TX Tyler, Texas, had an ace in the hole when two men were
arrested in late February following a string of church fires around DMA No.
109. With the CBS affiliate involved in a news and marketing partnership with
the Tyler Morning Telegraph daily newspaper, the station gained a big
scoop when Telegraph reporter Kenneth Dean landed an interview
with suspect Jason Bourque's mother.
Unlike typical newspaper-station partnerships, which
feature occasional on-air appearances from paper personnel, nearly all of the Telegraph
reporters go live on KYTX, adding much depth to breaking news. Dean shared that
Bourque said her son's religious faith remained strong, and the family stood by
him, before anchor Gillian Sheridan told viewers to read "much more" about the
interview in the next day's Telegraph. (Bourque also asserted that her
son was innocent.)
KYTX News Director Dan Delgado says adding 16 seasoned
journalists to his on-air product gives the station a big advantage. "We could
have three different stories on the church fires from three different angles,"
he says. "We were able to do far more on it than the other stations could've
hoped to have done."
Stations and newspapers are increasingly looking to each
other to expand their reach. Scripps' WPTV West Palm Beach, for example,
partners with the company's Treasure
Coast papers and
Tribune's Sun-Sentinel. Some companies, such as Tribune and Media
General, have joint newsrooms in select markets where they own TV and print
But it's rare to see so many newspaper reporters on air. Telegraph
Editor Dave Berry says that after some initial camera-fright, virtually every Telegraph
reporter-including those covering business, the arts and religion-goes live
from the newsroom, which is connected via fiber to KYTX's digs. Berry adds that many
have enjoyed a heightened profile in the market since the partnership debuted
in late 2009. "Newspaper reporters generally labor in obscurity," he says.
"This gives us a chance to put them out in public."
Telegraph Publisher Nelson Clyde
says the arrangement adds another dimension to both his reporters and the
paper. "It makes us a multimedia company," he notes. "It makes [KYTX] one,
KYTX parent London Broadcasting is pushing the model at
its other stations, which include KCEN Waco and KBMT Beaumont. "It's part of
our company philosophy," says London Executive VP/COO Phil Hurley, who adds
that the stations do not cut staff as a result of the newspaper enhancements.
KYTX made headlines in 2007 when Hurley tapped beauty
queen Lauren Jones to anchor the KYTX news; Jones and her co-workers were the
stars of the short-lived Fox reality program Anchorwoman.
Merging newspaper and station cultures can be tricky,
says the newspaper folks needed assurances that no Anchorwoman-like
stunts would occur. The pact is bound by a handshake, he says, and either party
is free to walk if they're not satisfied with the arrangement. "If [KYTX] were
to do something like that, we're out of it," he says. "We treasure our credibility."
The folks at the Telegraph, which is family-owned
by T.B. Butler Publishing, received what Delgado calls a "TV 101" crash course
before going on-air, but they're still learning the ropes. Dean's report on his
interview with Kimberly Bourque, for instance, lacked the mellifluous delivery
one might expect from a veteran TV reporter.
But the KYTX brass says a halting presentation and
stubbly appearance can actually enhance the Telegraph reporters'
credibility. "We went into it not expecting them to be smooth talkers," says
KYTX General Manager John Gaston. "And I believe the public doesn't expect them
to be news anchors."
Airing news in HD, KYTX is the No. 2 station in
Tyler-Longview. The DMA is dominated by Raycom's KLTV; the station's news
director, Kenny Boles, called the setup a "desperate move" by both KYTX and the
Delgado says the partnership is just starting to click,
with the Telegraph folks adding depth to the station's reportage and
breadth to the amount of topics it covers. The newspaper people got another big
chance to shine last week, when incumbent Gov. Rick Perry defeated Sen. Kay
Bailey Hutchison in Texas'
Republican gubernatorial primary.
is a diary market, KYTX management won't know how the Telegraph
partnership is affecting ratings until the February book arrives later this
month. Also unknown is the effect on the Telegraph's circulation, which
is 32,000; Clyde says "more robust" product
certainly won't hurt readership.
KYTX managers suspect
that the numbers will be positive. "If you're a believer that content drives
ratings, our content is better," Gaston says. "In a smaller market, that kind
of depth in your reporting can be a big advantage."