Four of Chicago’s television stations, beginning Monday, are entering into a newsgathering collective where the stations will share eight pooled camera crews to cover local news events.
But Emily Barr, GM at ABC-owned WLS, is having none of it. She told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lewis Lazare that “she instinctively felt the new venture would strip WLS of some, if not all, of what the station most zealously seeks to safeguard: its image as an independent Chicago news operation.”
For the stations that have signed on, though, the agreement is not only a way to “cover more news” the “perfunctory” press conferences and other such events where five competing camera crews really could be seen as redundant. (Read more after the jump…)
It’s also, says WBBM (CBS) news director Jeff Kiernan, a way to spend more time in the communities the stations cover.
“We can take those crews that would have been covering a press conference and go out into the neighborhoods to cover other things that will help distinguish our newscasts from the competition,” he told Lazare.
Sounds like Fox-owned WFLD won’t be doing any of that, though. Instead, the station laid off six newsroom employees and cut 12 long-term temporary employees.
So is it realistic for WBBM to think they can take their extra resources in order to do more news, while competitors are struggling? “Every station will determine whatever efficiencies are best for them,” Kiernan told us. “For WBBM, our goal is to maximize all of our resources while at the same time contributing to the pool…With or without a pool arrangement, television stations, newspapers, every media outlet is evaluating how they operate.”
We reached out to the other three stations in the pool but didn’t hear back as of the time of this posting.