It is hard to think of a year when local TV faced a bigger test than 2016. With an epochal presidential election, unrest in several cities after police shootings and a once-a-century event that bonded neighbor with neighbor (cheers to you, Cubs fans!) the year brought a succession of surprises and required the utmost skill and sensitivity from those in the local news trenches.
Broadcasters rose to the challenge, especially the station group, general managers, news director and multiplatform broadcaster we have chosen from a strong field of candidates as the most outstanding of 2016. From a small but mighty group in Graham Media to a news director faced with a trio of unthinkable tragedies unfolding in just four days to GMs who saw around corners to a multiplatform broadcaster exploring new forms of storytelling, this group had a year for the ages. And they did it as the industry cosmos was being rearranged, in the form of the still-unfolding spectrum auction.
Speaking at the Media Institute’s Communications Forum Luncheon in November in Washington, D.C., National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith noted communities’ “deep reliance on local broadcasters,” a theme he has sounded loudly and often. But Smith underscored the relationship between viewer and station in even more stark terms given the rise of “fake” news and the strained trust between many consumers and the news media.
Viewers continuing to tune in their area stations, the NAB chief argued, “compels us to keep innovating. Access to your local stations is always available for free with an antenna, and no one but local broadcasters provide this ubiquitous public service.”
He added: “Everyone wants what broadcasters have—our content and our spectrum—but nobody wants to do what we do—provide local news and information, live and free to all Americans.” The honorees profiled on the pages that follow have done just that at a remarkably high level, especially during this landmark year.
GM of the Year: Markets 1-25 (As Cleveland Rocks, WKYC Chief Rolls)
GM of the Year: Markets 26-50 (KTBC GM Shows Dogged Commitment to Veterans)
GM of the Year: Markets 51+ (Standing Tall in a Summer of Tumult)
News Director of the Year (Leading Newsroom and Community Through Darkness)
Multiplatform Broadcaster of the Year (Scripps Scripts Multilayered Digital Story)
Station Group of the Year (Graham Media: Small in Number, Mighty in Influence)