One of the most consistent stories of the news industry year after year is how much FOX dominates cable news ratings. The look of their broadcasts is more eye-appealing than rival networks and the boldness in rhetoric is much more heightened than what you will find anywhere else on television.
A place within television news where FOX doesn’t get as much credit is their local news side. The company’s owned and operated affiliates have slowly created local news powerhouses in some of our nation’s biggest regions. In markets like Washington, D.C. the local news station is either #1 or #2 in the ratings during almost every day part of the day whether you’re calculating total viewers or just the demo.
As syndication has become more expensive, many affiliates have decided to drop the highly produced highly expensive pieces of content from Hollywood and focus on homebred programming. Their newscasts and locally produced talk shows reflect the communities they serve and feature faces their viewers are either more familiar with or more likely to interact with in daily life.
While other local stations are only just now trying this strategy of more original programming within the past couple of years, the company made it its status quo decades ago. On September 11th, 2001, FOX’s local news affiliate in New York was the first media outlet in the world to break the attacks on the World Trade Center. The hyper-local focus is something viewers have become used to.
FOX has even tried to pioneer the same strategy via streaming and they’ve been doing so for decades. Many years ago, FOX’s affiliate in Chicago originated a concept known as LiveNewsCameras.com which provided viewers with a raw news feed of news events as they happen with a live DJ-like newscaster anchoring what’s happening on the screen. It was the precursor for what we now know today as Live Now by FOX which is widely distributed on YouTube and smart TVs and is probably slowly becoming one of the most-watched news networks worldwide because of its reach. Most recently, the company has added streaming exclusive hours of news in Atlanta, DC and other markets.
The focus on streaming convinced FOX to break up their all-encompassing smart TV app. At one point, FOX offered an app that gave viewers the option to watch their local affiliate or FOX’s array of sports and news channels all on one app. The local stations are now offered on their own app known as FOX Local. In my opinion, it’s a bad idea.
The smart TV universe offers so many unique, niche apps. Just among the regular TV subscriber that doesn’t subscribe to the bundle but wants access to the same programs that are within the bundle, a viewer has to download at least 5 or 6 different apps.
On Sunday afternoons, if you’re partaking in NFL football and you’re a cord cutter and don’t have RedZone, for example, you have to switch back and forth between Paramount Plus, Peacock and FOX Sports’ app all day. If you’re watching FOX Sports’ slate of football games then want to watch the primetime lineup, you then have to switch over to the FOX app. If you want to watch the news that follows FOX’s entertainment lineup, you then have to switch to the FOX Local app.
Content creators want to cut the middleman out of their relationship with viewers as much as possible but how can that happen when their newfound relationship just becomes more difficult? Unless someone is a news junkie, segregating local news from FOX’s more lucrative programming in the digital world seems like the worst way to attract viewers to news content that has proven reliable in the past to the communities that it serves.
Television should always make the viewers’ job easier. Programming should be as accessible as possible. Placing news content in an app with a name that’s not recognizable makes it hard for viewers to have access to information when they are in dire need of it during breaking news and/or weather emergencies.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are many things other local broadcasters can learn from FOX and their local news strategy. Their app strategy, unfortunately, is not one of them.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Why I’m Jumping Back Into Local TV
I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news.
Yesterday, I started what I believe will be the final phase of my nearly 50-year career in broadcasting, spanning both radio and TV.
I have roamed the streets of San Francisco looking for breaking news as the late news reporter at KPIX-TV. I picked garlic in the fields of Gilroy to expose the terrible working conditions of California farmworkers for KCBS Radio.
In Chicago, I helped topple the democratic machine by exposing the dead voters registered in the Mayor’s race that tried to prevent Harold Washington — the city’s first black mayor — from winning an election.
Next stop? Los Angeles, where I covered the O.J. Simpson trial for KNBC, coverage that earned the station an Emmy and Golden Mic awards. It also earned me a ticket to NBC network news where I became a national correspondent for Tom Brokaw’s Nightly News. Our team picked up an Emmy for the flood and fire that destroyed Grand Forks, North Dakota, and led to assignments in New York for 9/11 and then off to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Next up were 18 intense years at ABC, where I served as 20/20 correspondent, Primetime correspondent, Senior Law and Justice correspondent, Senior National correspondent, and finally White House correspondent.
In 2020, after health issues, I retired and was offered the opportunity by Barrett News Media to write about the only true profession I have ever known. No longer bound by the rules of just the facts, I was invited to give my opinion on the junction of news and politics. I have enjoyed it and thank Jason Barrett — and you, the readers — for taking the time to follow my thoughts on the great institution of the news media.
But now it is time to return to actual journalism. I have been offered the privilege of reporting again. I have started a new adventure at KGTV ABC10 in San Diego. The location is ideal and the job as Senior Investigative Reporter will be a welcome challenge and a break from the retired life.
