WKRN-TV gets lots of attention

Here’s the best photo I’ve seen so far of my presentation at Gnomedex on Saturday. It was taken by Jim Roberts of Noded, and I appreciate that he’s letting me use it. Note that I’m wearing a News2 hat. That’s because the subject of my presentation was about my client, WKRN-TV here in Nashville.

Here’s the PowerPoint.
Here’s the MP3.

But WKRN is also getting a lot of attention over its decision to switch its newsroom from one with traditional reporter-photographer crews to the Video Journalist (VJ) concept that Michael Rosenblum pioneered in Europe. In an article in this week’s Broadcasting and Cable (not online yet), writer Allison Romano looks for controversy to provide “balance” and ends up with consultant Valerie Hyman who says the concept is “really a downgrading of reporting.”

Reporting is a skill, and photojournalism is a skill. Very few people can be expert in both.
There’s truth to that, for sure, but it misses the bigger point. This specialization within the industry is a part of its collapse, not only economically but also in how it has generated and fostered the celebrity that is television news 2005.

My friend and blogger, Peggy Phillip of WMC-TV in Memphis, tells it like it is:

It won’t be an easy transition but I think it’s one we must make. And early on, there will be issues with who-gets-what-and-when.

The “Newsroom Hierarchy” has always existed. Some reporters get the lead stories. Some get the B‑block stories. Keeping a viewer/customer interested throughout the newscast is what we must do so both are important. But the lead story reporters are higher on the food chain. I can see a transitionary future where we have some reporter-photojournalist teams providing stories for a newscast and some VJ’s providing stories. Investigative units will get bigger, not smaller. I already have photojournalists and reporters on staff who I believe could handle being a one-person-unit. And might like it. (I’m sure they’ll tell me.)

In my vision, producers will have to be on their toes. They’ll have more to pick and choose from and what doesn’t make the broadcast, might make the internet. Not every story will be a “package.” But most interesting to me is the move away from the cosmetic you-gotta-be-fabulous-looking-to-get-on-TV aspect. With videojournalism, it will be about the story, not the story teller.

Amen, Peggy.

What most don’t see yet is how the two overall strategies fit together — the online with the newsroom makeover. If you don’t get it, stay tuned.

Comments

  1. That is a GREAT. PICTURE. 🙂

  2. Thanks for posting that audio, Terry.

  3. I have that hat.

  4. Peggy Phillip makes sense. I’d love to see stations get away from the star-making factories they’ve become and refocus on telling the stories of other people’s lives.

    But I guess that’s asking alot.

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