Local TV

Gulf Coast Stations Blanket Oil Mess

Once-in-a-generation story hits NOLA TV outlets—again 6/07/2010 12:14:00 AM Eastern

Lanzano Oversees Web Relaunch

Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) President/CEO Steve Lanzano has marked a frenetic six months on the job, and has an even busier six months ahead. Highlights for the first half of 2010 included meeting NAB chief Gordon Smith (“He’s a very impressive guy”) and embarking on a nationwide agency tour that showed Lanzano—formerly the COO at ad agency MPG US—that the advertising world has considerable faith in local television.

“I was intrigued by how bullish they were, not only on the economy but on spot TV,” he says. “That buoyed my decision to come here.”

The next six months will include a major redesign of TVB.org to make it more of an industry portal, and an organizational restructuring to get more business-development people beating the bushes on behalf of members.

Between stations’ community sites, surging auto advertising and strong network upfront presentations, the affable Lanzano says he’s “coolly confident” business will stay strong: “The increases we’ve seen in the last five months outstrip any other media.”
—Michael Malone

THE FEELING is all too familiar for New Orleans reporters
and residents—the growing dread as an ominous
dark mass inches closer to land. Not five years
removed from the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, newsrooms at
stations up and down the Gulf Coast are putting all resources
into covering the devastating BP oil spill off their shores. With
hurricane season officially underway,
comparisons to storm coverage—
and even Katrina itself—abound.

While Katrina claimed almost
2,000 lives, many are drawing a
parallel between covering the storm
and covering the spill. “As bad as it
was, Katrina came, stopped and left
us with a mess,” says WVUE New
Orleans President/General Manager
Joe Cook. “We’re not sure how long
this one will go on for.”

The media presence in the Gulf
Coast region has swelled as BP’s efforts to stem the fl ow have
failed in recent weeks. But stations in New Orleans, Mobile-
Pensacola and Houston, among others, have been on top of the
story ever since the April 20 explosion that killed 11. For them,
it’s a local story about the environment; industries such as tourism,
fishing and energy; and crippling traffi c when the likes of
President Obama come to town.

“It’s a massive story, a monumental story,” says KHOU Houston
Executive News Director Keith Connors. “I don’t see us doing a newscast that doesn’t report on it
for [months].”

Stations are getting creative to get to the
heart of the story. Some are renting helicopters
and chartering boats for the day,
or relying on network partners for aerial
shots. “It’s not the easiest story to cover,”
says WWL New Orleans News Director
Chris Slaughter, who likens the spill to
“an extremely slow-moving hurricane.”

WVUE hired not only a boat, but a
diver to shoot up-close video of the spill.
“We went underwater right at the rig,”
says News Director Mikel Schaefer.

Access to vital sites and figures and
timely information has been good, not
great. “We get the same information the public is getting,” says
WEAR Mobile-Pensacola General Manager Terry Cole. Some
believe the networks seem to be getting preferential treatment:
“BP is more willing to grant access to the national media than
the local media,” Connors says. “But that doesn’t mean we’re
not trying.”

Stations are turning up a number
of compelling local stories. Houston
stations are focusing on BP, which
has a giant headquarters in DMA
No. 10. KBMT Beaumont News
Director Paul Bergen says his newsroom
is looking into a business story
on the various industries that have
popped up related to the spill, and
has aired a lighter report on a restaurant
scrapping an all-you-can-eat
seafood promotion. KING Seattle
environmental reporter Gary Chittim
flew in to provide sister Belo stations with a batch of insightful
environmental pieces.

News crews, knowing they’re first responders to a rare and
unique tragedy, are running on adrenaline these days. “This may
be the biggest story anyone in this market covers,” says WVUE’s
Cook. “And a lot of them covered Katrina.”

E-mail comments to michael.malone@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @StationBiz

Lanzano Oversees Web Relaunch

Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) President/CEO Steve Lanzano has marked a frenetic six months on the job, and has an even busier six months ahead. Highlights for the first half of 2010 included meeting NAB chief Gordon Smith (“He’s a very impressive guy”) and embarking on a nationwide agency tour that showed Lanzano—formerly the COO at ad agency MPG US—that the advertising world has considerable faith in local television.

“I was intrigued by how bullish they were, not only on the economy but on spot TV,” he says. “That buoyed my decision to come here.”

The next six months will include a major redesign of TVB.org to make it more of an industry portal, and an organizational restructuring to get more business-development people beating the bushes on behalf of members.

Between stations’ community sites, surging auto advertising and strong network upfront presentations, the affable Lanzano says he’s “coolly confident” business will stay strong: “The increases we’ve seen in the last five months outstrip any other media.”
—Michael Malone

 

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