Charles Gibson was not exactly the most revolutionary choice as ABC’s evening news anchor. But he has a revolutionary idea to draw more young viewers to the 6:30 broadcast: Put on more ads for things young people buy.
""I’d rather have car ads," he tells Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "When you put on ads mostly for medicines, you’re saying ‘We want an older audience.’"
Uh, no offense, but Gibson does work in television, right? ABC News would rather have car ads too, in the same sense that I would rather see Donald Trump’s bank balance when I check my ATM slips. But it doesn’t quite work the way Gibson posits: You get the ads that advertisers are willing to purchase from you. When your audience is young, you get iPod ads. When your audience is, well, the network news’, you get Preparation H.
The irony is, Gibson’s promotion and his subsequent, meat-and-potatoes newscast were widely seen as a repudiation of CBS’s (and, earlier, ABC’s) strategy of trying to draw a younger audience with a nontraditional format and a younger anchor or anchors. Which is all fine–Gibson is an old-fashioned anchor and a damn good one, and he has every right to be proud of that. But: Dinosaurs in, dinosaurs out. You can’t just put on an old-school newscast and will yourself to a younger audience by getting younger ads. It’s like a failing football team wanting to win the Super Bowl and deciding, You know what? All the teams that win Super Bowls wear Super Bowl rings! If we want to win the Super Bowl, we should get some Super Bowl rings, too!
Here’s another idea: maybe if you want to get a younger audience for your newscast, you could start by not ash-canning a pregnant 43-year-old woman and replacing her with a man 20 years older. I’m just thinking out loud here.