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Fox TV stations and the E.W. Scripps Co create a local news service for stations in Tampa, Detroit and Phoenix



Wfts-hd-logo2Wtvt-logo Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13 may ground its helicopter, amid news that the station’s owner has developed a resource-sharing venture with the corporate parent of rival WFTS-Ch. 28 -- teaming up to gather video of routine news events and share aircraft expenses in Tampa, Detroit and Phoenix, Ariz.

There may be no surer sign of changing times than the new Local News Service announced Wednesday by WFTS owner E.W. Scripps Co. and WTVT’s parent Fox Television Stations.

Like the recent agreement by the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald to operate a single bureau in Tallahassee, the LNS unites typically rival newsrooms to avoid duplicating effort.

Press-conference  “If you look at a TV newscast, you might see 10 different (station logos) on the microphones at a press conference,” said Sharri Berg, senior vice president of news operations for Fox TV Stations, WTVT’s owner. “The LNS crews can cover those events, allowing stations to focus on more distinctive content, like investigative pieces and enterprise stories.”

In one scenario, the two Tampa stations could contribute employees to a 10-person LNS staff, including a managing editor, three assigning editors and six photographers — no on-air reporters or anchors, Berg said.

That group, which would work independently from offices inside their old stations, would go to standard news events each station once covered individually — say, the regular post-game press conference by a sports coach or a mayoral ribbon-cutting. The resulting video would be available to both stations to use as they desire.

And though officials involved expect the LNS to expand coverage at each station, the first casualty locally may be WTVT’s helicopter, which Berg said would be eliminated as both stations move to share the aircraft currently operated by WFTS.

Berg also hoped other local stations would eventually join in the partnership to further share costs.


Click below to read the press release:

Stations in Detroit, Phoenix and Tampa to Pool General Market News Footage

Fox Television Stations and The E.W. Scripps Company have created a local news service for the companies’ stations in Detroit, Phoenix and Tampa with plans to include other partners in each of the markets. 

Beginning in April 2009, the service will pool content-gathering resources at general market news events, allowing the stations to save on duplicate efforts.  By reducing costs, the stations will be able to increase their focus and resources on specialized franchise reporting.  The stations will continue to operate independently in all other respects of their businesses, including newsgathering operations.

Commenting on the agreement, Jack Abernethy, chief executive officer, Fox Television Stations, Inc., stated, “We are pleased to be working with Scripps, a company that faces reality, makes quick decisions and understands what it takes to keep local television robust and independent.”

The news service management will autonomously identify the stories to be covered each day and make arrangements to collect and deliver the video back to each of the participating stations.  Each station will then decide how to use the video adding their own reporting and editorial style. 

“This news service will allow our existing staff to cover even more local news across multiple platforms,” said Brian Lawlor, Scripps’ senior vice president of television, “and we’ll now have the resources to deliver that content with deeper storytelling and richer context.”

Content produced by the local news service can be used across multiple platforms, including over-the-air broadcasts, and online and mobile reporting.  All employees involved in the shared operation will remain employees of their respective news organizations.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:56pm]


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