Goff and Howard Public Relations / Public Affairs Logo

Monday, December 6, 2010

The death of advertainment in Minnesota

Television news operations have long been looked at as a hybrid between journalism and entertainment. Happy talk between anchors, reporters standing outside in a hurricane to help us better “understand” the significance of a storm, and features full of gift, shopping and dining ideas are just a few examples.

From its call letters to the “focus” of stories within its newscasts, KARE-11 has been a leader in blurring the lines between news and entertainment. The station created a backyard for weather broadcasts, made desks of ice to cover the Winter Carnival, and got people to wave to the camera at the end each newscast.

Five years ago, KARE-11 pushed the journalism-entertainment envelope even farther when it launched “Showcase Minnesota,” a show that combined entertainment segments with paid advertising segments – advertainment.

When “Showcase Minnesota” was launched, KARE-11 general manager John Remes said, "This is an opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences in a way they haven't done before.”

Critics said it was “paid advertisements masquerading as programming” and that “guests will pay to be on the new show and the anchors will act like inquisitive hucksters.” Critics were concerned that audiences wouldn’t notice or care about the difference between real news and advertainment.

The age of advertainment may be over in Minnesota – KARE-11 announced last week that “KARE-11 Today” would replace “Showcase Minnesota” in January. KARE-11 has not said if the decision was based on a lack of interest from advertisers who wanted to “connect” with audiences in a new way or if it was based on other factors.

"It's a great opportunity to highlight our strong news teams at KARE-11," said Remes. "Whether its early mornings, midday, evenings, late news, or weekends, we are proud of the commitment of our journalists and their connections with our community."

For now, the thin wall between news and advertising has been restored, and advertisers will have to find another way to connect with audiences.