White House Goes Local
WCBS-TV Says Hello to L-Lo
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Washington—The affiliate news services for Cox, Hearst-Argyle, Belo, Sinclair and Tribune TV each got an individual interview with President Bush last Monday.
Why the local sitdown? An attempt to bypass the national media? No, says Allen Abney, from the White House Office of Media Affairs. They had all asked for interviews at one time or another, he explains.
"The president just wanted to talk about progress in Iraq and the state of the economy and wanted to talk to the American people through local news as a change of pace," Abney says. Jennifer Hitchcock for one, deputy Washington bureau chief for the 25 Hearst-Agyle stations, confirmed that its request for an interview had been in the works for some time.
Hearst-Agyle reporter Laurie Kinney got eight minutes, as did the other groups. Did Hitchcock feel she was being used to do an end run around the national media, whose coverage of Iraq the administration has criticized? "Not at all," says Hitchcock. "We feel like we earned this. It was a hard-news interview, and we asked the questions we wanted to ask." Besides, she says, she pointed out to the White House that her group's total viewership is greater than any of the national cable news nets.
New York—Lynda Lopez, E! Entertainment reporter and host of Glow
on E!'s Style network, has joined WCBS-TV as a reporter, covering fashion, trends and celebrity. Lopez has experience with all three given that she is also the sister of singer/film star/entertainment-news staple Jennifer Lopez. The busy Lynda Lopez is also working with Universal on a possible talk show for fall 2004.
Los Angeles—Much-honored KTTV(TV) reporter Tony Valdez has added another award to his collection. The John Anson Ford Human Relations Award for "advancing human relations and resolving inter-group conflicts." It is given out annually by the Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. Valdez is a general assignment reporter and host of L.A.'s Most Wanted
, a local version of America's Most Wanted
that has helped catch more than a hundred suspects, as well as a Sunday public-affairs show. Valdez received the award at a ceremony Oct. 16.
Muncie, Ind.—"If the news gods are smiling on us," says Managing Editor Terry Heifetz, in a couple of weeks, Newslink Indiana will integrate various TV, radio, newspaper, cable, and online news operations and a mix of noncom and student-run outlets to give students a taste of "journalism jobs of the future." The project is run out of Ball State University in Muncie and funded by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.
NewsLink Indiana will combine veteran commercial broadcasting pros and students but "without these old crusty journalism professors looking over them and telling them what to do," says Heifetz, who came over from CNBC 10 months ago to manage the project.
Four news professionals are involved: Heifetz; Chris Bavender, who joined from WRTV(TV) Indianapolis to anchor a nightly newscast; Wright Bryan, Web editor and formerly of CNN Interactive; and Tim Underhill, production manager.
"No one really knows what convergence is," says Heifetz, "but, in a college environment, the beauty of this is that you can experiment." The Web will be a major component, he says.
WMUR-TV Manchester, N.H., got the exclusive broadcast interview with Kathleen Gregg (above), wife of New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, who was kidnapped from her home by robbers and eventually escaped. News Director Jennifer Crompton attributes the "get" to the station's long-standing relationship with the Greggs. In fact, it was the senator and his wife who approached political reporter Scott Spradling about doing the interview, knowing that they would be receiving a lot of requests and that the calls would just keep coming unless they spoke to someone, says Crompton.