NAB 2008: RTNDA: Digital Minds Should Plot Digital Strategy

Panelists Urge Stations to Hire Staffers with Web Experience 4/16/2008 05:48:00 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- Traditional newsroom staffers with traditional news-gathering philosophies don’t cut it in the fully-converged media world, according to the panelists here at Radio-Television News Directors Association session “Going Local … in a New Direction.”

Citizen Rain

Digital-media directors Cory Bergman (Belo’s and and Jacques Natz (Hearst-Argyle Television) stressed that retrofitting the newsroom to tackle Web and mobile challenges does not cut it anymore.

“You’ve got to find people who are enlightened,” Natz said of staffing. “Even those who don’t get [the nuances of digital] know they have to get it and surround themselves with people who do.”

Bergman, who detailed several elements of KING Seattle’s relaunched Citizen Rain blog aggregator, said stations have an at-best-flat revenue outlook for the near-term if they fail to innovate online. He added that part of the problem stems from station Web staffers who are underpaid and typically left out of strategic planning.

“News directors run the Web-programming departments, even though it’s mostly not news that’s on the [station site],” he said. “Hire people with Web experience -- hiring is where it starts.”

Moderated by WCBS New York digital media director Dan Shelley, the panel also touched on aggregating other voices in the market, whether it’s bloggers, community events or even stories from rival stations. Citizen Rain, for one, aggregates more than 300 Seattle-focused blogs' and groups' content for several different communities within the DMA.

Shelley mentioned the new CBS Local Ad Network, which offers bloggers a widget with relevant CBS news and a cut of ad revenue. The panelists said stations that fail to be proactive in terms of aggregating the community’s voices can watch the likes of newspapers and Web pure plays like Citysearch and EveryBlock grab mind share and revenue.

“You can say so long to promoting yourself as the voice in the community,” Natz said. “There are too many voices out there.”

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.

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