Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's as simple as A...B...C

When what you see in person can be supplemented (or reinforced) by something you see in the news, then there is a synergy. Such synergy happened on Tuesday during the second day of The Washington Center's politics and media academic seminar.

ABC's long-time White House correspondent Ann Compton addressed the students and faculty about her beat, her career and the often times overlooked but important commitment to balancing a professional and personal life.

Perhaps the most important item she discussed was how covering the White House now differs from when she began in that role in late 1974. At that time, the three television networks had no cable competitors, no 24/7 pressures and no Internet. And the media agenda largely was set by the president and the major newspapers.

Now, however, the mainstream media -- while still being a potent agenda setter -- competes with bloggers, social media and a host of other competitors in reaching the audience.

In fact, Ms. Compton noted the Internet "is the big gateway to the American audience."

Later in the day, I came across an Associated Press story that examined how ABC News' executives are ramping up their commitment to delivering "nonfiction content."
ABC News' new advertising slogan is "see the whole picture," and division President Ben Sherwood said Monday that reflects an effort to broaden his journalists' definition of what they do.

Sherwood said his goal is to make ABC News one of the world's premier providers of non-fiction content. While that doesn't mean producing cheesy reality shows, Sherwood said his journalists need to have a more entrepreneurial eye about how they present information.
"We are journalists, we are storytellers, we are interested in the world," Sherwood said. "We shouldn't be interested in the way things have always been done."
One can hope that Mr. Sherwood's commitment includes an emphasis on the stories that matter rather than the stories that are sure to attract eyeballs.

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