The "News of Your Choice" Experiment in the Twin Cities:
What Kind of Choice Did Viewers Get?
On a late summer evening in 1994, television news viewers were given a
choice. Eight minutes into the 10:00 p.m. newscast on CBS-owned WCCO-TV/4 in
Minneapolis-St. Paul, the co-anchors announced that if viewers wanted the full
the weather, they should stay tuned to Channel 4. But if they wanted a
weather report followed by more local news, viewers were encouraged to switch to
Channel 23, a UHF outlet. Thus began an experiment dubbed "News of Your Choice"
the 14th largest television market in the United States.
This paper examines the "News of Your Choice" experiment and attempts to
answer the following research questions:
--what, if anything, did the Channel 23 newscast add to the market for local
--how did this large-market station design its newscasts to take advantage of
innovation of "choice" and "interactivity"?
The study examines newscast content, story treatment, sources, and overall
newscast characteristics using a content analysis of the news broadcasts and an
with WCCO's then-general manager, John Culliton.
"News of Your Choice" was an innovative, low-tech experiment with designing an
"interactive" newscast. The CBS-owned WCCO station aired a 35-minute newscast
10:00 p.m. and was the overall ratings leader in that time period, although they
the important 18-49 and 25-54 age groups. In the summer of 1994, the station
consecutive Saturday night tests of a simulcast news program in conjunction with
TV/23, a then-independent UHF station that ran old movies, reruns, and had no
operation of its own. WCCO bought a 35-minute block of time on KLGT for cash
minute of commercial time that KLGT could sell during its portion of the
first segment of the news program was simulcast, with identical content on each
After the first segment, the programs diverged, with unique content for the
middle of the
broadcast on each station. Anchors on the two stations provided extensive
what was coming up next on each program. The two stations came back together
simulcast of the final story and close of the program.
The "News of Your Choice" idea was born out of principles that had emerged over
a long time period, according to WCCO's then-general manager John Culliton
1996). Internal research and ratings data indicated that channel switching
newscasts was already rampant among viewers. "News of Your Choice" was a
preemptive strike against channel hopping, with a hope that by telling viewers
could turn for something they might want, WCCO would be able to claim those
for advertising purposes. In addition, there are many polarizing issues in
newscast. Focus group and public forum participants who talked to WCCO
had many responses to individual elements of a newscast. Some people said the
segment was too long; others wanted more. Some said WCCO's "Dimension" segment
regular middle-of-the-newscast mini-documentary) was great; others thought it
much time from other news. Sports was a favorite segment among some, but was
disliked by others. The "News of Your Choice" idea was an attempt to gain some
flexibility in designing a newscast around these polarizing issues.
Also, WCCO had a reputation for innovation and trendsetting. The "News of
Your Choice" experiment was another in a line of format innovations, including
"Dimension" segment, the "Your News" approach and campaign, a short-lived
with "Family Sensitive News" during the 5 p.m. newscast, and other promotional
marketing experiments. Finally, the "News of Your Choice" experiment was
enhance WCCO's share of the market through higher ratings, and to make
money from advertising sales.
After the initial summer 1994 test broadcasts, the viewer response to "News of
Your Choice" was highly favorable, with 95 percent of 500 callers registering a
view. Early data on the experiment showed that people switched from Channel 4
they were prompted, and the most frequent switchers were the younger viewers
WCCO was hoping to attract to their new format. However, rival KARE-TV/11 (the
NBC affiliate) news director Janet Mason claimed that she saw people moving not
Channel 23 when prompted, but also to her station's newscast. (Upshaw, 1994).
Based on the ratings data, which showed a small but measurable rise in Channel
ratings when the audience totals for both stations were combined, and on the
response from viewers, WCCO managers decided to launch "News of Your Choice" as
permanent feature of the 10:00 p.m. newscast starting in January of 1995. The
the experiment quickly changed after being launched as a nightly program, with
opening simulcast segment falling aside in favor of a totally different opening
Channel 23. Culliton said the change to an almost entirely unique program for
was made because research showed that the first segment on KLGT did poorly as a
simulcast. They quickly decided to do a totally different program to give
people a reason
to go there right away, and to experiment to see what might hold the audience.
segment that was simulcast for most of the life of "News of Your Choice" ended
the final closing story.