It also comes at a time when journalism is under attack by those who feel their opinions trump facts. (Pun intended).
So I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news. I will be holding authorities and politicians to account. Keeping big business honest by protecting the little guy. I take pride in my career in journalism and I want young reporters to be proud as well. A free press unintimidated by would-be dictators is what is needed now more than ever.
So thanks, and once again, I will see you on TV.
Jim Avila serves as a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. An Award-winning journalist with four decades of reporting and anchoring experience, Jim has served as Senior National Correspondent, 20/20 Correspondent, and White House Correspondent for ABC News. Prior to his time with ABC, he spent a decade with NBC News, and worked locally in Los Angeles and Chicago for KNBC, and WBBM. He can be found on Twitter @JimAvilaABC.
Is Oliver Stone the Michael Moore of 2024?
“They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”
In mid-2016, Americans felt the tide turning — with the country rallying around a Donald Trump electoral victory — when liberal filmmaker Michael Moore predicted Trump would win Michigan and the election. Could Oliver Stone be on a similar path in 2024?
Moore was prescient. He heard the people and could sense their overwhelming sentiment. More than anything, he was sounding the alarm bells for his fellow Democrats for what he felt was about to happen.
Last week a media member may have unknowingly let free the 2024 canary in the coal mine, and interestingly, this canary may have been another controversial filmmaker.
Oliver Stone appeared on Bill Maher’s podcast, Club Random, last week and seemed to echo many of the same sentiments from Moore’s premonition eight years earlier.
“Well, I mean, he doesn’t concede elections,” Maher said, bringing up President Trump in the far-ranging, free-flowing conversation. “You know, ‘The elections only count if we win’ theory of government. Okay. Well, come on. You know, Trump, he still has not conceded the election. He has not conceded. He does not honor them.”
“I mean, do you know for a fact that he lost? I’m just curious,” Stone responded. “I just don’t know all of the facts.”
Maher seemed astounded.
“Well, I do. Is there a conspiracy theory that you don’t believe?” Maher asked Stone.
Perhaps Stone was referring to the piles of historical incongruencies and facts, all of which indicated a Trump 2020 win.
No sitting president in the modern era has received more votes for re-election than in his initial election and lost.
Of the 18 most dependable “swing counties” that normally indicate an electoral winner, Trump won 18 of 19. Yet, he lost the election.
No Republican had ever won Florida, Ohio, and Iowa – considered to be a broad cross-section of the American electorate – and lost. Until Trump.
It is difficult to put Oliver Stone in a political box. He has mostly seemed to favor the libertarian philosophy of less government intrusion. On occasion, he has been critical of Trump, while also acknowledging the former President’s ability to tap into populist sentiment that the two seem to share. Less war. Fewer government shackles. More individual and economic freedom.
“I’m just asking you. I’m not an expert on the election,” Stone told Maher. “I’m not a political junkie. You are. And you follow it very closely.”
“Alright then, I’ll give you the thumbnail sketch,” an agitated Maher said. “They tried it in like 60 courts. It was laughed out of every court, including by Republican judges. The people who saved this democracy were Republicans. Good Republicans. In states where Trump pressured them. Like the guy, the one he’s on trial for in Georgia. ‘Find me 11,000 votes.’ It’s on tape. A guy like that saying to him, ‘Sir, we just don’t do that here. I voted for you. I’m a Republican, but we just don’t do that.’ That’s what saved us. And they were Republicans.”
One of the most accurate political pollsters of the modern age, Richard Baris of Big Data Poll, posted on X that “Not even Oliver Stone buys it. Notice when (Bill Maher) tried to dismiss and refute his election concerns, he used a demonstrably false claim to ‘disprove’ it. Oliver, Bill is full of shit. It was not ‘tried’ in 70 courts. Judges used standing to dodge.”
Baris continued in another post, saying, “Also, (Bill Maher) grossly mischaracterized the phone call, using the common fake news talking points that Trump asked the (Georgia Secretary of State) to ‘find 11k votes’. Don’t be lazy, Bill. Read the transcript yourself. He was talking about signature verification and votes not properly scrutinized.”
In the podcast with Maher, Stone went on to say that he had major problems with the outcome of the 2000 election, which resulted in the victory of President George W. Bush. He similarly indicated that he didn’t think 2020 passed the smell test.
“I don’t know. I mean, you went through the 2000 election. That was horrifying to me, what happened when the Supreme Court closed that down.” Stone said.
“What should we do?” Maher asked. “Do we just keep counting votes forever? Or should we still be counting them now?”
“No. Count them correctly,” Stone responded. “Let’s just get rid of the electoral college. Let’s do a popular vote.”
Oliver Stone continued, calling out the media for their biased reporting in the era of Trump.
