Local News Lives

Local news was always alive just ignored. Somehow a cat in a tree one thousand miles away seemed of more interest to local audiences than a lead poisoning threat in a regional apartment complex. A recent headline in Broadcasting and Cable proclaims “Local News Escapes the Ax.”

The recession brought grave concern about the viability of local news coverage. Television news departments are still laying off staff. Network news departments continue to lay off journalists as well. News budgets are flat. However, there are reports of hope this mid-term election year in the United States will contribute to the revival of local news coverage.

The conflict and controversy of politicians throwing mud at each other in political advertisements and in news sound bites is expected to revive an industry? Wow, how unimaginative. No wonder audiences find a cat in the tree more interesting.

The prediction a year ago local news was headed the way of newspapers is proven wrong by time. However to the contrary, a year ago Fox and NBC began pool coverage of local news rolling out Local News Services in some major American markets. The tried and proven pooling of resources grew in popularity as other news departments either joined local news services or purchased media they produce.

This year, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting joins the local news return. CPB last month began a local news initiative. The Corporation provides funds for Local Journalism Centers with public television and radio stations. Patricia Harrison, CEO and President of CPB gave a lengthy explanation for their inspiration of LJCs.

"Working together with stations across a region, along with emerging new digital journalism organizations, they can make a significant contribution to news gathering and distribution, which is critical to the information health of these communities."

The continuing recession and new media disruption of traditional news coverage brings new thinking to news planning. There has always been a need to know about regional issues and events.

Broadcast Newsroom Computing considers change management next.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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