Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Talking shop

The 19 minutes staff is up with the birds and the earthworms and the 15-month olds today, wrapping up a draft of a story we’re working on about the QVC network’s impact on entrepreneurship.

It’s actually been a nice story to cover on several levels – it was a relatively rare opportunity to interview some really articulate people; and it again reinforces the notion that the stories that come together well are the ones that address the questions that – as a reporter – I’m interested in the answers to. (Such as, “Could that last sentence be constructed any worse?”)

In this case, it addresses the question that comes to mind whenever I surf through Channel 51 on my local cable system: Why - in a time when just about anyone can set up a store on the internet, and when most people have ready access to Target, Wal-Mart, and shopping malls - are entrepreneurs clamoring to sell their products on TV? And why do consumers buy so much on TV when they have access to these other outlets? (I mean, QVC took 192 million phone calls last year.) My story should be out in the next few days, and hopefully will answer those questions. If nothing else, it'll have entertaining sound.

The other interesting aspect to covering this story was hearing the degree of reverence that many in the business community (or at least the business school community) hold the cable network. Cable shopping tends to take a fair number of hits from other parts of the popular media – the somewhat condescending portrayal of a British shopping channel in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and a dismissive blurb in the “Complete Directory of Primetime TV Shows” come immediately to mind.

But the various business school experts I spoke to talk about QVC from a different perspective – speaking in terms of building trust among its customers and its ability to find entrepreneurs who are developing products that will connect with viewers. Their opinions, of course, but it was informative to discuss television and shopping habits in an academic sense.

As I’ve noted before, as a long-time broadcast journalist, the most impressive feat I see on QVC is the ability of its hosts to speak, unscripted, about digital cameras, followed by perfume, followed by scrapbooking supplies -- for three or four hours.

My story is slated to run about three minutes and 45 seconds. And very much scripted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're impressed with the QVC hosts? Try doing wrestling reports/feeder cattle advertisements that last at least that long...