It was a short-lived experiment, however. For the first real ratings test of
program in February 1995, WCCO won the ratings battle at 10:00 only if they
1 extra rating point that the KLGT newscast added to their total. Without that
WCCO fell to second place at 10 o'clock for the first time since 1993, trailing
11 by .2 ratings point. And they still trailed by a wide margin with the
and 25-54 age groups. By the May sweeps, the numbers were even more ominous.
the KLGT audience now added almost 2 ratings points to WCCO's numbers, they
KARE by .6 rating point when measured on their own. By the time of the November
sweeps, the slide in WCCO's ratings was precipitous, and WCCO managers decided
pull the plug on "News of Your Choice" starting in January 1996. Culliton
WCCO never really had a good measure of the promise of the idea because CBS
lead-in programming had some of the worst ratings in its history, and there was
no way to
know how the "News of Your Choice" program might have done in a better overall
environment (Culliton, 1996). Nonetheless, the experiment provided a chance for
researchers to examine how a news station designed a newscast around the idea of
"interactivity," how the extra time from an additional 35-minute block of
allocated, and whether this innovative idea enhanced the "quality" of the local
news market in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Local television news has been the subject of considerable research in the past
years. Studies generally fall into several, distinct categories. A number of
have examined the degree of news story duplication among different news programs
market. Atwater (1984; 1986) found that stations in larger television markets
more unique stories, and that human interest and features stories are a source
differentiation among stations. Davie and Lee (1993) found that technological
developments such as the use of local satellite news gathering (SNG) equipment
to contribute to the diversity of local news items, while network SNG and local
contributed to local news story duplication.
Another group of studies has examined local television news content on a
of dimensions of "quality" such as public affairs versus sensationalism,
coverage of local
versus outlying communities in a station market, overall newscast time
other measures. Early studies found the bulk of local television newshole
public affairs or "hard news" categories (Adams, 1978, 1980; Dominick, Wurtzel &
Lometti, 1975; Hoffstetter & Dozier, 1986; Wulfemeyer, 1982a, 1982b). Ryu
found that sensationalism and human interest categories serve as reserves to
ratings in the absence of public affairs stories of greater significance. Later
to document a trend towards more sensationalism and human interest content, at
expense of public affairs or "hard news" (Klite, 1995; Orfield, 1996; Slattery &
1994; Slattery, Hakanen & Doremus, 1996). These research findings were echoed
trade press laments about the slipping quality of local television news ("Bad
Another set of studies has examined the economic characteristics affecting
television news. Harmon (1989) found that market size did not differentiate
television newscasts on dimensions such as story treatment, generation of news
use of deadline versus non-deadline content, and other measures. However,
Lacy, Cassara and Lau (1990) did find that large market stations devoted less
local news than did small-market stations, with large-market stations
coverage by allocating more resources to non-local stories. Their study of
newscasts in Michigan and Oregon showed that the stations with longer newscasts
devoted the extra time primarily to non-local coverage. They speculated that
explanation was that stations that expand their newscast length do not increase
enough to fill the space with an equivalent amount of local news. In another
study, McManus (1992) reminded us that news programmers are not competing in a
market but in a public attention market (p. 790), and that broadcasters are
better off with
more generalizable stories--consumer-oriented features and human interest pieces
arouse emotional response--because there is a risk in dwelling on content that
to a small segment of the audience (p. 801).
Trade press accounts have detailed trends in local television news innovation
market conditions. A number of stations have introduced format changes,
with cooperative arrangements with local cable stations, been involved in
interactive tests, and generally sought ways to solidify their slipping grasp on
attention in a multi-channel environment (Holley, 1996; Katz, 1992; Meyer, 1992;
Standish, 1995). Murrie (1994) sounded a warning bell about the lure of
pointing out that television is essentially a passive medium and that viewers
want to interact with their sets. Papper, Gerhard and Sharma (1996) reported
1995 (the year that this research study examines), 49 percent of all U.S.
added news time to their schedules. Stations added an average of three and a
per week. The most popular place to add was weekday morning, followed by
early evening, weekday middle, weekday night and weekend morning (p. 22).
