Breaking Down the 4th Wall

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

Trying different ways to give viewers a backstage pass to the news.

Do you tweet?

A couple months ago, I would've said yes... when I sing "Rockin Robin."  Then I would've laughed and said no, and I don't think I ever will, because Twitter is dumb.  Well, it's two months later and I'm tweeting on Twitter.  But I still think it's dumb.  It's just a bunch of random thoughts with no cohesion.  It's like reading one line off every page of a novel.  It's like reading the Cliff's Notes version of the Cliff's Notes.  For Facebookers, it's just a bunch of status updates.

But we're doing it for News 10 at 11.  I'm starting to see the benefit though.  I've always thought it's very interesting to viewers to know what's going on behind the camera, during commercials, and in the newsroom during the day and before the show.  I think people want to go behind the scenes.  Twitter offers that opportunity as I can leave quick updates about stories, things happening in studio and what Tim and Andy are up to.  They will give me tweets too, as will our producer Jeff.  So far, the response has been good.  Close to 100 people have signed up to follow us on Twitter and a husband and wife told me recently they love it.  It's nice to get a tidbit of info you don't get on the air.  It's almost like having a VIP pass-- you get a little more than the folks just watching on TV.  There is never a commercial break for these folks, because I'm always dropping a note about something going on.

It has it's trial and error.  The other night I was trying to think of a way to tease people to the twitter site and joked that you'll find out why Tim is a little miffed.  He wasn't miffed until I said he might be miffed and he was right, that was dumb.  So, I'm still trying to find my way with this thing.

Now there's more.  "WILX - News 10at 11" now exists as a Facebook page.  You can go become a fan and see pictures and other comments and discussions there on a slightly bigger scale than on Twitter.  The problem with that is it took me like 3 tries to get the page set up, leaving me feeling like an idiot.  I think it's finally ready to go.

I'm having a good time though, because it's real-time and I can do it from my BlackBerry-- even pictures.  Plus, it breaks down the 4th wall for the viewers.  That's a phrase I learned when Staudt started talking to our director on air once.  I'm really not sure what the first 3 walls are, but apparently the 4th wall is the one separating the studio and studio control.  But, I like giving viewers a lens into the studio from home.  Anchors and reporters have always been pretty guarded on air-- and sometimes off-- and I think it would make the news more fun to watch if it was interactive.

The other problem is neither are very cool anymore.  CNN today pimped its Twitter and Facebook pages and I thought it was pretty weak coming from anchors who probably don't have a clue about it.  So, the whole underground grass roots thing has lost its luster, but it's fun and I'm hanging on to it for awhile and I hope you guys like it.

You can check them out at and search "WILX - News 10 at 11." 

Read More Blogs

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability
Gray Television, Inc.