Friday, March 25, 2011

Is your story age appropriate?

A while back while I was traveling I watched a late local newscast air a lead story and I had no clue what they were talking about.

It was some national clip about a rap star getting in trouble.

I'd bet good money the producer and anchor were under 25.

Here's a newsflash... lead with a story like that, and you've totally lost most of your audience. Because most of your audience is over 35.

Here's another newsflash... you may be a young person working in TV, but most young people don't watch local news.

You have to step back a moment and look at your station's audience. While things like text messaging, tattoos and body piercings may be an obsession with young people, stories about that stuff is a major turnoff to most of the audience.

Yep, we're old, but we're your most loyal viewers.

Stories should have as broad an appeal as possible. If you're going to do a story that skews young, make sure it has some interest to older people. By the same token, if you're doing a story about senior citizens, make it interesting for young people.

How do you do that? Different points of view, grasshopper.

That tattoo story might feature teenagers... and maybe some parents who later had to foot the bill to get the tramp stamps removed. That story on caring for old people might feature a couple of seniors... but the trickle down theory shows that parents who are caring for their older parents no longer have money to send their kids to college. So how does little Johnny feel knowing his college fund is being used to take care of Grandma?

So broaden your appeal and put yourself in the shoes of someone from another generation. If you're young, what would make this story appeal to your parents? Or grandparents? If you're older, do the reverse.

As for how to make a story on a rap star appeal to my generation, I have no clue.


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