Abrams: Enough With The Exclamation Points!

Tribune Co. Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams continues on his jihad against "fake and jive" in local TV news. He says he talked to a "voice guy" Tribune stations were using and was given the lowdown.

"The copy he receives is often horrible," Abrams writes. "He sent me a few samples and it was, well, horrible. WAY too much copy and everything has a "!". Imagine if there was an exclamation point next to every newspaper story. that would look kind of ridiculous. well, it SOUNDS ridiculous when we hype everything."

He also wants to eradicate "cheesy TV-ims."

we kill ourselves with cheesy TV-isms in promos. Lines like;
Right around the corner! (What corner?)
Hope you're enjoying the show (sure you do)
Don't forget to tune in Friday! (yeah---I'll send an Outlook invite)
We'll be right back (Duh)
Hey! Hope you're "digging" the show (Hey, look we're using street lingo)
Are best left to Onion TV. So, so insincere , fake and jive. They just need to tell it like it is without those silly tvisms that only contribute to insincere plastic tv. There are other less blatant BS ways to say things!

It's hard to disagree with Lee on these things. It also appears that Abrams started using a spell check, as he seems to have cleaned up the errors. Unfortunately, he failed to check the subject line on the email he sent out companywide -- and he misspelled insincerity as "insincerety." Ah, you can't win them all.

The entire piece follows (it jumps):


February 25, 2009



Check these out. They reflect exactly the kind of POWER that subtle and cerebral can deliver. Sure, it's a memorial thing, but the simplicity...the music and the overall attitude is intelligent, powerful and commanding. I really think these pieces represent the soul that TV CAN have, if we think this way. It oozes timeless, all demographic QUALITY.


Tim Dukes shared a discussion he had with a voice guy we had been using. I also spoke with him about a week ago. He's a nice guy and understands that we need to move on and reinvent TV, but three things came up:

*A big difference in copy he receives from our stations and say an HBO is that we try to jam 40 seconds of copy into a 30 and HBO has 5 seconds of copy in a 30 allowing them more 'space' for sound, audio signature etc...

*One of the reasons he doesn't well work for us is that we want to 'sound' like our cities and he has the classic anywhere USA voice. He doesn't sound like NYC, or Texas or New Orleans. BIG missed opportunity for ourselves if we take localism seriously. I recall as a kid driving from Chicago to Florida, you'd drive through Indy, Louisville, Nashville, Atlanta and Jacksonville--and every one of those cities had TV and radio that sounded LIKE the city...You make that same trip today and everything is generic anywhere USA. same "slogans"...same look...same V/O. And we wonder why media is so vanilla? It's completely self inflicted...and unless WE/YOU do something about it, we'll generic ourselves to irrelevancy. YOU have one big thing going--YOU SERVE A CITY. Time we sounded andlooked like that

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Bob Norman
Contact: Bob Norman