Nexstar Media’s fledging cable news channel NewsNation is already having some issues.
Despite its mission to serve as an impartial alternative to other cable news channels, The New York Times reported this past Sunday that some staffers have expressed concerns about editorial direction and the involvement of Bill Shine after the former Fox News co-president and former Trump administration official joined the Chicago-based outlet in February, and that multiple top editors have quit in response.
Chicago media reporting guru Robert Feder reported Tuesday that Jennifer Lyons, NewsNation vp of news who joined NewsNation after a successful run at Chicago’s WGN-TV, has resigned. This move came shortly after news director Sandy Pudar and managing editor Richard Maginn stepped down as well.
“Jennifer Lyons has decided to leave her position as vice president of news at NewsNation,” Nexstar Media Group said in a statement. “We thank her for her efforts in spearheading the launch of NewsNation and we wish her success in whatever she does next. We have begun a search for her replacement and hope to have that person in place quickly.
“While the search moves forward, Nexstar’s executive vice president of station operations and content development, Blake Russell, assisted by members of our local content development team, will be responsible for overseeing NewsNation.”
At Tuesday’s staff meeting in Chicago, according to NYT, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook sought to reassure staff of his commitment to NewsNation.
“Despite reports to the contrary that you may read, we’re committed to the vision of unbiased reporting,” he said during the meeting, according to a recording of the comments obtained by The New York Times. “But obviously along the way there will be growing pains. In order for us to establish our product and to grow our viewership we’re going to have to try new things to gain some traction.”
Nexstar acquired WGN America in September 2019 as part of its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune. WGN America had been a cable entertainment network before the launch of a three-hour prime time cable news block (NewsNation) on Sept. 1, 2020. Nexstar staffed the NewsNation newscast primarily with employees of Nexstar’s Chicago station WGN-TV Channel 9.
Fast forward to March 1, Nexstar rebrands the WGN America channel as NewsNation, expanding the live news programming to five hours in the evenings (6-11 p.m. ET), with the possibility of expanding to news in the mornings and dayside hours, and launching new shows like a prime time talk program hosted by Ashleigh Banfield.
Headquartered in Texas, NewsNation’s owner Nexstar is the largest broadcast company in the country, and the cable news channel has access to 115 local newsrooms across its 197 TV stations, and 5,400 journalists. NewsNation is available in more than 75 million homes.
The infrastructure is there, but the ratings have not been. We’ll see if that changes anytime soon, but there seems to be trouble in paradise for the time being.