From the department of You Just Don't Get It, Do You: Tribune Co. is planning to blow the traditional TV newscast apart in an attempt to imitate the experience of Web browsing on TV. The new format presents a rapid series of pre-taped stories, video clips and images with no anchors and few on-air reporters.
It's sort of like consuming news and information on the Web, except without the interactiveness that is sort of, well, central to consuming news and information on the Web.
The newscast, called NewsFix, would rely on mostly off-camera narration in a glib, conversational style that takes an "irreverent, at times even snarky, tone in describing the details of news stories." The newscast is enhanced with soundtrack music and on-screen graphics and sound effects (!).
TV stations have structured newscasts around anchors since the 1950s.
Tribune Co., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, said the format is about shaking up TV news, not saving money. This embarrassingly hip job listing for a "preditor" describes NewsFix as a "groundbreaking morning news/infotainment format unlike anything ever attempted on local TV," and brags, "The TV revolution is upon us - and the new Tribune Company is leading the resistance."
We're all for shaking up TV news. But is imitating the Web the way to go? It's hard to imagine reading the news on the Web without things like hyperlinks, email, Facebook, Digg and the New York Times's "Most Popular in This Section" box. A recent Pew study showed 75% of people who consume news online get it through email and social media sites.
The newscast will include a segment for user-generated video. But is that enough to engage Web-savvy viewers, who are used to - at the least - being able to comment on news stories? It's the things that only the Web can do that make getting news from it such a pleasure.
Also, the new format sounds like it will go for shock value - arguably the worst quality in the TV news legacy. "It's a bunch of noise and graphics," a former KIAH producer who blogged about the program at TVNewsCheck told Poynter.org.