A number of studies deal with how people use television news, what they learn
from it, or how they judge the quality of what they see. Moore (1995) reports
Americans say local television news is their most important source of
However, Robinson and Levy (1996) caution that television news viewing is a weak
predictor of long-term information gain, and that newspapers remain America's
source of public affairs information. Goodwin (1996) argues that local news is
viewers to find (compared to the easy availability of national and international
news from sources such as CNN), and that the only subjects that consistently
viewers are those of personal and immediate impact, so local television news
should compete in the broader media marketplace by reporting more local news.
(1992) found that the most important items to viewers in a local newscast were
news and weather segments, and that heavier local news viewers also watched more
network news to obtain national and world events coverage, thereby making them
more concerned about local, regional and weather coverage from their local
Finally, a Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (1996) study about
future of the news audience found that three-quarters of the survey's
respondents say they
regularly watch local television news, and that two-thirds say that news about
community or town is the most important information they seek, followed by news
state or part of their state. In a portion of the study that is particularly
important for this
research project, the RTNDF study found that 41 percent of respondents said they
definitely be interested in a newscast that provided an index of available
stories so they
could design their own program to watch (but this also generated the second
interested" response). Sixty-four percent in the RTNDF study said they would
be interested in being able to skip past a TV story they didn't like. When
they'd like to skip past, the difficulty in satisfying a mass audience became
and women, younger and older viewers all had quite different preferences. The
study concluded that, "The figures point to why news of the future may evolve to
multiple programs with different orientations on multiple bands." (p. 14)
In addition to the studies that have examined television news content and
audiences, the findings from another set of studies are relevant for this
Evidence generated over the past 25 years indicates that news source diversity
U.S. media content is constrained. Scholars have consistently found that daily
relies mainly on official government sources. Whether the medium is print
Bybee, Wearden & Straughan, 1987; Ericson, Baranek & Chan, 1989; Fishman, 1980;
Gandy, 1982; Lacy & Matusik, 1983; Sigal, 1973; Soloski, 1989) or broadcast
1978; Berkowitz, 1987; Hackett, 1985; Harmon, 1989; Whitney, Fritzler, Jones,
Mazzarella & Rakow, 1989), official sources are favored by reporters because
provide regular, credible (to reporters) information. This reliance on official
been decried for its detrimental effect on diversity of sources and viewpoints
in the news.
When news content is heavily ladened with official government statements,
interviews and government statistics and documents, the perspectives and views
affiliated sources (e.g. labor, education, business, public interest groups) are
Unaffiliated sources (average citizens) have even less access for their
concerns. This line of normative research leads to a question about whether
newshole in this experiment with an interactive broadcast provided an
expand the range of sources in the news.
Based on the findings from Atwater (1984;1986), and McManus (1992) that the
way that stations differentiate their content is with human interest material,
H1: Channel 23 (KLGT-TV) will have a larger proportion of human interest
stories than Channel 4 (WCCO-TV) or Channel 5 (KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate used
the "control" for this study).
Based on the findings from Bernstein, Lacy, Cassara and Lau (1990) that large
market stations with additional newshole provide more non-local stories and more
from sources outside the station's own resources, we hypothesized that
H2: Channel 23 will have a larger proportion non-local stories than Channel 4
Channel 5; and
H3: Channel 23 stories will have a lower story treatment index score than will
Channel 4 or Channel 5.
Based on the findings from all of the studies regarding the use of official
we hypothesized that
H4: All three channels will rely most heavily on people and documents from
Based on the findings from all of the studies regarding the proportion of local
television news devoted to public affairs topics versus sensationalism or human
we hypothesized that
H5: A larger proportion of news stories on all three stations will be devoted
human interest or sensationalism topics than to public affairs topics.
