Don’t ask me how or why, but for some reason I ended up at the broadcast network end of the TV dial this morning. Toggling between David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos (whom my wife correctly asked “what did he do again that warrants him moderating one of these shows?”) a couple of things struck me that reminded me what a dinosaur these shows are in today’s media environment.
First, these shows better never plan on making the switch to HD. Anyone who has to see up close how much make up George Will is wearing or whether Arianna Huffington’s eyelashes are real, will certainly click off to another channel no matter how compelling the chit chat is about North Korea.
Second and most notable is the “fishbowl” feel that these shows have — especially in a digital media world that has rapidly moved to putting a premium on audience conversation. The old school method of having a moderator like George and David leading a discussion with analysts and experts is way too antiquated. Having Huffington on the Stephanopoulos panel seemed the most ironic. Here is a pundit who has arguably embraced the new medium via her Huffingtonpost.com blog platform, yet on George’s panel she appeared as 2-dimensional and archaic as Will and the other two stooges on the set.
How about this for a programming idea for these Sunday political shows.
While they are taping the show, run it live online. Suck in the Twitter feed — heck bring in the FriendFeed, Facebook Status feed and any other audience conversation that can be gleaned from the Web while the host and guests are actually talking on set. Then, during the actual taping, have the host dip in to the “conversation” and use the vibe coming from the audience chatter to steer the discussion a bit. Not entirely audience driven, but enough to make it feel like we’re not just watching the show as though we were waltzing through the Television & Radio wing of the Smithsonian Institute.
Now I might watch something like this — a show where George Will had to reply to what real people were saying about what he was saying about North Korea. Actually, on second thought, I’d probably just watch the thing online while it was being taped so that I could contribute to the conversation live. I’ve got better things to do than watch network television at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings!