V&W: As A West Coaster, “I Love The Idea;” As A Producer, “I Don’t See Its Necessity”

By Brian 

In an e-mail to TVNewser, a “retired network news hand” who lives on the West Coast comments on yesterday’s opinions about WNT’s Western Edition:

“The West Coast feed has been done before, with tailored content and without it. The reality of a west coast feed is that it is expensive. To keep a studio crew on duty, to keep anchors and writers on hand until 10pm eastern time. And out of 20 weekdays in a month, the news might need to be updated once or twice. So do you have your anchors hang around to re-read the copy when nothing happens, and how many nights do you think the anchors will quietly pass the times, when nothing changes? They will be the first to push for the end of the noble experiment. You’re dealing with 13 stations in the Pacific time zone. That’s it. And please, no Hollywood stories unless they merit the full broadcast.”

He continues: “Back in the 80s under Van Gordon Sauter, CBS did a western edition of the Evening News with Terry Drinkwater in Los Angeles. After a few months, the western edition became very infrequent and died not long after Drinkwater passed away. As for the issue of territorial content — that’s the wrong way to go. I watch the evening news for a national newscast, not a west coast newscast. That’s a lesson that goes back to the first time The New York Times printed a national edition. Its first distribution point was Chicago, and in the beginning, they put a bunch of Chicago and midwest stories into the paper that did not appear in the NY edition. The two problems with that approach is that the Tribune and the Sun-Times do the Chicage/Midwest coverage better. More importantly, people in Chicago (or for that matter anywhere else) buy the paper because it is The NEW YORK Times. They want that flavor, not another local newspaper. As a west coaster, I personally love the idea of a fresh broadcast for this time zone. As a practical journalist and television producer, I don’t see its necessity on most nights.”