Is the Absence of Beat Reporting Killing Local TV?

By Andrew Gauthier 

The absence of a traditional beat reporting system in newsrooms is hurting local stations–at least that’s the assertion of a new piece from TVNewsCheck, which points out that just one in 10 local TV newsrooms currently operate with beat systems.

“Those formal beats under which TV newsrooms used to operate are fast disappearing at the majority of stations,” writes TVNewsCheck’s Diana Marszalek. “And the dismantling of the system may be taking broadcast journalism down with it.”

Over the past decade, stations around the country, faced with fewer resources and a changing media landscape, have changed the way their newsrooms are organized–focusing more on breaking news stories like severe weather and less on discovering a story through dedicated research and reporting:

The concept of reporters spending the bulk of their time working a beat for stories, often coming up empty handed, would be considered a luxury at best and an impossibility by many.

Jerry Gumbert, CEO of AR&D, a local media strategy firm, tells Marszalek that the absence of beat reporting is “catastrophic” because it “dictates that we can only do superficial or reactive storytelling.”

So, what do you think?  Is the absence of beat reporting killing local TV?  Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below…