I see that WNYT will be heavily committed to covering President Obama’s upstate bus trip. That’s terrific — except he won’t be anywhere near Albany. The station will have a reporter in Syracuse today and one in Binghamton tomorrow.
This brings up an interesting question: will they really bring anything to the table or is this just window dressing?
Local TV news loves dispatching reporters to big stories outside their market. It’s cool and it looks great, but I don’t think these jaunts to do anything to advance the viewer’s understanding of the story. What are they going to do, sit down and talk to the president? No, it’s more likely they’ll find some “local people” at the event to interview.
You may think mine is a cynical view, but it’s no more cynical than thinking you can fool your viewers with a lot of transparent nonsense. Maybe it would be better to do a great job on a local story, instead of going to Syracuse just so you can say you were there.
So why do they do it?
Well, whenever this happens, the promo department is inevitably commanded to produce a proof of performance promo explaining how theirs was the only local station to cover the story with such verve and commitment. The calculus of TV news promotion goes as follows: more people will see the promo than actually saw the story. And the promo will probably be more interesting.
A good promo producer will resist the urge to roll their eyes. I never quite mastered that level of self-control.