“TV news is broken and you get to fix it.” That was the message KREM TV News Director Noah Cooper had for students in the class that produces the nightly Murrow 8 newscast.
On a recent visit to campus, Cooper pointed to a freeze frame of KREM’s 11 pm newscast and said, “This thing that I do at 11, no one cares. You guys don’t watch this.” The three major Spokane stations each draw just one or two thousand viewers for their newscasts, he said, quickly adding, “but that legacy product still makes a lot of money.”
Hearing that the industry in which they hope to have a career is “busted” would seem like a bad thing for Murrow students. But Cooper said it also meant unrivalled opportunities for journalism students.
“We need you to blow up the model,” he told them. “This is a great time in the business because you guys get to decide how we do this in the future.”
That future, he emphasized, is in mobile, twitter and technologies that have yet to be invented. Pointing to a computer, he said, “that’s old news.”
Yet at the same time, local stations are likely to produce more hours of local news because it is cheaper than buying syndicated programming even though the classic Walter Cronkite style of anchoring “is becoming more and more irrelevant.”
Murrow senior Rachael Trost is a part-time producer at KREM and Cooper said he is constantly asking for her opinion about how the station is presenting and distributing the news.
Cooper said asking new hires right out of college for their opinion must become the norm if the TV news business is going to attract young demographics. But at the same time, he cautioned the Murrow students not to arrive at their first job thinking they have all the answers.