Alan Henney said what others clearly felt: something’s changed–and not for the better–at WUSA/DC. “We are doing less news gathering these days and more information posting,” Henney writes in a memo to the WUSA news staff posted on DCRTV. “Somebody needs to be driving the news machine at all times, actively pursuing news leads. We’ve lost our focus.”
WUSA, as most who follow the evolution of local TV news already know, recently replaced traditional news crews with one-man-bands, and converted its newsroom into an “information center” devoted to fast-paced, multiplatform news production: getting the story told fast, in a variety of ways, from Twitter, to blogging, and sometimes even on a regular old newscast.
Henney, a weekend assignment editor at Channel 9, says the “shock and awe” digital campaign has come at a cost in the most basic of places: doing the news. “WUSA frequently lacks the discussion that is vital to the success of a vibrant news operation and falls into this model. Many of us are reluctant to say anything, and the suggestion box on the first floor is not enough. The consultants and out-of-touch corporate management have ruined the newscasts with repetitive Web clutter, endless sidebar packages, and their preoccupation with the Internet. You won’t find a blog anywhere that will generate enough revenue to support a news operation of this size, there are simply too many. We’ve heard regular speak of “Web Winners,” but what ever happened to the “News Winners?” A dying breed?”
Henney’s letter has sparked a massive debate on the dcrtv site, and among DC local newsers. It’s an important discussion, and sadly sparked by a man who felt his only option was to walk out, leaving the weekend desk after nearly a decade. “Any corporation that allows employees to blog as an excuse for not reporting to work on time is not an organization with which I want to be associated. Effective immediately, I am placing myself on permanent furlough from the Gannett Corp,” he wrote.
DC newsers: if you’ve watched the content coming from the Info Center, do you agree? Has WUSA traded reporting for Twittering? Can stations successfully do both?