AS PAPERS CUT, TRIBUNE UPDATES TV NEWS
Stations Add Staff,
(The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 1, 2008)
(PDF of original; Link to story on wsj.com)
as Industry Swoons;
Making a 'Mega Map'
by SAM SCHECHNER
Tribune Co. is slashing staff and space at newspapers across the country. But in another old-media business -- local television news -- it's moving in the opposite direction.
Nearly half of Tribune's 23 broadcast stations are expanding or launching local news operations, many of them hiring staff as a result. The biggest investment is in KSWB-TV in San Diego, which has hired a staff of nearly 50 to produce the station's first in-house news broadcasts in nearly three years.
KSWB abandoned its original newscast in 2005 to save money. The new programs, which debut Friday, will be radically different from the old, with a format that borrows from conventions of cable television and incorporates interactive elements of the Web. Morning anchor Arthel Neville will wander an open set, chatting with reporters, as well as with "Jack the Cop," a former sergeant for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Some correspondents could join via Web cam. If the format works well, the company could import elements to other parts of its empire.
"It's practically like there's a government regulation that regulates how a TV station sounds," says Lee Abrams, Tribune's chief innovation officer. He notes that some of local-news conventions are fodder for parody, from "The Simpsons" to the 2004 movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," which stars Will Ferrell as a pompous 1970s news anchor -- and is set in San Diego. "It's out of date and ready for reinvention," he says. ...