And we’re back.. well sort of: WNBC and what’s news.

4 Dec

…their hasn’t been much lately that has inspired me to jump on the blog. News was feeling a bit over-reported, trending vision has been a bit stagnant and as usual the ad and digital marketing trades have been recycling the same old stories. That and I needed to figure out how to make some money going into next year as several income streams were coming to a close. News was getting old and it was time to roll up my sleeves, get back in the trenches and make some money.

Apparently WNBC news felt the same:

— Over the summer, many of the station’s off-mic employees were told that their positions were being eliminated but that they could apply to be part of a new team of “content producers” feeding the main station as well as a planned 24/7 digital channel.

–Battered by the economy, NBC Universal parent GE, not to mention station owners such as News Corp., Tribune and Sinclair, are watching closely to see if Gotham will provide a survival guide for local news.

— seasoned, Emmy-winning cameramen and writers are now out in the field reporting or writing, and vice versa. Crews no longer pile into satellite trucks to chase a police shooting in Queens. A single “content producer” grabs a high-end camcorder and a notepad and heads to the scene.

— Two changes in particular have made heads spin — one is the systematic retraining of the staff. The other is a pool arrangement with Fox.

News vets and staffers have cringed, journalist old-timers scoff and unions cry foul over the move. They presume the death of journalism (inline with Andrew Keen’s commentary here) and creating product not news…”They don’t call Cheez-Whiz ‘cheese’ on the package; they call it a ‘cheese product’,” said one survivor. “What’s going to be produced here isn’t really news. It’s a news product. And you have to wonder what will happen when a major story breaks and you have someone from a small market who was cheap enough to hire.”

My opinion? The naysayers are missing the big picture. The news has changed, it has to be product. Packaged for disaggregated distribution much like broadcast executives have discovered with some enlightened views of television programming distribution via the internet and beyond a tv time slot. Newspapers are doing the same via a variety of new technologies. Citizen journalism, blogging, localized cable news and freelance journalist using the internet to create networks that challenge the Associated Press. This all points to a trend of leaner, meaner journalism that’s has quality product AND is also packaged through distribution. Networked and shared through collaboration and partnerships – sometimes even with the competition.

The WNBC move may not be the innovation that reinvents their business. And sadly it will leave many looking for work in a tough market. But in a rough economic climate and hugely disrupted marketplace one has to change the game. Innovate, deconstruct and rebuild. Get back in the game.

So they will be back on the air doing new things. And so will I ;) Stay tuned.

For more commentary on the disaggregation of news check it these posts by Jeff, Dave Morgan and Dave Whiner.