“Reporting crime all the time is not a responsible or accurate reflection of life in our city and I am proud to work with a news team that wants to inform you, not scare you.” — Channel 24 anchor/managing editor Richard Ransom
Richard Ransom, who left his position at Memphis' top-rated WREG
, to join the news team at WATN Channel, 24 says he wants to break the cycle of "if it bleeds it leads" TV-journalism. In a brief but compelling interview with Smart City Memphis
, Ransom described lazy “crime all the time” coverage, as low-hanging fruit. "It also doesn’t reflect the city I know," he said. "It glorifies violence and can fuel racial stereotypes."
That all sounds good, and just about right, but can we expect real change?
"Based on our sample, WATN-24 (formerly WPTY) appears to have the highest percentage of mayhem in the Memphis market. In fact, among Memphis stations, Channel 24 seems to devote the least amount of time to news reporting." — Guns & Bunnies, a Memphis Flyer cover story from April, 2017.
Local Memphis 24 has little to lose with this experiment and everything gain. Judging by the results of a Memphis Flyer survey from earlier this year,
it was the station devoting the largest percentage of its time to crime reporting while producing the least amount of non-crime-related news content. It has also been a perennial cellar-dweller in the ratings game and any attempt to generate more relevant news programming would be a step in the right direction. A serious attempt to deemphasize crime in favor of useful news might even disrupt the local broadcast market.
Or it will prove once and for all that broadcast consumers prefer being entertained, enraged, and scared to being informed.