NAB 2008: ‘Very Uncomfortable Time’ for Stations

‘Leading Change in a Digital Newsroom’ Panel: Focus on Web

Las Vegas -- Audience Research and Development senior vice president Steve Safran chastised Radio-Television News Directors Association/National Association of Broadcasters attendees for being too comfortable in the midst of the digital revolution. “It’s a very uncomfortable time,” said Safran, moderator of the “Leading Change in a Digital Newsroom” panel here.

Safran mentioned the oft-repeated mantra, “What would Murrow do?,” and said the famed newsman would be blogging, outfitting reporters with digital-video cameras and teaching them to write insightful blog posts, as well. (To watch a video Q&A with Safran, click here.)

A trio of station executives shared their best practices with attendees, such as KLAS Las site, which is divided into six geographical sections to get that much more local for Vegas users. Regarding staffing, KLAS Web manager Caroline Bleakley mentioned looking within the newsroom for “hidden gems” with a knack -- and an interest -- for Web production.

The news veterans mentioned how high-priced talent might have trouble finding jobs -- or at least still commanding that high price -- as more eyeballs shift online (that was, of course, the case in many of the recent CBS layoffs at the station level).

Marian Pittman, news director at WSB Atlanta, spoke of “reinventing editors” and pushing everyone on staff to work on Web content. “We’ve made a lot of people uncomfortable,” she said of her charges. “They’ve either grasped it or moved on.”

Safran shared figures from a recent Borrell Associates study that showed that television is pulling in $1.1 billion in local online revenue, far less than what Internet companies and newspapers are doing.

Scripps Television interactive VP Adam Symson mentioned visiting the newsroom of a large, successful daily paper, with “hundreds and hundreds” of reporters gathering news. “If they figure [online] out, we’re dead,” he said with an uneasy laugh.

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