Former WPIX News Director Gives Tips on Building A Successful News Operation

By Kevin Eck 

control roomMark Effron, who was news director at WPIX in New York until October, has written a piece for TVNewsCheck giving advice on how to build a successful news operation.

Effron has worked at everything from VP of News for Graham Media (Post-Newsweek) to EP of a show on public radio. “Each of those positions afforded me the opportunity to look at content and presentation and distribution through a changing series of lenses,” said Effron.

In the article, he gives 13 tips. Here are his Top Five:


1. As ever, know your audience. The days of one-size-fits-all journalism are over. Targeting journalism for a public radio audience, as I did for The Takeaway is no different in concept than targeting journalism for a local news audience.

2. Spend good money on good research. Don’t go cheap. Micro-targeted research is much better than off-the-rack research.

3. Know when to ignore said research. As helpful and insightful as good research can be, providing a potential road map of how to get to your destination, don’t ever let research replace your experience and your gut. If you think local investigative reporting will benefit your audience, don’t look to research to validate that belief.

4. Sometimes, simple things can make a big difference. We had a brilliant digital leader, but his team wasn’t where the action was — the assignment desk. Once we rectified that, we instantly saw movement on digital numbers.

5. Go after your weakest competition. When I worked for Post-Newsweek in Detroit back in the ’80s, that meant going after the No. 2 station in essentially a three-station news market. But New York in 2014 was different and way more complex. WABC still ruled the roost, but there was a muddled middle beneath WABC. Fox was dominant in the mornings, but less so in the evenings. By making improvements in journalism, presentation and talent; by being aggressive on breaking news; and by super-serving our core audience, we were able to move ourselves into the middle tier faster than we anticipated.

Click here to read the entire piece.