The second research question for this study (how did this large-market station
design its newscasts to take advantage of the innovation of "choice" and
will be addressed through descriptive statistics and reference to the interview
This study analyzed the 10:00 p.m. newscasts of three local stations in the
Cities market during the fall of 1995. The "News of Your Choice" experiment
shared newscast between the CBS-owned and -operated affiliate station WCCO-TV/4
the WB-affiliate UHF station KLGT-TV/23. The ABC-affiliate station KSTP-TV/5
newscast was used as the "control" for comparisons. All newscasts were 35
length. Newcasts from seven non-consecutive weekdays were taped in their
Each newscast was analyzed to determine the amount of time devoted to news,
weather, banter, cross- and self-indexing, ads, and miscellaneous material.
segment was further analyzed story-by-story. A total of 421 news stories was
Each story was analyzed using a combination of coding schemes from previous
studies. Basic information regarding day, date, time, channel, story number
newscast, and sex, race, number and name of anchors/reporters were coded. In
the story "treatment" was coded. Story treatment information included: anchor
stories done as "readers", chroma key graphics, tape only, tape with interview,
live stand-ups, reporter package with voice over, reporter package with
reporter in the studio or source in the studio. Many stories included more than
these elements. These elements were later combined to reflect a "story
for each story.
Stories were also coded for duplication with other channels, system source ,
scope , story category , embedded sensationalism (Slattery & Hakanen, 1994),
information (Lemert, Mitzman, Seither, Cook & Hackett, 1977), deadline or non
characteristics. All sources (people or attributed documents) mentioned or
tape were also coded for their affiliation.
The first author was responsible for coding all broadcasts. The second author
provided an intercoder reliability check on a subsample of the newscasts, with
intercoder reliability coefficient of .86 for all non-objective elements of each
(everything except date, day, time, channel, names of anchors and reporters,
duplication of stories).
Upon completion of the content analysis, the first author conducted an
with the station general manager responsible for the experiment. He was asked
information about the financing and purpose of the experiment, his insight into
some of the
content analysis results, and his perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of
process and outcome of the stations' experimentation.
The results will be reported in four categories: content findings, story
findings, source findings, and overall newscast findings.
Content The content on Channel 23 was different from the other newscasts in some
interesting ways. Channel 23 averaged 24 news stories per newscast; the
newscast on Channel 4 averaged 16 stories; the "control" Channel 5 newscast
stories. The mean story length on Channel 23 was, obviously, shorter (42.8
compared to Channel 5 (48.6 seconds) and Channel 4 (58.1 seconds). The process
story coding lent some insight into this finding: Channel 23 provided almost no
than 2 minutes) stories, while the other two stations had at least one long
segment in each
newscast. The "Discovery" segment on Channel 23, which always ran opposite the
documentary "Dimension" segment on Channel 4, was usually filled with briefs
medical discoveries, health advice, or short human interest pieces.
TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE
Table 1 summarizes the major content characteristics of the news stories in
newscast. The Channel 23 newscast was primarily comprised of material generated
network SNG sources, with geographical scope somewhere else in the U.S. or
U.S. The story categories on Channel 23 were two-thirds sensationalism or human
interest. In other words, the extra time that the Channel 23 newscast provided
with stories about events and people from outside the Twin Cities and outside
and those stories were not focused on public affairs topics. The major source
stories was the network feeds from CBS and CNN, which meant that there were very
local station resources expended in generating the content. Local stories were
absent on Channel 23, even though the newscast producers had access to all of
materials generated by the Channel 4 staff for early and late newscasts.
The material that did run on Channel 23 was not widely duplicated on the other
channels. Their unique stories tended to be on human interest topics, from
the U.S., and from network SNG feeds. This is unlike the findings from the
Lee study, in which network SNG contributed to story duplication. The
unique stories on Channel 23 that fell into the "human interest", "around the
"network SNG" categories was higher in each case than the comparable proportion
unique stories in those categories on Channels 4 and 5.
Lemert et al. (1977) define mobilizing information as information in media
which allows people to act on attitudes which they already might have. Examples
recipes, garden tips, and public affairs information such as time and place for
a meeting or
rally, and explicit or implicit behavioral models (e.g., "here is how you can
state representative to express your views"). There was very little mobilizing
of any sort provided in the news stories on these three stations, but the
stories with mobilizing information was lower on Channel 23 (0.6 percent) than
proportion for Channel 5 (3.4 percent) or Channel 4 (3.7 percent). This is
probably due to
the heavy use of non-local, non self-generated content on Channel 23.
