Local TV

Newspaper Reporters Repurposed

As stations rebound, many find print vets fit their content needs 5/31/2010 12:01:00 PM Eastern

Stations Pick Up Vietnam Vet Special

Earlier this year, we reported on an ambitious undertaking by Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) to air Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories (Station to Station, Feb. 22). It turned out to be a true multiplatform event (at LZLambeau.org), offering a belated thank-you to the state’s Vietnam veterans; in all, 75,000 people took in exhibitions, a motorcycle ride and a Lambeau Field ceremony May 21-23, and WPT aired the three-night documentary last week.

The concept has caught on statewide— and elsewhere in the country. Several Wisconsin commercial stations, including WKBT LaCrosse, WLUK Green Bay, WISC Madison and WBAY Green Bay, will air the documentary, as will public television outlets in neighboring states. PBS stations WGVU Grand Rapids and KLRN San Antonio also plan to air documentaries on their region’s Vietnam vets, with accompanying honors and celebrations.

For all the high-tech, high-volume content on television, War Stories’ power comes from its starkness, as veterans somberly recount their memories. “I’ve watched it over and over and over,” says WPT Director of Television James Steinbach. “The stories are really powerful.”
—Michael Malone

When it came time to find a new manager to
oversee the vast Hawaii News Now newsroom,
which represents Honolulu stations KGMB, KHNL
and KFVE, the best candidate turned out to be the one with the
least television experience. Mark Platte started as news director
May 10—leaving his position as editor of the Honolulu Advertiser
daily newspaper.

Honolulu is, of course, a unique
market, and deep knowledge of
the local manner is essential for
any media manager in the 50th
State. KGMB General Manager Rick
Blangiardi acknowledged Platte’s
“great understanding of how Hawaii
works” at the time of the hiring, and
it was also a plus that Platte knew
how to run a massive newsroom.

As television enjoys an economic
rebound, a number of newspaper
veterans are likely to follow Platte
into TV news. Local TV seems to
have all the momentum: A TVB
study showed that television reaches nearly 90% of adults per
day, while newspapers reach just short of 39%. Furthermore,
57.1% of respondents said broadcast TV is where they go first
for local news—miles ahead of the 3.7% that opt for papers.

Newspapers and TV stations have long partnered to take
advantage of their unique strengths—KYTX Tyler, Texas, has more than a dozen newspaper people on
its newscasts (Station to Station, March 8).
But with papers reeling, print vets appear to
be finding new careers in TV, from former
Kansas City Star reporter DeAnn Smith now
at KMBC Kansas City, to New York Times
reporter Louise Story taking a contributing
editor role at Bloomberg TV, to Allbritton
tapping a pair of D.C. newspaper-business
vets, Jim Brady and Erik Wemple, for top
jobs at the WJLA Washington/News Channel
8 Website, TBD.com.

California’s Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
added three former newspaper columnists
and an editor in the last six months to provide
insider scoops, online and on air.

“As stations add new content creators to their newsroom, these
are the kinds of folks who can create great content for the Web,”
says Mark Toney, senior VP at consulting firm SmithGeiger, “and
who can extend that to the linear product on TV.”

As all journos are feeding the 24/7 beast known as the Web,
the differences between a print and television reporter aren’t as
signifi cant anymore. In many newsrooms,
print and broadcast reporters
work side by side, creating content
for all the various platforms. Media
General has a handful of “convergence”
markets such as Myrtle Beach
and Tampa, where the combined
Tampa Tribune/WFLA newsroom
sees TV people write for the paper
and newspaper people go on-air.

Tribune has a similar setup in
Hartford and Miami, among other
markets. Tribune Publishing Executive
VP Bob Gremillion is happy to
see multiple Sun Sentinel newspaper
reporters shooting video and presenting
their stories on WSFL. “It’s extremely important that [reporters]
be interchangeable,” he says. “People who are doing that are
very valuable to the company.”

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

Stations Pick Up Vietnam Vet Special

Earlier this year, we reported on an ambitious undertaking by Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) to air Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories (Station to Station, Feb. 22). It turned out to be a true multiplatform event (at LZLambeau.org), offering a belated thank-you to the state’s Vietnam veterans; in all, 75,000 people took in exhibitions, a motorcycle ride and a Lambeau Field ceremony May 21-23, and WPT aired the three-night documentary last week.

The concept has caught on statewide— and elsewhere in the country. Several Wisconsin commercial stations, including WKBT LaCrosse, WLUK Green Bay, WISC Madison and WBAY Green Bay, will air the documentary, as will public television outlets in neighboring states. PBS stations WGVU Grand Rapids and KLRN San Antonio also plan to air documentaries on their region’s Vietnam vets, with accompanying honors and celebrations.

For all the high-tech, high-volume content on television, War Stories’ power comes from its starkness, as veterans somberly recount their memories. “I’ve watched it over and over and over,” says WPT Director of Television James Steinbach. “The stories are really powerful.”
—Michael Malone

 

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