You may have noticed that over the past month, WTMJ Channel 4 (our local NBC affiliate) has been on a sensationalist tear during “sweeps” to increase it’s ratings, especially during it’s 10 p.m. newscast.
During that time, we’ve been subjected to breathless stories and relentless promos about “TAX INCREASES!”, the sexual orientation of school board members, overpriced trash cans, and just about anything that could make enough waves to bring in some viewers. Indeed, no stone was left unturned in WTMJ’s quest for slime, much, and ratings.
Ironically, the real story here may be the one about how Wisconsin’s largest media conglomerate penchant for the preposterous may have backfired on them.
The ratings for the past month’s 10 p.m. newscasts are in, and WTMJ Channel 4 managed to come in a disappointing second, despite their best efforts.
The highest rated 10 p.m. newscast over the past month was WISN Channel 12, the local ABC affiliate, with WTMJ coming in second .
We stopped watching any newscast from Channel 4 several years ago when they decided to start focusing on creating the news rather than reporting the news and switched to Channel 12. While they’re not perfect either, the kind of coverage they give to local news stories is much better than what the other local stations provide. It’s also an added bonus that our neighbor does the weather on Channel 12, so it’s nice to see her on the T.V. once in a while.
WTMJ management is going to take one of two things away from this. Either they will see this as some vindication that what they’re doing is working, and the only reason they didn’t get #1 was because their coverage isn’t sensational enough. Or they’re going to see that their brand of coverage isn’t what Milwaukee area residents are looking for and that a more respectable newscast focused on real local news – not stories that they fabricate and hype – is the future for them.