When I posted Otis Taylor's breaking news message about the latest front-line talent change at a Columbia television station, one of my Facebook "friends" commented, "ouch, not very stable lately…" That's not a good commentary coming from a viewer and television stations should take note.
While those of us who have made our livings in television news would like to think we are irreplaceable, it just isn't true. Change is often difficult, scary and sometimes unnecessary. Despite those things, change is almost always inevitable. Change can be tough to accept, for everyone involved, but eventually things stabilize again.
I'm betting that viewers in Columbia hope things once again stabilize, and stabilize soon. Every television news operation in Columbia has undergone significant on-air changes in the last couple of years, most of them in the last eight months. And, based on what many people say to me, adjusting is very tough on viewers.
Consider these major departures since December 2008:
5, 6, 7, & 11pm
5, 6, 7 & 11pm
6 & 11pm Sports
6 & 11pm
Those are a lot of departures. Many of them were sudden and from the viewer's standpoint, unexplained. As a former insider, I can tell you that when your favorite anchor or reporter disappears with little to no explanation, chances are good that it was-- how should I put it-- not what everyone involved wanted.
Then come the replacements; the "strangers" that I mentioned earlier. Most stations take considerable care in selecting new talent to bring in, particularly when they must replace well liked and long tenured anchors. It's bad enough that viewers might be disappointed and turned off by the departure of the person they liked. Managers certainly wouldn't want their new choice to make things worse. Losing viewers means losing ratings points. Losing ratings points means losing money. Losing money means... well, you get the drift.
That's the business and for better or worse, that is what television news is-- a business. We take the good with the bad; the pleasant with the not so pleasant; the smart decisions with the not so smart decisions. The goal is to produce objective newscasts but the rules of the game are very subjective based on whoever gets to make those rules.
Hang tough, viewers. Wholesale changes like the ones you've seen lately are cyclical. The dust will settle, eventually.
What do you think? Chime In!