One of my first creative editing projects at KOCT occurred about 27 years ago and is reflective of today’s topic ‘Attention Spans & Community Events’. Matt Beck and I spent an early spring day videotaping the ‘beach opening’ event at the pier band shell, musical groups, jet ski’s, dancing and speeches. I edited a 12 minute highlight program and showed it to my boss, the late founder of KOCT, Bob Bowditch. He said he enjoyed the program but that KOCT normally didn’t spend that much time in the field, editing and not produce a 60 minute program.
Fast forward to the new monthly series of Newsbriefs that KOCT is now producing that average 2 minutes in length. There is a multitude of reasons (and media choices) that explain shorter programs and shorter attention spans including:
- People with smartphones/tablets now spend an average of almost 3 hours each day on them
- Viewers are watching less live television but spending more time in front of other media screens
- On-line video viewing is increasing for all Americans
A article in the Brookings Institution, ‘The Bad News about the News’ stated it well “ Today’s young people skitter around the Internet like ice skaters, exercising their short attention spans by looking for fun and, occasionally, seeking out serious information. Audience taste seems to be changing, with the result that among young people particularly there is a declining appetite for the sort of information packages that great newspaper provided….”
Another article on the increasingly blurred line between advertising and ‘straight news’ puts this dilemma well: “…audiences only have a fixed amount of attention, and that on the Web they’re only one cluck away from every piece of information on the planet, the challenge was not on how to compete against other brands, it was how to compete with media-all of it”.*Columbia Journalism Review / Nov-Dec 2014 “The Wolf at the Door”
KOCT has done a good job meeting some of these challenges all of our programs are available as Video On Demand which means viewers can watch any program not just when it is scheduled on KOCT’s television channel 18 & 19 but wherever they are via their smart phone, tablet or computer.
However one dilemma both we the program producer and you the viewer face is the challenge of connecting with local information. Tonight’s Journalist Roundtable is a perfect example we have 4 great guests each of whom will be interviewed for about 12 minutes each, a reasonable amount of time to explore issues such as gang violence, our community hospital or hear what our Mayor believes are the important issues he will address in 2015. But 12 minutes is about 10 times as long as the ‘average’ cable news interview and far longer than the average funny cat video.
The difference is that community issues do more than amuse, they inform. The topics involve your family, neighbors, co-workers and children. The topics may concern your neighborhood and for example, could affect your commute in the morning. Community issues often require an attention span and a little bit of time to learn about the various sides and issues.
KOCT’s disadvantage is we are in a world-wide-web competition for your attention. Our advantage is we are the only one of those media choices whose sole focus is the issues and events of North San Diego County. KOCT doesn’t expect we are your only choice, but we should be one of them. Because you can stay connected to your community by tuning to KOCT-Your Community Channel.