When KOKH-TV wanted to produce a weeklong series on the demise of newsprint, they sure didnt look very far. (I know what you’re thinking: Who produces weeklong series anymore? Answer: About five more people than actually watch them.) Why should they – when just down the road the local paper proved such an easy target? Like lots of paid publications, The Oklahoman is losing readers, hemorrhaging relevancy and (gulp!) raising their prices! Remember, every time a newspaper goes under, a twenty-something news producer who only reads Facebook gets their wings. Is it any wonder what happens next?
Disclosure: I’m totally bereft of any insider information on this matter. Sure, I helped commandeer a certain costume shop in nearby Norman, traded shots with fellow photogs and scratched my head at all those standing ovations - but aside from some NPPA Workshop schwag, I don’t know squat about media machinations in Oklahoma City. However, I do know a thing or three about the acidic relationship between TV stations and their closest newspaper friends. Friendly, it ain’t. You’re more likely to get that creepy Burger King dude to cough up something he likes about Mayor McCheese than hear a broadcaster point out anything positive about those ink-stained wretches down the road. Likewise, print folk will glady lambast the efforts of their nearest affiliate – often with words we TV dweebs don’t even understand. So when I say I’m fair and balanced in the following reportage, well, you never really believed that hooey, did ya?Now,I don’t know if reporter Nick Winkler wanted to do this story, but he certainly gave it his all. College professors, ex-readers, newspaper delivery boys all growed-up: dude talked to everybody! Of course the folks at The Oklahoman declined to speak on-camera, but you can damn sure believe they caught every frame of a five part series that pretty much celebrated their impending extinction. You stay classy, Fox 25! Of course by local TV standards, the stories were pretty even handed, though you can almost hear the high-fives being traded back at KOKH. I’m not saying their information was anything less than accurate, but if I crafted that a smarmfest like that, I’d have to go home at lunch just to shower. Worse yet, The Oklahoman followed the station’s playbook by cranking out a shrill set of ads questioning the broadcast outlet’s intent. “Hey, I got an idea! Let’s heap some publicity on that ten minutes of television where they say we suck! Who’s with me?”
I’m not – even though FOX 25 did further dirty the waters by putting together a sixth piece, in which they sought out the reasoned opinion of (shudder) some bug-eyed radio hack. What’s next, some clown in the park wanna pantomime his displeasure with the glaring lack of floppy shoes for sale in the classified ads? I’m all for nuanced analysis of the Fourth Estate, but easy on the self-congratulatory crosstalk, people. Before any of us know exactly what’s happening, the death of local television will be documented too. But it won’t appear in any musty old newspaper. It’ll be twittered, in 140 characters or less. TTFN!