Newspaper Reporters Repurposed

As stations rebound, many find print vets fit their content needs
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When it came time to find a new manager to oversee the vast Hawaii News Now newsroom, which represents Honolulu stations KGMB, KHNL and KFVE, the best candidate turned out to be the one with the least television experience. Mark Platte started as news director May 10—leaving his position as editor of the Honolulu Advertiser daily newspaper.

Honolulu is, of course, a unique market, and deep knowledge of the local manner is essential for any media manager in the 50th State. KGMB General Manager Rick Blangiardi acknowledged Platte’s “great understanding of how Hawaii works” at the time of the hiring, and it was also a plus that Platte knew how to run a massive newsroom.

As television enjoys an economic rebound, a number of newspaper veterans are likely to follow Platte into TV news. Local TV seems to have all the momentum: A TVB study showed that television reaches nearly 90% of adults per day, while newspapers reach just short of 39%. Furthermore, 57.1% of respondents said broadcast TV is where they go first for local news—miles ahead of the 3.7% that opt for papers.

Newspapers and TV stations have long partnered to take advantage of their unique strengths—KYTX Tyler, Texas, has more than a dozen newspaper people on its newscasts (Station to Station, March 8). But with papers reeling, print vets appear to be finding new careers in TV, from former Kansas City Star reporter DeAnn Smith now at KMBC Kansas City, to New York Times reporter Louise Story taking a contributing editor role at Bloomberg TV, to Allbritton tapping a pair of D.C. newspaper-business vets, Jim Brady and Erik Wemple, for top jobs at the WJLA Washington/News Channel 8 Website, TBD.com.

California’s Comcast SportsNet Bay Area added three former newspaper columnists and an editor in the last six months to provide insider scoops, online and on air.

“As stations add new content creators to their newsroom, these are the kinds of folks who can create great content for the Web,” says Mark Toney, senior VP at consulting firm SmithGeiger, “and who can extend that to the linear product on TV.”

As all journos are feeding the 24/7 beast known as the Web, the differences between a print and television reporter aren’t as signifi cant anymore. In many newsrooms, print and broadcast reporters work side by side, creating content for all the various platforms. Media General has a handful of “convergence” markets such as Myrtle Beach and Tampa, where the combined Tampa Tribune/WFLA newsroom sees TV people write for the paper and newspaper people go on-air.

Tribune has a similar setup in Hartford and Miami, among other markets. Tribune Publishing Executive VP Bob Gremillion is happy to see multiple Sun Sentinel newspaper reporters shooting video and presenting their stories on WSFL. “It’s extremely important that [reporters] be interchangeable,” he says. “People who are doing that are very valuable to the company.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @StationBiz

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