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Local TV News: Stable enough to last

By Jazzy Teen

Reading a black and white newspaper or patiently waiting for the six o’clock news seems to be archaic rituals of the past as we live our technologically savvy lives through the ease of our cell phones. Traditional media sources – newspapers, magazines, radio, television – are all struggling to captivate their audiences as they once had.

In the last decade, the internet has transformed news consumption causing many industries to reinvent themselves as they lose viewers to the new digital era. Local TV news has pulled above the rest regarding viewer loyalty, yet still faces the intimidating future as our society continues to use the latest update or popular app to find their daily news.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-11-20-31-pmA study conducted by Pew Research Center titled “State of the News Media: 2016,” explained that U.S. adults still turn to ‘local TV in greater numbers than many other news sectors,’ which includes radio, print, and network news. This may seem like a positive, yet local TV has lost viewers in all three major time slots including morning, early evening, and late night news. They also saw a decline in nontraditional time slots such as early morning and midday.

Data from Pew Research Center reveals that the highest percentage of local TV news viewers are from the older generations, as younger cohorts turn to digital sources to receive their news, despite local TV news having an online presence. With this data it may seem there’s little hope for the future of this sector of media.

However, local TV news, as explained by Pew Research Center, is still a multi-billion-dollar industry. Of course there are more viewers of local TV news during election season, yet in other times there is still a prominent amount of viewers remaining faithful to local TV. This could especially hold true to sports coverage. Lansing’s WLNS-TV covers sports all over the region. There’s still something very special about seeing people you know and love on TV, rather than just Tweeted about on the internet in 160 characters or less. I believe that as time goes on, the specialness of seeing news and other information on TV will remain steady.

As technology continues to innovate itself, local TV news stations need to do the same. The scarce online presence that local news currently hold could open up opportunities for more television viewers by advertisements. Instead of providing the entire story or detailed interviews on social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, local TV can use these platforms to advertise their station and viewing times of such stories instead. Sometimes, I believe teasers from local stations are actually to in-depth. I can scroll through my Twitter feed and basically get the whole story by shortly skimming.

There is no quick fix to get people to turn on their televisions. As technology advances, so will the access to news. Online and digital news get to the people faster. But for those who still value the fascination and prestige of journalism viewed on a traditional television this sector of media consumption will uphold.

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