TV Q&A: Why do TV newscasts insist viewers go online to get news?

Q: Why does every Pittsburgh news station push their viewers to check out more on this story on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc?

Social media has become a scourge on society today! Perhaps the station management and reporters should watch the documentary on Netflix called “The Social Dilemma” and perhaps they would stop promoting its use by viewers and reporters alike!

– Rob, Greensburg

Rob: They won’t when there’s money to be made! And to be sure, pushing viewers to social media is an attempt to move those eyeballs from one monetization center (TV) to another (websites). It’s an opportunity for stations to try to make more money via advertising on the digital side and not just via commercials on linear TV. My understanding is in newsrooms producers are specifically asked, “What are your web pushes of the day?”

For newscast producers, it’s also a way to legitimately direct viewers to more information on something that will be of interest to a very small segment of the viewing audience (eg a small road closure).

Q: I emailed you about Michelle Chavez from WPXI after she was in a car accident and was off the air. I saw her back one day and then no more. What’s up?

– Wayne, via email

Rob: Perhaps Wayne is not watching newscasts during the Chavez shifts works because she’s been back, reporting for Channel 11 regularly since her return from medical leave in February.

Q: I get up unusually early for work (3 am) and while I’m getting ready, I usually put on the Weather Channel on Verizon FiOS TV to see the bottom scrolling forecast for Pittsburgh and other local municipalities. However, for some strange reason recently the channel has been showing weather forecasts for every other city in the country except for Pittsburgh. It’s kind of annoying when turning on my TV and seeing the temperature in Billings, Mont., Instead of Pittsburgh.

Would you have any way of finding out why this is happening? They only show local weather now maybe once a week at the early time I get ready for work.

– Joe, Pittsburgh

Rob: I first sent Joe’s query to Verizon on March 18 and didn’t get an answer until April 14 and it’s not a very satisfying one: “According to past communications with the Weather Group, this is expected to happen on a nightly basis and there are specific times during which no local content is available. ”

I followed up with the obvious question, why make this change that doesn’t seem very viewer-friendly? I have not heard back.

Q: When CBS replaced the “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor with Norah ODonnell a few years ago, their ratings tanked, and rightfully so. She is extremely hard to watch, kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard. Any chance they will replace her anytime soon with a more professional personality?

– Ed, via email

Rob: Although there had been some speculation she may be on the way out, earlier this month CBS renewed O’Donnell’s contract.

You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.

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