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Citizen Journalists Get Syndie Show

4/13/2008 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Just over a year since it debuted YouNews on the Web, Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM) is packaging users' videos of twisters, high school hoops and impossibly cute Shih Tzus into a syndicated show. The weekly YouNewsTV program has been cleared to air in more than 15 markets come September.

Some 52 TV stations, including Granite, Fisher and Journal Broadcast Group outlets, use the YouNews platform on their Websites, with more than 50,000 members registered to submit user-generated content (UGC) to the station sites. YouNews gets between 10,000 and 20,000 submissions in a typical week, the majority of them digital photos.

Clips for the show will also come from other user-generated content portals such as and

YouNews' partner stations get the right of first refusal for the syndicated show, which is being produced by the Wisconsin firm Tweedee Productions. Stations have the option of running the program as is, or inserting clips of local interest and tapping station talent to host. “Producing and syndicating this programming gives stations a turnkey way to produce more local programming,” BIM CEO Timur Yarnall says. “It gives our clients a great way to compete against the large national portals that are currently receiving the bulk of online ad spending, by leveraging the advantages that local TV has—fantastic local brand recognition alongside trusted local sales executives.”

Among the stations planning to air the show come fall are KSFY Sioux Falls and KBWB San Francisco. Partner stations see considerable sponsorship opportunities in the extended YouNews brand. “We've had unprecedented success securing local sponsorship of YouNews online, and have seen a tremendous increase in user participation on,” said KSFY General Manager Kelly Manning. “We're very pleased that we'll be able to offer the on-air sponsorship as well.”

This won't be the first time user-generated content has migrated from the Web to television. CNN airs user clips of breaking news through its iReport platform, and YouNews content often pops up in partner stations' newscasts. WNDY Indianapolis aired the primetime special The Best of, featuring footage from its UGC Web platform, in March, while WTVH Syracuse aired a half-hour special comprised of local YouNews footage in February. “We'd been thinking of doing a YouNews show, and when they did it in Syracuse, it really crystallized,” Yarnall says.

According to Yarnall, YouNewsTV has minimal production costs, thanks to the free content, and will appeal not only to older viewers who enjoy watching storms, local amateur sports and pets, but the younger generation that spends its days on YouTube and Facebook: “That's the group TV is most in danger of losing.”