Thursday, November 20, 2008

The New Way To Cover News

Rest assured, given the current economic conditions and the flagging fortunes of media outlets, this'll be here soon enough.

But right now, a joint "news coverage sharing" venture between NBC and FOX is being implemented in markets where the two entities actually own stations. This USA Today story from last week has details.

Basically, the NBC and FOX-owned stations in those markets will create a shared assignment desk, with some camera crews from each station devoted to staffing it. The goal, presumably, is to cover news and events that would have been covered by each station separately - with just one crew shared between the two stations.

The joint effort would then serve up the video to the stations, which would make their separate decisions on how to use it.

The stations would, under the arrangement, theoretically be freed to use their own remaining non-shared crews to cover enterprise stories, and provide unique coverage not shared with the other station.

But it's not at all hard to frame all this as a cost-cutting measure, despite the FOX and NBC groups saying it'll help them beef up independent reporting.

The deal only applies, for now, to the NBC and FOX owned stations. Neither affiliate in Cleveland is owned by the network, though they both once were...NBC once owned WKYC/3, and FOX owned WJW/8 from the mid-1990's until this year's sale to Local TV LLC.

But it's easy to see that the idea of sharing news crews between competing stations will spread like wildfire in the current economic downturn. Local TV has already basically merged its news operations with Chicago-based Tribune, under the oversight of Tribune COO/former Jacor and Clear Channel radio head/suburban Cincinnati resident Randy Michaels.

We just hope the "independent reporting" doesn't mean that stations using such a shared resource would have just one or two reporters doing overhyped "sweeps" stories...still a feature of local news despite the recent implementation of people meters in Cleveland TV ratings.

Nah, that'd never happen...honest...

The USA Today piece notes that the NBC/FOX venture is also offering up its services to other TV stations in the markets involved, as well as radio, print and online news providers.

Using TV news audio is something many radio stations already do.

Among other local agreements, WKYC has a non-exclusive pact with a number of local stations, including both Rubber City Radio oldies/news WAKR/1590 and crosstown Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 in the Akron market...

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