 follow-up study

  • 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 twenty 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', Hilo. He has published articles in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Columbia Journalism Review, Campaigns and 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 US 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.


    Dante Chinni, Tom Rosenstiel, Marion Just, Wally Dean, Atiba Pertilla, Todd Belt

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