In summary, the extra time on Channel 23 was used to provide more human
interest material, with a broader geographical scope--stories you would not see
channels--rather than for stories about public affairs coverage of the local
local human interest material. Hypotheses H1 and H2 are supported by these
Story treatment Channel 23's story treatment index figure was statistically
than the story treatment index figure for both Channel 4 and Channel 5 at the p
level. The stories for the Channel 23 newscast came primarily from network
feeds, so the
overall newscast didn't seem that under-produced. However, most of those
tape only, tape with interviews, or reporter packages with voiceover. The
Culliton gives insight into this difference. He admitted that the Channel 23
were able to do a second newscast on the cheap, but it didn't seem that way to
uncritical viewer because the newscast still had all of the typical elements of
broadcast. The difference was that none of those elements were locally
suggested by the Bernstein et al. study (1990). Hypothesis H3 is supported by
Sources The use of people sources or documents was minimal by all stations. The
mean number of people sources used in a story was .58 across all three stations,
mean number of document sources used in a story was .07. Most people sources,
there were any at all, were local government officials, affiliated U.S. sources,
unaffiliated sources (person-on-the-street interviews). The affiliated U.S.
often connected with organizations/businesses/charities that had been victimized
or were involved in some kind of philanthropy. Channel 23 used the fewest
sources in their newscasts, and the second fewest number of documents, but these
not significantly different figures from the other newscasts because the overall
were so small. Hypothesis H4 is supported, but the findings are irrelevant
overall number of people and documents used in a story was miniscule.
TABLE 2 ABOUT HERE
Overall newscast characteristics Table 2 summarizes the overall newscast
characteristics for the three channels. Channel 23 used the extra time taken
and sports to add advertising, news, and self-indexing segments. Channel 4
longer weather and sports segments, perhaps because they were consciously or
unconsciously acknowledging there was a larger overall newshole counting the
Channel 23. Because they were giving people more choices across the two
had unusual newscasts on each station by itself. It appears that the producers
Channel 4 and Channel 23 newscasts actually did redesign the nature of the
station newscasts because of the combination of the two.
While is was not the intention of this study, the findings also provide some
about the overall 10 o'clock news market in the Twin Cities. For the 421 total
this sample, 61 percent of the topics were sensationalism or human interest; 39
were hard news (govt. and non-govt.) and 0 percent were discussion of public
This is consistent with the Rocky Mountain Media Watch mayhem study (Klite,
which it is charged that local television news consists of mayhem and fluff. In
seventy-one percent of material pulled from network SNG across all stations was
sensationalism or human interest; 59 percent of local ENG material was
human interest. Sixty-eight percent of the stories from outside the U.S. were
sensationalism or human interest, which is a continuation of the idea that
news is primarily about disasters or "cute" foreign customs and practices.
This study provides some insight into how the local television news scene in
Twin Cities was affected by an experiment with a shared, "interactive" newscast
"News of Your Choice." When provided with an opportunity to design a newscast
additional 35-minute time period at 10 o'clock, the producers made a number of
of their own. As suggested in the Bernstein et al. study, when faced with an
newshole, the producers in this experiment did not increase their staff to fill
time with an equivalent amount of local news. Instead, they opted for a "rip
model, pulling material from network feeds and providing lots of "feel good"
Culliton said that from an execution standpoint, the experiment was a success,
that the interactive part of the experiment was intimidating for people. They
audience wanted interactivity, and that is why they so heavily promoted the
and provided a great deal of cross-indexing to the content on each station.
managers knew that their 10 o'clock newscast had a poor showing with younger,
attractive (to advertisers) viewers. Part of their intention in designing this
experiment was to attract those viewers. Findings from other research, had it
available when they were designing their strategy, might have given them pause.
RTNDF study found that those most likely to be interested in an interactive
news were the young and very news-sophisticated (pp. 10-14). These heavy news
consumers would NOT have been likely to be attracted to the type of human
local content that was featured on Channel 23, nor were they numerous among
4's audience at the time of the experiment.
In addition, Channel 4 managers launched another "interactive" venture around
same time as the "News of Your Choice" experiment. An early precursor to their
successful "Channel 4000" web site, the "Interact 4" computer service provided
categories of information, and opportunities for computer users to send messages
producers and view video images. This was to eventually become the true
medium the television news producers were looking for. We could speculate that
launch of this interactive service in the summer of 1994, at the same time as
the "News of
Your Choice" experiments, drew off those viewers who were most likely to be
in designing their own newscast. These active news consumers had an alternative
Channel 4-Channel 23 "choice."
Murrie's (1994) warning that television is an essentially passive medium (p.
may have been borne out here. Other research has found that media use is
habitual, and semi-attentive, leading to skepticism about the lure of
1991). The "News of Your Choice" experiment may have been working at cross
with the audience's preferred use of the television. Even though 64 percent of
respondents in the RTNDF study said they would be interested in being able to
skip past a
television story they didn't like, the attendant requirement that they actively
switch to something else on another station may have been asking too much.
The "News of Your Choice" experiment provided news producers with an
opportunity to break the mold of traditional local television newscasts. The
focus on "soft" news, short sports and weather segments, and almost no local
reflected the news producers' judgments about what might interest viewers who
want to watch a traditional newscast. Culliton said he thought the Channel 23
relied too much on satellite feed material, and he tried to encourage them to
material from the earlier newscasts on Channel 4. He thought the Channel 23
should not assume that the 10 o'clock audience had seen the earlier Channel 4
and that they should not fear re-using some of the local stories because
showed that the audience liked local content. But Channel 23 producers wanted
provide more national and international material, and when there were breaking
such as the Kobe earthquake, the expanded newshole on Channel 23 allowed for
depth coverage than would have been possible in a single local newscast.
Despite the increased newshole, television news producers did not change the
definition of who makes news. Very few sources or documents of any kind were
stories on any of the stations, and the same "official" sources as in previous
dominated when any sources were used. Also, the increased newshole was not used
increase coverage of the local community or the wider local market (suburbs,
communities). Once again, the RTNDF study provides insight into how important a
this may have been in the outcome of the "News of Your Choice" experiment.
of the respondents in that study said that when they watch local television
news, the most
important information they seek is news about their community or town (pp. 7-8).
Channel 23 newshole had been used to provide a truly unique mix of local and
stories, rather than retread national and international material from CBS and
may have been an audience following that would have made the experiment
But that would have required a commitment of additional staff and resources to
that local material, a commitment that was not made.
This experiment has implications for the unfolding digital broadcast era that
now beginning to take shape. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and subsequent
decisions by the Federal Communications Commission will govern the allocation of
six additional channels to each broadcast license holder. At least one of these
frequencies is supposed to be used for delivery of high-definition television
signals, but the
other frequencies can be programmed with analog content or any other type of
broadcaster wishes to provide. What will broadcasters do with these additional
How will this additional spectrum space be used? The "News of Your Choice"
experiment leads a skeptical observer to believe that this windfall of
additional time and
space will not be programmed with local news and information content. Only if
broadcasters are willing to add staff and news-gathering resources will they be
truly differentiate themselves by providing niche, locally-designed and
generated news and
public affairs content.
As in previous studies, this study lends evidence that local television news
continues to "morph" into entertainment and emotional response stimulation.
with Ryu (1982), this study found that human interest and sensationalism content
used as a reserve to maintain (or garner) higher ratings, confirming his
local news was becoming a form of entertainment. Critics' complaints about the
focus on fluff and mayhem at the expense of public affairs coverage of
were confirmed, even in a market that gained 35 additional minutes of local
The "News of Your Choice" experiment added national and international human
stories, but did not expand the coverage of local or regional issues. Mark Levy
nearly 20 years ago that "most people who watch TV news are generally not all
caught up in news, but they are interested in news which explains and amplifies
events, issues and personalities that have or could have an impact on their own
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News Story Characteristics
Channel 4 Channel 5 Channel 23
N= 109 145 167
Avg. number of news items/newscast 16 21 24
Govt., Politics, Education 20.2 % 24.8 %* 12.6 %
Nongovt. hard news 19.3 18.6 21.0
Sensationalism 39.4 35.9 31.1
Human interest 21.1 20.0* 35.3
Local 60.6* 53.1* 15.6
Elsewhere in state 2.8 7.6 6.0
Washington, D.C. 8.3 5.5 4.8
Elsewhere in U.S. 22.9* 20.7* 53.3
Outside U.S. 5.5* 13.1 20.4
Network SNG 21.1* 31.0* 61.7
Studio story 22.9* 15.9 9.6
ENG 55.0* 51.0* 19.8
Station SNG 0.0 0.7 3.0
VNR 0.9 1.4 6.0
Mobilizing information 3.7 3.4 0.6
* = statistically significant difference with Channel 23 at p < .01 level using
the t-test for
the difference between proportions.
