Left Coast Bias: Take These For What They're Worth

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If you have read this column for a while, you know my pet peeve as a former communications executive is that journalists frequently sit around and pick apart everyone's business or creative ideas, without coming up with any solutions.

So every few months, I like to throw out a few random ideas of my own. Some in the past have actually come to fruition, while others have earned emails from readers wondering who my pharmacist is.

Like Yankees' slugger Alex Rodriguez in a playoff game, I may be zero-for-three here. But I promise you I'll never be afraid to step up to the plate and swing away, and take a steroids test right afterwards.

CNN Should Think Local

Look out local newspapers and TV stations: here come the national brands. ESPN is already invading multiple cities and many others are following.

But if there is one brand that should be all over the local business play, it is CNN. It has the brand equity to start making inroads in markets and take advantage of the challenges at the traditional local outlets.

I'm not saying CNN should start local news networks; rather, execs should begin like ESPN has, with local Web sites, and build from there.

I ran this idea by CNN chief Jon Klein recently, and he didn't shoot it down.

“As we look for places to grow, that is one place that could make sense one day,” he acknowledged.

A New Graphic for Football Coverage

I am on the record as absolutely despising all the on-screen graphics that clutter my screen while I watch sports, but there is one addition that I think could help both announcers and viewers immediately.

In football, when an offense lines up before the snap, I'd like to see networks bring up—in small letters, right above or below every running back, tight end and wide receiver—the player's last name. Yes, just like in a video game. And then, when the ball is snapped, lose the graphic.

It's a great way for viewers—especially more casual ones—to know who is in the game and where. Unless you know the body type of every player that lines up, you can't see their face or their jersey number the way football is shot from the sidelines.

And just as importantly, you'd be shocked how many announcers misidentify players. Hopefully a glance at their monitors with the names on screen would help them as much as us.

TMZ, The Reality Show

Over a recent lunch, someone asked me what I would do with the TMZ brand at this point. While I didn't have an answer at the time, I do now. Yes: I am about to pitch a reality show.

On a TMZ reality show, a group of people would compete to become a producer or cameraman. Each week, contestants would get assignments to stalk certain celebs or cover events, with contestants whittled down elimination-style. This could do for the brand what Ultimate Fighter has done for UFC—make it more mainstream but let it keep its cool factor.

And doing the show in real time each week (seems like an E! show, but corporate synergy could put it on CW) would allow for audience participation. They could use social networking sites like Twitter to let fans play along, by tipping off the contestants where and how Lindsay Lohan will make her next great career move, or even try to out-stalk the wannabe stalkers. Go to it, Harvey.

E-mail comments to
ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com

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