B&C: Investigative Reporting Resurgent in Local News

By Merrill Knox 

Broadcasting & Cable takes a look (subscription required) today at the resurgent state of investigative journalism in local newsrooms. Three years after the financial collapse, which hit local stations especially hard, B&C finds the conditions of the media landscape are prime for new teams of investigative reporters and producers:

A handful of media trends pave the way for stations to reinvigorate their investigative efforts. First, the sorry state of newspapers, which have lost 30% of their workforce since 2000 according to the Pew Research Center’s recent “State of the Media” survey, opens the door for stations to pick up enterprise reporting slack. The same survey showed local TV is the “outlet of choice” for 55% of respondents, far more than the Internet (16%) and newspapers (14%).

There is no shortage of stories about government waste and civic corruption, but with print newsrooms often a shell of their former selves, there may be a shortage of reporters there to ferret them out. “There are stories to be told. There are things that go on that need to be covered,” said Bob Sullivan, VP of content at Scripps. “If we’re not doing it, then who will?”


And while every station is feeling the squeeze of a shaky economy and a corporate parent that wants more done with less, local TV will get some $2.5-$3.3 billion in political spending between now and next November, according to Kantar Media/ CMAG. While that revenue is already baked into current budgets, the more enterprising broadcasters will allocate some of that for their I-teams.