April 27, 2006 — Rick Kaplan, president and general manager of MSNBC, NBC News’ 24-hour cable channel, discussed the network’s strategy for increasing ratings at the Shorenstein Center’s brown-bag lunch.
A journalist for over 30 years, Kaplan says content is the key: “If there’s news, people watch…. Just marking time with tabloid stories doesn’t get it done.”
While he does support running more popular stories—for example, last summer’s coverage of the famous “runaway bride” — Kaplan warns that these kinds of stories only get good ratings when they break news, and should not be over-reported. “If we want to save where news is going we’ve got to make it more relevant to viewers,” he said.
Kaplan was optimistic about the effect these changes might have on the news industry. “Maybe we have a chance to change the paradigm,” he said.