Caught a little of the Weather Channel’s “coverage” of Hurricane Wilma this morning (since it’s headed sorta towards my hometown, there is more than a passing interest). In the span of two commercial breaks, I became completely uninterested in anything they had to say.They had reporters scattered to different spots, which seems to be standard hurricane fare, and came on to each with a live teaser that essentially said they’d be telling me something of great importance coming up. Then they’d hit a commercial, come back to the studio (complete with a fruit bowl!) and tell me again that they were going to tell me something great. Finally they’d return to their live roving reporter, complete with some expert (mayor of Key West, chief of police in Hollywood, FL, etc.) and proceed to say nothing that anyone who has been within 200 miles of a hurricane or seen 30 minutes of Katrina coverage could quote verbatim. Thirty minutes later, I happened upon more “coverage” to discover they were still trying to tell me why I needed to stick around to hear what turned out to be what they had already said. The favorite beginning to their segments was the word or some variant of the word “Again…”.Pardon the cynical moment, but I believe that the Weather Channel couldn’t care less about news, weather or otherwise, as long as they keep viewers and sell advertising. And it’s may very well be good business to spend 17 minutes of a 30 minute program telling the viewer what is coming. But as someone who appreciates a well-made point, I vote that TV news has to rate at or near the bottom of good communication. The average listener does not have the patience to stay with a message long enough to hear three teasers before getting the meat. Good presenters may hit the audience with a “what’s in it for you” near the start of a speech, but things better move quickly on to the content, or their credibility, the audience’s attention, and any chance of closure will be lost by the time the point is made. With the exception of TV, I can’t think of a credible reason (other than being paid to keynote for a particular amount of time) to extend a message when it can be made simpler, shorter, and quicker.
Tell them. Don’t tell them you’re going to tell them.