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What’s in a Newscast Name?

KYW, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, is among the latest local newscast to undergo a shakeup of sorts. It’s more than just a name change but we can look at that for starters. The Eyewitness News brand has been cast aside in favor of CBS News Philadelphia.

I like it fine.

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Argue at your leisure, but I have always considered news in its purest form to be a service. A service for the public, the community, and the masses in general. Some of those words and thoughts may not sit right with people who tend to read into things so let’s leave them be.

I grew up in the greater New York City area, so we also had an Eyewitness News to call our own. A different network and a different channel so when I first learned that Philly had a version, I momentarily wondered which came first. And then, I no longer cared. The fact was, there were and are versions of Eyewitness News all over the country, and I still don’t care.

People do not watch for the name, in fact, they may or may not like the anchors, the meteorologist, the traffic reporter, (being in-studio does not automatically make you a traffic anchor, by the way) or the reporters for that matter.

Ask most viewers of a regular channel why they watch, and they will likely say, “They tell us what’s happening” or “They’re all saying the same thing anyway.” There is often a third response, but it usually has something to do with whatever time Wheel of Fortune comes on.

The name of the newscast really means next to nothing unless it does not tell you where or what it is and what time it is on. Right now, there are so many newscasts during an average day that it’s hard to tell the difference unless you tag on the time at the end.

NBC New York or News 4 NY. KIRO 7 or Local 10.

Each of those gives a bit of pertinent information without producing a stage name for the newscast.

It’s the news, it’s not a sitcom or a Broadway show. So, just tell us what it is and when and where to find it, and the audience will take it from there.

The same goes for the network newscasts, they do a little better job of telling the television viewer what it is. CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight. That last one’s name might be a tad misleading at times, but you can’t have everything.

TV is not the only game player in all this. WCBS 880 in New York for instance has a daypart or two with show names associated with their respective anchors. The product and talent are not called into question at all, it’s all great stand-alone work without brands like Newsline or On the Record.

They are not wrong, they are unnecessary. And they even could go as far as being confusing for some audience members out there.


Because the cable news shows that are not actually news shows all have names like these, at least most of them do. And what legitimate newscast or anchor wants to be confused or associated with shows with names such as Special Report, The Situation Room, The Balance,or The Last Word?

The new CBS News Philadelphia is going well beyond the name change, with new reporting formats and fresh graphics among other alterations. Overhauls are common yet there is no reason to say, “everything old is new again.” A bit of streamlining here, some expansion there and off they go.

Change is good and clarity is even better.

It’s the news.                 

Bill Zito
Bill Zito
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.

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