ABC recently announced they are dedicating staff to create original-content webcasts in an attempt to reach out to younger audiences. They are simply calling these webcasts: World News.
I think this could be a very smart (albeit very late) move for ABC. About 5 1/2 years ago I attended an event where Scot Saffon, EVP of Marketing for CNN was speaking. Scot said then that college students did not even think about CNN as broadcast television; they associated the brand solely with the Internet. Because of this, Scot announced that CNN would cease charging $ to watch vids online and would start creating original programing for the web; one of the best decisions CNN had made in years. So, frankly, it’s about time the network news caught on.
I have such mixed feelings about this. While I recognize that anyone wanting to reach a younger audience should absolutely appear on SNL — the part of me that adores journalistic integrity shudders. I mean, could you actually imagine Tom Brokaw hosting SNL?
John Friedman said it best in his Media Web blog: “Skeptics may wonder what’s next. Will CBS’ Katie Couric try to goose her flagging ratings by cracking a case on an episode of “C.S.I.”? Perhaps ABC’s Charles Gibson will defend his No. 1 rating by making a cameo on “Desperate Housewives.” Couldn’t you picture him popping up in a scene playing an ever-reliable corner druggist named Fred?”
BUT, Brian Williams is young, handsome (no AndersonCooper, but not bad) and if he is funny … really funny and personable, it could pay off. Williams has already appeared a few times on The Daily Show as a guest (and countless times as The Giant Head of Brian Williams.) I thought he was terribly stiff in his appearances, but nonetheless, smart and clearly willing to laugh at himself. So, I think he has a great shot in making this appearance work.
And who knows…given today’s merging of entertainment fluff and hard news, pop culture and world events, government affairs and, well … government affairs — maybe even Cronkite would have embraced SNL if he thought it might get America’s youth more interested in current events beyond Brittney’s latest pantyless prancing.