Gimme Ten

Top TV news stories often scrape bottom.

This sort of lineup was the rule, not the exception, at Channel 31 and elsewhere during the survey period, and that's disheartening. Of course, sensational or violent stories must be covered when warranted. Still, they don't deserve attention simply because they fit into this category. Driving to a crash site and turning on a camera may produce non-stop news, but it doesn't qualify as good TV journalism.

Maintaining their Bias: Launched last year, Bias took MediaNews Group and E.W. Scripps, which own the Post and the Rocky Mountain News, respectively, out of their comfort zones -- and the strain is starting to show.

The operation, split fifty-fifty between Media-News and Scripps, promised a range of products gathered under the Bias banner, including a magazine, a highly interactive website and a text-messaging component intended to create flashmobs that would descend on sponsored parties. The idea was to attract members of the youthful demographic who increasingly dismiss traditional newspapers, and some of the early signs were positive; a handful of events were well-attended, for example. But momentum slowed, and in recent months, rumors began to circulate that Bias wasn't long for the world. This grapevine gossip was seemingly supported by inactivity at the project's website, which wasn't updated between mid-May and mid-June.

When contacted about these mumblings, Denver Newspaper Agency spokesman Jim Nolan said Bias is still a going concern, albeit one that is undergoing an Internet revamp -- and indeed, the project's new site, accessible at www.biasdenver.com, popped up shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, danger signs remain. For one thing, the new site is infinitely stodgier than its self-consciously hip predecessor, and it no longer lists the number of Bias members, which had topped out at approximately 7,000. For another, the Bias magazine appears to be on life support. The July 1-15 edition is a mere sixteen pages long (half the length of the first issue, published on June 3, 2005) and contains a grand total of one advertisement not directly tied to a sponsored event. On top of that, the dailies have resorted to pushing this new-school enterprise with decidedly old-school marketing. Prior to a June 24 "pre-game party" tied into a lacrosse match co-starring the Denver Outlaws, the Rocky ran a print ad in its sports section, complete with a clip-and-save coupon for discounted admission -- a technique that's been around nearly as long as the printing press.

Then again, a print ad is something the dailies understand. That's their bias -- not their Bias.

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