Years ago, when social media had not yet reached its level of dominance, I was not too excited about these new platforms being proposed. I am sure many shared my feelings at that time. However, many people from the younger generations, who are world wide web savvy, found social media to be a new platform with great potential. The release of smartphones supported social media’s growth even further, culminating in the term “new media”.
New media, comprised of and led by social media, has now become part of my life. I cannot stop checking my Facebook newsfeed, the new trends on Twitter, and updates on LinkedIn throughout the day.
This has become an addiction that extends beyond social media platforms; one that I never thought would take hold of me.
Whoever created this concept of social media and its platforms did not create a product or a thing—they created a need, a habit, something that we have become addicted to with time. It is easy. It is in your hand and it is cool. It allows you to participate in everything, have your say and be part of a debate, any debate you want and when you want. It is your choice at whatever time you choose. There is no schedule or grid, like TV channels, and you will not miss anything.
Unfortunately, TV news channels, on the other hand, cannot give us the same benefits and instant rewards as social media. More users are signing up to social media, which means more audiences are turning their backs on TV and news channels. This has resulted in more advertisers’ money being redirected away from TV.
Alarms start ringing. Televised news channels realise that they have to do something. They did not try to compete with social media, but instead they started to follow it and tried to use and adapt to what social media offers. This is, in my opinion, the beginning of the end of televised news channels.
Now, most TV news channels have millions of followers across all social media platforms. It is a good thing, but unfortunately it is not at all helping. The more followers you have on social media means more people are shifting away from TV. So what is the solution? Are we witnessing the last days of TV news channels in the way we used to incorporate them into our lives and information flow?
In my personal opinion, I do not think that televised news channels will die. But it will not be the same if they want to survive and return to the glory days. They have to accept change and make a fundamental transformation if they want to survive. They need to understand that the habit, the mentality, and requirements of consumers have been changed and they cannot keep doing the same production of news anymore. I believe now is the time for TV news channels to change their strategy, investment, the way of editing the news, the language of the news, and, most importantly, how to present and show the news. Now is the time to start thinking of how to create a need for TV news channels among audience members.
A need means that TV channels must stop being a follower and return back to the role of leader. They must reinvent the way the news is told.
In order to start the process of change, we need to first understand and correct some concepts that most people working in this field do not think about, or maybe they just take them for granted. These are concepts that were already established long ago, although no one has revisited or revised them. Here, I am mainly talking about channel branding and what it means for TV news channels, and how channel branding can and will play a major role in the process of change.
The technology being used in TV news channels is very advanced nowadays compared to the previous decade. Updating our understanding and methodology in this new era will help create a news platform, which appeals to all audiences. This can be achieved by channel branding, and reinventing the presentation of the news by fully utilising the technology currently available.
To do this, we need to seek change in the way we brand TV news channels. Before we discuss what needs to be changed or how, we need to explain what news branding means. This will be the topic of my forthcoming article.
Nebras Hameed is the head of creative services at AlArab News Channel. He is an award winning creative/art director with over 20 years of experience working in the TV and broadcasting industry.