The Changing Face(s) of Local News

Here is the latest in the ongoing series of essays, “TV News in a Postmodern World.” This one is called The Changing Face(s) of Local News, and it’s surely to cause a few raised eyebrows (what else is new?). It’s hard to write about something to which you’re so close, but I think it’s very important to tell the story of WKRN-TV and its VJ concept of creating local newscasts. I feel that way not so much because I was a part of its beginning but because of what’s coming out of the experiment, and how it’s changed day-to-day life in that shop.

To be sure, WKRN’s news programs can be better, but that’s not the point. I have confidence that they will get far better than most people think, because tweaking presentation is a manageable skill. What’s really important here is the back end of their newsgathering machine, the efficiencies they’re discovering, and, most importantly, the kinds of people it takes to do this. Substance and experience are pouring into that newsroom, and that alone is sufficient to overturn some of the basics of contemporary television newsgathering.

The Changing Face(s) of Local News

This essay is of special significance to those of you on this list who are involved in journalism or communications education, for if indeed WKRN-TV is blazing a trail to the future, then it will surely impact the “farm system” approach to employment and recruiting, and that means you.


  1. Fascinating! I immediately posted your essay on our Atlanta Media Bloggers site, and sent it to a contact here at WSB-TV.

    I am terribly curious to see if Atlanta local news stations have been thinking along these lines.

    Seems we all have a love/hate relationship with local news, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a place at the table? Or the loony bin I should say.

    Terry, if you or anyone from WKRN happens to be in Atlanta, please get in touch with anyone from Atlanta Media Bloggers. We’d love to hear more about what you are doing.

  2. Thanks, Grayson. I’ll let Mike know, and who knows? I’ll likely be there one day.

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