Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FOX 26 gets experimental; technical errors follow

In attempts to get new viewers, FOX 26 KRIV thinks outside of the box for 12pm news and new web show with mixed results

 photo foxnoon_zpsvyuhjrj6.jpg

Every so often, FOX 26 KRIV goes off in its own direction. As of late, it has reformatted its noon newscast and has launched a web only show at 4:30pm called 30 Minutes 'til Air.

Both the 12pm TV news and the web show have the same theme. An anchor is in the newsroom talking to staffers about upcoming stories...and there are a lot of technical errors from the few clips I have seen.

These ideas are really more recycled ones from previous FOX 26 efforts. In 2007, the station had an afternoon web only show that was pretty good and innovative. It had good production value too. In 2010, the station started throwing out the scripts and ad-libbing the news on TV. Both efforts were eventually scrapped.

All I knew about the new FOX 26 noon news was that it looked different. When I finally saw clips from Monday's show, I thought there was an epic meltdown going on. Yes, there were some technical errors, but the rest of the show was supposed to look like that (more on this in a moment).

It's easy to describe the noon show as semi-controlled chaos.

Fox 26 noon newscast clips from Monday

“What makes this program unusual is that we really get to know both the on-air and off-air staff,” KRIV VP and news director Bob Morford told NetNewsCheck's Diana Marszalek about the web only show. “With no scripts at all, everyone ad libs (discussions of) what they are reporting on.”

Ultimately I blame Harvey Levin and TMZ. Levin's syndicated TMZ shows him as the boss, chatting with the newsroom about the day's stories. It's fast paced, comical, creative and overall entertaining. The show also gets decent ratings around the country and I would guess attracts younger viewers.

This seems to cause a light bulb to go off over local TV news managers' heads across the US. They think, "If it's working for TMZ, then we can do this too." It's already a reality in New Jersey.

The only difference is that TMZ has a decent sized staff, comedy writers, good editors/post people and is not live (yes I know there is a live version of TMZ on TV, but I don't even know how live that really is and it's also a different format).

Clearly FOX corporate and KRIV are being seduced by Mr. Levin and his crew. TMZ airs on KRIV by the way.

In Houston, that means the noon news and the web show, consist of an anchor interviewing staffers about upcoming stories. So let's analyze this. To attract more viewers (which is the stated goal of the web show), two talking heads gab about a 1:20 to 1:45 minute story they are working on for a future newscast for about the same amount of time. Then to look hip, they have live shots on iPads that don't seem to have good Internet connections.

"It is kind of like a butcher who has bland undersized sausages that are not selling," one TV insider told "Instead of spicing up his product and making it bigger, he inundates his potential customers with videos of how the bland undersized sausages are made."

This effort also makes me think about a reporter/anchor and other staffers' workflow. Does a reporter have the proper time to work on a story if they have to hang around and fill time on the noon newscast or web show? Will a story's substance suffer due to lack of time to fully work on it? And for the photog who didn't want to be on Monday's web show, will off the air types be forced in front of the camera more often?

And just because it's online doesn't mean it has to look cheap and be thrown together. These days, if you click the "Popular on YouTube" tab, most of the top videos are from network shows or movie trailers and look very professional. Even the so called "YouTuber" stars have more polished looking stuff.

Yes, I am sitting here in the equivalent of my mother's basement blogging away criticisms, but don't get me wrong, I'm all for experimentation like this. In a time when TV ratings are going down and the quest for the key demo is more important than ever, I applaud FOX's efforts here. Nor am I trying to attack the Houston KRIV staffers who are trying their best to implement this with few apparent resources.

"What you don't understand is we don't have the staff and time to make the web show look good and prepare for the 5pm news," says the imaginary TV staffer in my head.

I'm sure that's true. But the audience doesn't care about that. If something doesn't look appealing they have a thousand cable channels, Netflix movies and way more YouTube videos to go look at. First impressions count.

As I've blogged before, low cost creative programming for TV stations is out there.

A newscast FOX 26 won't tamper with is it's morning news block. I hear that show is doing very well in the ratings.

FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston
Monday's official debut of 30 Minutes 'til Air.


  1. Next thing you know, they'll get really innovative and ditch anchors altogether in favor of packaged stories with a rock soundtrack.

  2. McGuff's observations are right on the money. I've tried to watch the Fox 26 Noon and the 4:30 pm webcast. However, it didn't take long to figure out how ridiculous it is to listen to an anchor and reporter talk for two minutes to give an overview of a minute forty-five package that is going to run in the 5pm. Big waste of time. They would be better off rerunning a portion of the morning newscasts at noon and on the web at 4:30 pm. By the way, Channel 2 has a well-staffed and well-edited newscast at Noon with a lot of content. The Fox 26 offering at Noon looks pretty pathetic in comparison and I'm sure that the ratings (or lack thereof) support this.

  3. In the screen capture at the top, it look like Jose is getting fitted for a new pair of pants. I hope Jose saw the Seinfeld episode or the Friends episode to know that the tailor is not supposed to "cup" when he measure the inseam.

  4. Makes NewsFix look good, and that isn't saying much. Gawd awful.

  5. Sums up like this: It's all STOUSH!!

  6. all news is going to hell in a hand basket!!! the days of good, non ad lib newscasts are over. The local stations are an embarrassment!!! I worked in the broadcast production field for 16 years and never saw it this bad!!!! a complete joke!!!!! My advice would be just read the news and stop the ad libbing cause you all suck at it!!!!

  7. Just when you thought that Fox can't possibly suck anymore than it already does...

  8. If the product sucks really bad, 'Take it to Akin'!!!!

    1. I would, but she sucks!

  9. Forget about 30-second promos. Apparently Fox 26 thinks people who tune in for the noon "news" want to watch a 30-minute promo for their later newscasts. Yeah, good luck with that. Clearly they're freaked out by the introduction of KPRC's noon newscast. This trainwreck isn't going to hurt more than it helps.

  10. Based on what I've seen, it's just a matter of time before Fox 26 decides to scrap the Noon newscast and just rerun TMZ in that slot.If the audience wants good local news, they will tune into Channel 2 and if the audience wants entertainment they will tune into TMZ.

  11. Just saw the Noon "Newscast". They need to do the humane thing and put this horse with four broken legs out of its misery. The broadcasts are like unrehearsed and poorly executed Saturday Night Live routines that are definitely not ready for noon-time. You have Jose making the daily excuses for things going wrong because it is live. You have video, audio and lighting equipment fading in and out as Jose wanders aimlessly through the newsroom searching out reporters and AP's who make horrible interviewees. I honestly think if anyone in NY from the Fox O&O group had seen today's broadcast, heads would roll over the weekend and you would see a real newscast by Monday. The noon broadcast not only tarnishes the Fox 26 News brand, it is also an embarrassment to everyone in the Houston broadcasting community.

  12. The reason why news anchors & reporters are bailing from Fox 26 is because of D'Art the dictator!

  13. What a total clusterf**k! Local news has been a joke for some time now. There are too many stations trying to do news and the talent pool is just not there. At most Houston could probably sustain two good competing news broadcasts. That's it. Sorry glory days are long gone. In any event there is really no technological need to have a local station to air national programming, so local over-the-air stations will disappear soon enough.

  14. Bob Morford doesn't have anything to do with the recent success of the morning newscast unless you count the employee turnover that caused him to hired at least five new producers for the morning show and put his assistant news director in charge of the morning show during the ratings hike.

    Everything Bob touches dies, just like it did in Ohio. The dude is collecting retirement and a paycheck, running the station into the ground, and taking credit for anything good that happens while he is the news director.

    There is no reason seasoned journalists like Jose Grinan or Don Teague should be subjected to such embarrassment. He is playing with their careers and their professional credibility and no one cares enough to stop him.

    1. Don't beat up on old Bob. He is probably just following orders from Fox corporate. Sure he doesn't want any of this anymore than Jose Grinan or Don Teague.


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