We Interrupt This Newscast
How to Improve Local News and Win Ratings, Too
by Tom Rosenstiel, Marion Just, Todd Belt, Atiba Pertilla, Walter Dean, and Dante Chinni
“We Interrupt This Newscast: How to Improve Local News and Win Ratings Too” uses empirical evidence, social science analysis and actual ratings data to disprove much of the conventional wisdom about what works to win viewers in local TV news. The work is based on five years of research of 154 stations in 50 markets – more than 33,000 stories, plus survey data of news professionals and workshop interviews with more than 2,000 TV journalists. The findings show that flashing lights, yellow police tape and “hook and hold” structure of most newscasts actually drive viewers away. So does that idea that only certain topics are interesting. Instead, the book shows that by telling stories better, with more balance, deeper sourcing, and more real information, newscasts have a undisputable record of winning in the marketplace. The problem is there just aren't enough of those kinds of stories.
"The book... is We Interrupt This Newscast. … Get it. Read it. And maybe, most important, buy a copy for your boss."
- Charles Gibson, ABC News,
from his Paul White address to RTNDA, 2006
"Finally, someone has collected the data to prove what I have always believed: you don't have to dumb down the news to get more viewers. The authors show conclusive evidence that if TV journalism is good, good ratings will follow. If enough news directors will just read this book, TV news could be changed forever and for the better."
- Bob Schieffer, CBS News
and Distinguished Professor,
Texas Christian University
"All of us who have devoted our careers to local news should celebrate We Interrupt This Newscast. The authors marshal compelling analysis and data to demonstrate that local news can survive and prosper if it focuses on well told local stories that deal with important ideas and issues."
- Mike Devlin,
"At last, here is powerful evidence that explodes the pervasive myth that serious political broadcasts are money-losers. This landmark book, with its guidelines for producing appealing information-rich local news, may well stop the steady slide of local news into civic irrelevance. We Interrupt This Newscast is a clarion call for much-needed reforms, grounded in the realities of America's news business."
- Doris Graber,
University of Illinois at Chicago
"We Interrupt This Newscast exposes the conventional wisdom of TV newsgathering and newscast production for what it is, a collection of myths. Give a copy to every person in your newsroom and every person in your promotion department, and hope that your competitors never know it exists."
WHO-TV, Des Moines
"We Interrupt This Newscast is must reading for everyone in local news—print and broadcast alike—and for any citizen or student who cares about the future of news in their community. Through compelling evidence and analysis, the authors demonstrate how and why audiences reward quality journalism and why short-term thinking about profits is a lousy long-term ratings strategy."
Thomas E. Patterson,