New Jersey’s largest cities sit so close to New York and Philadelphia, that they, along with the rest of the Garden State’s nearly nine million residents have basically been cut and pasted into the DMA maps of the two major cities across the state’s border.
While the stations in the largest and fourth largest TV markets in the country cover New Jersey, Garden State residents looking for news focused solely on their state have few choices.
But recently NJTV, New Jersey’s public TV network operated by New York’s WNET, revamped its existing news product and has added its voice to the two other outlets based in New Jersey, FOX owned WWOR with “Chasing New Jersey” and WMGM, the Southern New Jersey NBC affiliate.
TVSpy asked Phil Alongi, Jr. the executive producer of “NJTV News with Mike Schneider” what it means for the Garden State to have its own news product reaching into all of the state’s 21 counties, especially with viewers of WMGM fearing for its future after the station was sold to LocusPoint Networks.
“On election night, we had 14 live remotes from all across the state, live speeches plus interviews with two former Governors and a panel of experts,”Alongi said. “Nobody even came close to that.”
Viewers rely on local news stations to do more than weather and traffic updates. Local stations are also expected to keep and eye on elected officials, something no station can expect to do well across multiple state lines. “I think you see it across the country where television outlets have shrunk their statehouse coverage, for example. Politicians are all too happy to let things slip through the cracks. Our bread and butter is probably politics and government. Decision makers from the governor’s office to the legislature and local governments watch us every night to get the latest.”
NJTV also can venture into lost territory for local commercial affiliates: longer format stories. “We trust that our audience has a long enough attention span to sit through a story that runs more than two minutes,” said Alongi. “We take the time to provide context and don’t give short shrift to details that help add color and depth. And frankly, that’s our mission in public television: to cover our state in-depth and without bias.”
Alongi added so far viewer reaction to the reboot has been positive, “They know that we are in Jersey, for Jersey!”