The Detroit Free Press has hit two milestones this week. 1). The paper celebrated its 178th birthday. 2). The paper launched a new TV news morning program called “First Forecast Mornings” that airs from 5-7 a.m. on WWJ-TV.
With traditional media outlets having to adapt quickly to survive today’s 24-hour news cycle and the ever-growing popularity of social media platforms, I was excited to check out this new initiative to bring print media value to a local TV audience.
After viewing the program this morning for the first time, the host, with weather and traffic updates intertwined very frequently, teased viewers with headlines that are appearing in today’s print edition. It was certainly different than watching the other “traditional” local news morning shows.
First, the visuals from the paper’s website, accompanying the teased print stories were unusual. TV news watchers are accustomed to the sights and sounds of news stories – the people, places and quick sound bites that easily provide the necessary information and keep a viewer’s attention during busy morning routines. Viewing the story from the paper’s website as a visual I found to be frankly, less exciting. For some stories, they did elaborate further with additional video content. These packages were bulky. Three days in to the program’s existence, this is to be expected.
Secondly, Detroit has always been (in my opinion) one of the best local broadcast markets in the country. Even while traveling to large cities like New York, I find myself a ‘news snob’ thinking, “we have such better news at home,” spoiled by the professional, network type quality news available locally. However, often to get the full story you have to read more about it to understand the details and impact. Because that’s the nature of the beast, TV serves as the teaser to newspapers. In this case, the difference is the teaser is brand specific—and without the glitzy set.
My guess is the Free Press isn’t trying to be a trailblazing TV producer. But, if this show can garner additional interest in their core product, I’d say it’s a smart–and groundbreaking–idea from a branding standpoint.
In an age where “traditional” media outlets can’t adapt quickly enough to obtain lasting interest from consumers who have more choices of how and where to get their information, I’d say this is the change that is necessary. For a 178 year old who needs to change her ways now to live on, I’d say it’s a good start. We’ll have to stay tuned.