Average time in seconds per newscast
Percent of total time in newscast
Channel 4 Channel 5 Channel 23
Misc 15 sec. 23 sec. 16 sec.
1 % 1 % 1 %
Self-indexing 46 75 120
2 4 6
Cross-indexing 40 0 27
2 0 1
Banter 63 36 10
3 2 1
Ads 615 579 641
29 28 31
Weather 198 186 91
9 9 4
Sports 233 180 170
11 9 8
News 905 1007 1020
43 48 49
KLGT became a WB affiliate in January 1995, at the same time that "News of Your
launched as a regular nightly program.
Media reports at the time said that WCCO paid a 'couple hundred thousand a
year' for the leased time
and for additional news material, mostly from CBS and CNN. The general manager
at KLGT said that
the "rent" paid by WCCO more than compensated for the loss of ad revenue from
the programs that had
previously run on Channel 23 at 10:00. See the New York Times, January 16,
1995, p. C6 for details.
Internal station research indicated that four of five people switched during a
typical late newscast, and
those four switched an average of five times during one 35-minute broadcast.
The story treatment index was computed by assigning a value from 1-3 to the
various types of story
preparation and presentation methods and then adding those values for each
story. A value of 1 was
assigned to anchor intros, readers, chroma key graphics, tape only, and tape
with sound; a value of 2 was
assigned to reporter live stand-ups, reporter packages with voice-over, and
reporter in the studio; a value
of 3 was assigned to reporter packages with interviews and source in the studio.
"System source" categories were taken from Davie & Lee (1993) and were defined
as the technical
categories providing the video origination and distribution of the story (p.
458). These were: network
SNG (satellite newsgathering), studio story (no video), ENG (electronic
newsgathering), station SNG, and
one category not included in Davie & Lee but added here, VNR (video news
"Story scope" refers to the geographical scope of the news story. These were:
local; somewhere else in
the state; Washington, D.C.; somewhere else in the U.S.; and outside the U.S.
"Story category" refers to the topic of the news story. These were:
government, politics or education
news; non-government hard news (business, medicine, etc.); sensationalism
(crime, violence, disaster,
accidents); and human interest. Another category, discussion of public policy
issues, was created but
proved unnecessary since there wasn't a single example of a story that provided
an in-depth discussion of
a public policy issue in the sample.
The list of affiliations was taken from Sigal (1973) and Brown, Bybee, Wearden
& Straughan (1987).
They include: U.S. government, state government, local government, foreign
government, affiliated U.S. ,
non-affiliated U.S., or foreign non-government
"News of Your Choice" Experiment--24
The "News of Your Choice" Experiment in the Twin Cities:
What Kind of Choice Did Viewers Get?
Kathleen A. Hansen, Associate Professor
University of Minnesota
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
111 Murphy Hall, 206 Church St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: (612) 625-3480
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Department of Communication Arts
3333 Regis Blvd.
Denver, CO 80221
Phone: (303) 458-4329
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
The "News of Your Choice" Experiment in the Twin Cities:
What Kind of Choice Did Viewers Get?
"News of Your Choice" was a collaboration between CBS-owned WCCO-TV/4
and KLGT-TV/23, a then-independent UHF station. This paper examines the "News of
Your Choice" experiment and asks what the Channel 23 newscast added to the local
television news market, and how Channel 4 designed its newscasts to take
the innovation of "choice" and "interactivity. The study uses a content
analysis of news
broadcasts and an interview with WCCO's then-general manager, and reports on
story treatment, source use and overall newscast characteristics. The study
finds that the
extra time provided by the Channel 23 newscast was primarily filled with
network SNG sources and human interest stories from outside the local geographic