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A newscast without reporters and anchors? Imagin[ator] that.

25
Aug

Even though I’m still a senior in college, I find myself browsing job postings every so often just to see what’s out there. They’re usually littered with terms like “MMJ” and “digital journalist,” but never before have I seen anything like this:


Executive Producer and Imaginator (Full-Time Position)

A radically different approach to local TV News is being planned and the new Tribune Company is looking for the right person to hire, lead, and implement a revolution in TV news. Experience in running a TV Newsroom is not necessary and might actually be detrimental, as this position requires someone with no traditional TV News baggage, because there’s little tradition involved in this idea. We do want someone:

* With a fiery passion to help re-invent the 80’s rooted, focus grouped, yuppie anchors and a news desk, super doppler ultra weather style
* Who can take the blueprint and pilot for a new concept and make it happen with guidance, ideas and interaction
* Who lives and breathes content
* That is in sync with the pulse of the streets, not the PC Journalism world
* Has well honed B.S. Radar
* Who understands and embraces new production technology
* Who thinks in stereo and lives in color
* Who knows that most local TV News sucks and wants to do something about it
* Can survive and prosper in a modern high brilliance standards rock n roll culture
* Gets “it”
* Excruciatingly high quality, imagination and execution standards

The creatively challenged, old school TV news types and anyone lost in the 80’s really shouldn’t apply. But if this thing excites you, talk to us. Shoot your resume, POV on TV News and anything else you think might help sell you as the right person to deliver the goods on our new idea for TV News. KIAH-TV is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Please list source of referral. No phone calls please. Send resumes to: KIAH-TV, HR Coordinator, 7700 Westpark Dr., Houston, TX 77063 or e-mail to: rbare@39online.com.


As a fresh faced, (almost) college grad, this type of description should appeal to me, right? Forget “old school TV news types” and the usual “TV news baggage,” I don’t have any of that. Maybe I’m their ideal candidate.

Not exactly. While I applaud Tribune for attempting to reinvent news, I’m not exactly sure this is going to work.

Since I am from Houston, I felt almost obligated to blog about the recent shakeup at KIAH-TV. Channel 39 is dumping traditional newscasts for a format called NewsFix, in which anchors and reporters will never appear on the screen, only produce the content.

It’s quite a shift from seeing huge billboards plastered with their lead anchor, Mia Gradney, all over the city, and trust me, there were plenty of those put up in the past year.  But as the advertising budget and the ratings went down, the new idea came up.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Channel 39’s general manager, Roger Bare said, “The core concept is to focus more on storytelling by allowing those in the story to tell the story and place video and audio at the center of all we do.”

When they first made the announcement, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. An endless stream of video and sound? What makes that different from a documentary? How will viewers believe the story if there isn’t a credible face and/or voice behind it?

However, Lee Abrams, the mastermind of NewsFix and Tribune Co.’s chief innovation officer, says this will allow us to “escape the grip of the 1970s television playbook that seems to be what every station is addicted to.”

But New York anchors seem to think maybe there’s a reason why people are addicted to that format.

“When was the last time you heard anyone say, ‘Turn on Channel 6,'” said one local anchor in a New York Daily News article, “I love their sound bites and video.”

And I have to say, he has a point.

One KIAH-TV employee told the Chronicle, ” There will be natural sound, and you won’t see the reporters. It will be news for people who don’t watch the news, which sounds a lot like opening a bar for people who don’t drink.”

It sounds to me like KIAH-TV’s viewers, and employees for that matter, will have to quench their journalism thirst somewhere else for the time being.