“I don’t know the facts,” Stone said. “And I think I would trust the accountants more than the politicians. And I’d like to know what the accountants, the guys who vote, who know the most about votes, who do the Electoral Commissions. I can’t take Biden’s word for it on anything.”
“Well, I mean, if there’s nothing that can be said or argued that would convince you,” Maher offered.
“I think what shocked people is that Trump got so many votes. You know, that was what was shocking. That he did so well compared to what he was expected to do,” Stone said. “Because we believed all the East Coast media.”
“Then why do you believe he could have lost?” Maher asked his guest about Biden.
“We believed all the East Coast media elite that he was going to fail and boom, they were wrong. We would love to see them being wrong, don’t we? The media elite,” Stone said. “They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”
Bill Maher even agreed with Stone, admitting that the media no longer attempts to give a balanced, truthful reporting of the day’s events. In addition, neither mentioned the years-long, Democrat-led coup attempt that was designed to trick the public into thinking Trump was a Russian agent. Most of the mainstream media parroted the hoax.
“I was actually having this discussion about the CNN network recently. And, you know, I want there to be a CNN in the world. You know, something that I used to be able to count on. And I still do, some of it. Give it to me straight, Doc. Just give me the news,” Maher said.
“And, you know, they had this town hall with Trump about six months ago. And it was, they took a lot of flack for it. But he was adored by the audience who were Republicans, I guess, and independents. I think they said both. But whoever it was, they fucking loved him. And then the panel comes on after and they do nothing but shit on Trump and what a liar he is.”
Like Michael Moore eight years prior, Oliver Stone seemed to be sounding the alarm bell about what’s over the horizon, a mere 11 months from now. He concluded by drawing the analogy of Trump to a legendary baseball player who was famously banished from the game over gambling allegations a few decades ago.
“I think a lot of people liked him because he got dumped on so, so much. It’s like Pete Rose. You know, when he quit. Yeah. A lot of people started to resent the media for the dumping on Pete Rose.”
Oliver Stone is sounding the alarm. And the chirping canary very well may crescendo in 2024.
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
How Did Trust in Media Reach All-Time Lows?
Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation.
In my previous column, I wrote about Americans losing trust in the media.
Both conservatives and liberals can find ample examples to demonstrate why specific media sources are no longer trustworthy.
We have become a nation of two tribes. Each side has sources of news that it believes and considers the other side fake news or even propaganda.
The Economist and YouGov published a poll earlier this spring measuring how much trust Americans place in 56 media outlets, including social media.
Respondents were asked whether they “trust, distrust, or neither trust nor distrust” each media organization. The percentage of trust minus mistrust scores was calculated to create a “net trust score” for each.
Overall, The Weather Channel, arguably the only non-political entity measured, is the most trusted news source. It is ironic, considering how often we all complain about the “weather people” getting it wrong. Democrats (+64) and Republicans (+47) trust The Weather Channel.
The top four most trusted organizations were the same as the 2022 YouGov survey.
Here are the overall rankings of the 45 organizations published in the Economist-YouGov Poll.
- The Weather Channel +53
- Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) +30
- The BBC +29
- The Wall Street Journal +24
- Forbes +23
- The Associated Press +22
- ABC +21
- USA Today +21
- CBS +20
- Reuters +20
- NBC +19
- TIME Magazine +18
- The Washington Post +18
- National Public Radio (NPR) +16
- The Economist +16
- Business Insider +16
- The Guardian +15
- C-SPAN +14
- The New York Times +12
- Newsweek +12
- The New Yorker +10
- Bloomberg +10
- The Atlantic +10
- The National Review +8
- CNN +7
- New York Post +7
- The Hill +7
- Yahoo News +7
- Newsmax +6
- Axios +6
- Politico +6
- MSNBC +5
- One America News (OAN) +4
- The Washington Examiner +4
- Fox News +3
- The Federalist +3
- Slate +3
- Al Jazeera +1
- The Daily Beast +1
- HuffPost +1
- BuzzFeed News ±0
- Daily Kos −1
- Breitbart News −3
- The Daily Caller −4
- Infowars −16
Note: People who say the media organization is neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy, or that they don’t know, are not included in the calculation.
The differences between Democrats and Republicans are remarkable. In general, Republicans have less trust in the media overall.
Republicans have the most trust in Fox News and positive trust only in Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Independents have a slight degree of trust in most news organizations, while Democrats have a significant degree of confidence in most of the media groups measured, except for Fox News.
|Organization||Democrat Net Trust||Independent Net Trust||Republican Net Trust|
|New York Post||+18||-1||+3|
|New York Times||+53||+8||-30|
|Wall Street Journal||+42||+19||+9|
Republicans and Democrats see information through completely different filters. The results for the entire survey, including crosstabs, can be found here.
Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation. The media needs to do its part to bridge the divide.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at an[email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.