In the spirit of the season, The Insider has drawn some New Year’s resolutions, for You-yeah, You, as in Mr. and Ms. Person of the Year, who are likely still to be too giddy from celebrating your anointment by Time magazine to focus on setting personal-improvement goals for 2007.
Hey, it’s easier than making The Insider’s own resolutions (so little time, so many bad habits!).
So, You, let’s aim for:
Heavily promoted crossover appearances between the cheerleaders on NBC’s sturdy hit “Heroes” and its more fragile “Friday Night Lights”; and bad karma for anyone in the business who is not watching and talking up “Friday” for the treasure it is.
Heaps and heaps of love for “CBS Sunday Morning,” which is the most eclectic, adventurous, engaging and rewarding newsmagazine on the air, especially when it does a theme show. It’s like a newspaper you don’t have to go out in the cold to get, that won’t get newsprint all over your comforter, and that the cat doesn’t insist upon sitting on.
More spirit of truth in news marketing, starting with the promos that urge us to “see why more people are watching `CBS Evening News,”‘ when, in fact, it’s been pretty much all downhill since the Sept. 5 debut to 13 million viewers and Katie Couric must be on the verge of wishing she had some of Bob Schieffer’s ratings from the year before.
In fact, CBS News no longer publicly posts its weekly “Evening News” numbers. The release sent to reporters each week updates the season-to-date averages for the once-again third-place evening newscast and skips the week-to-week un-fun stuff.
A spokesperson says the basis for the “more people” claim is that “Evening News” is still ahead of last season on a season-to-date basis-even omitting, as CBS News does, Ms. Couric’s kick-ass first two weeks because the audience was “atypically large.” As of the week of Dec. 11, data collected by Nielsen Media Research and crunched by CBS News showed “Evening News” up 1 percent in total viewers, up 5 percent in the 25 to 54 demo, and up 7 percent in the 18 to 49 demo.
Let’s note that “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” and ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson” are down year to year.
Still, CBS News is at a tipping point on these promos. The options include relenting and adding those first two weeks into the season average-Ms. Couric has every right to claim those viewers-or begin using asterisks and small type on-air to explain that “more people” refers to the 25 to 54 and 18 to 49 demos.
Press releases that include the phone number of someone who is (a) in the office that day, (b) at their desk or otherwise instantly reachable after the release is, well, released, and (c) capable of answering basic questions about the subject of the release. You might be surprised at how often all of the above do not happen, but then you wouldn’t be a reporter on the receiving end of releases.
Fewer televised feuds-especially when it’s kind of hard to work up a rooting interest in either side. The Insider watches TV to escape from the sad realities of her life, not to be pressured to get emotionally embroiled in situations created by someone even angrier than she is. And let’s face it, “The View’s” Rosie O’Donnell and “The Apprentice’s” Donald Trump impugning each other’s looks and motives for speaking out is kind of like, say, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann calling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly a narcissist.
We are not amused. And, no matter what ratings may suggest to the contrary, we are not alone.