Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday's story ideas

Home health care alert. How well do you screen those people who take care of the senior citizens in your family? It's easy for a visiting health care worker to simply take personal information from your home, like social security numbers. And are the patients getting the care they're supposed to receive? (In the case of my mother, a worker once billed Medicare for two weeks worth of visits and showed up once.)

The Mayo Clinic says more than 50 million Americans are "pre-diabetic" which means they're at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So how do you know?

Does working the graveyard shift cause cancer? A London study shows that the vampire shift disrupts the biological clock and affects your immune system.

TSA alert. If you're about to go flying with wrapped gifts, the screeners might make you unwrap them. Better to buy your paper and bows when you arrive.

Bell ringer shortage. Did you know the Salvation Army has to pay bell ringers when they can't get enough volunteers?

Crowded college classrooms. We often hear of too many students in K-12 classrooms, but why do colleges have some classes with enrollment in the triple digits? (For what they charge for tuition you'd think you'd get a personal instructor.)

November sweeps are over, let the resume tape parade begin!

Many people simply assume nothing happens this time of year. With November sweeps out of the way, many of us turn our attention to relaxing a bit and enjoying the holidays.

But even though a lot of jobs don't get filled in December, they do in January. That makes this a good time to send your tapes.

Many news budgetary years begin on January first, so some NDs are getting ready to hire for the February book. It will help if they already have some good tapes on their desks when they begin their searches.

So send your tapes now. They won't get lost in the usual deluge brought by the post office. And even if there's not a current opening, you can make an impression that could translate to a job offer down the road.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday's story ideas

More mortgage help. Since they're so tough to get, how can you improve your credit score? Explore some simple things you can do to improve your chances.

Health story. New study reveals having high blood pressure can make you more susceptible to getting Alzheimer's.

Another health story. New study reveals CAT scans may raise the risk of getting cancer.

Get this... seniors are buying the Nintendo Wii for sitting on the couch. (As a middle-aged guy who could barely move after my last afternoon chasing fly balls in the outfield, I can relate.)

Best Buy is no longer selling analog television sets in preparation for the big change in '09. You might want to explain this to your viewers.

Cowboys-Packers tonite... available only if you have a satellite dish.

Travel insurance.... how does it work, and is it worth the money?

Sweeps are over! Get those resume tapes in the mail!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wednesday's story ideas

RJ Reynolds drops cigarette print ads in 2008. How will this affect those who would have been targeted, specifically young people?

No change for the Salvation Army kettles? They now take unused gift cards. If you have one collecting dust in your wallet, the Army is able to convert it to cash.

New medical study reveals that hand washing is the most effective way to fight off the flu.

The hurricane season ends in a few days. Time to look back at those predictions that were way off.

The release of the movie "Golden Compass" is kicking some religious boycotts into high gear.

How to check a charity. There are a lot of scam artists this time of year.

Feature. Are you "decorating challenged?" There are people out there who will turn your home into Martha Stewart's during the holiday season.

Harry Potter and the deathly 1:30 package

Entertainment Weekly magazine just named J.K. Rowling its "entertainer of the year." While it is pretty cool that they picked a writer, there's an underlying message that relates to the way you put your newscast together.

Short attention spans are a myth.

This summer the final Harry Potter novel ran about 800 pages. I finished the thing in two days. Couldn't put it down. And I know I was not alone. Even young people, often accused of having no patience at all, were riveted.

So, in this era of fast bandwidths and webisodes, something that took many hours to read captured the attention of the world.

Which brings us to package lengths.

Over the years they've gotten shorter. When I was on the street, anything under 1:10 was jokingly called a "packlet." Now, those packlets are the norm in many newscasts, as consultants assume viewers sit there with remotes flipping from newscast to newscast if they get bored for thirty seconds. Hence the move toward "high story count." What you end up with are shallow stories that need to be fleshed out and a collection of voiceovers that just fill time and don't concern the viewer.

If you watch the network news you know that solid, longer stories are a priority. They don't worry about having a whole bunch of twenty second voiceovers to keep the show moving. Knock out three or four or five solid stories, and you've got a great newscast.

Good stories often take time to tell. If you've got one, go to your producer or ND and ask for extra time. If you're a producer, be flexible. Do you really need another voiceover on a car wreck or some meaningless crime that affects no one?

Most great stories need time to breathe. Harry Potter can't be wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tuesday's story ideas

We all know mortgages are harder to get right now... how about other kinds of loans, like those for cars?

And speaking of homes that won't sell... they're turning into rental properties as owners stop the bleeding. What's the best way to find a good tenant?

San Francisco bans plastic bags from grocery stores.. will this be a trend that comes to your market?

And speaking of cars, are gas guzzlers flooding the used car market? And who would want one right now?

Stock market. Are we heading into a bear market, and should investors sell their losers to get a capital gains loss before the year ends?

Writer's strike impact. The networks are running out of new episodes... will that mean more business for movie theaters?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Monday's story ideas

Lead testing. Your kid already has a chest full of favorite toys you've bought recently... but how do you know if they're lead free?

Holiday jobs. Stores always add extra help this time of year... is that the trend in your market in light of the economy?

Fruit stand bargains. These operations traditionally buy from local farmers, hence do not have the transportation costs that supermarket chains must pass on to customers. It also helps the environment to buy local.

Cyber Monday. The online shopping version of Black Friday. This is the day many online shopping sites post their big sales... and you don't have to roll out of bed at 4am to get a bargain.

Green Christmas. Spotlight some products that are environmentally friendly. Parents, how about some rechargeable batteries for all those toys?

NFL vs. Big Cable. The matchup of the Packers & Cowboys in a few days is broadcast in the NFL network, available predominantly on satellite. The league is trying to get people to switch from cable to the dish. What's happening in your market... and will sports bars be packed out during this game between two 10-1 teams?