Monday, February 13, 2012

Hey Philly, I Think Whitney Houston Died?

Back in the early 1990s, the Philadelphia Inquirer embarked on a new venture - television news. Their one-hour long 10 pm broadcast featured longer packages that were, in theory, more thoughtful and beyond the reactionary news typical of local newscasts. There would be newspaper reporters working with the broadcast folks to develop this more cerebral news.

It didn't work. Fraught with union issues and tensions between the print and broadcast sides, the experiment folded quickly. After a few months of longer stories, the newscast devolved into the typical run-and-gun newscast. They burst through the hour with a load of stories, few with any thought, mostly reacting to events rather than being proactive.

The Inquirer bailed from the project after about a year or so. The newscast continues today but is now fueled by one of the other local newscasts (the local NBC affiliate). The news you find there is nearly exactly the same as you would find on any of the other newscasts. It barely draws an audience.

So why does it need to exist?

I think of this today, when the covers of all three daily Philadelphia newspapers feature stories and art of Whitney Houston, the Newark, NJ native who died on Saturday in California. She has no connections to Philadelphia, except that she recorded her first album here. Beyond that, she was an international celebrity, meaning you will find news about her everywhere today (not to mention yesterday, and two days ago).

To me, this is a massive waste of resources. People already know Whitney died and that the Grammy's honored her. The Internet spread that information quickly. This is redundancy on the grandest scale.

If you are only going to do the same thing that everyone else is doing, you are competing with the world. There is no reason for you to exist, really. If you focus on what you can do that no one else does, however, you create value in your product.

Focus on local. Focus on what you can do that is different from everyone else.

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