Viewers have the POWER!

Viewers have the Power! We've always known viewers cast a vote simply by pressing a button on the remote control. TV shows live, and die by the choices viewers make. This time I'm asking for opinions, or a show of hands. It relates to news out of Chicago, but impacts San Diego.

Starting soon four news operations in Chicago will start sharing video. It works like this. TV stations will start pooling resources to cover press conferences, and scheduled news events. In news lingo it's called "a pool feed." One photographer will shoot an event, and share it with the NBC, CBS, Fox, and CW stations in the market. That's right the very same pictures on all four stations.

The move is meant to save money by reducing staff. It maybe unrelated, but the Fox station in Chicago just laid off some employees. The argument from the four stations is, "one for all, all for one." Why should four different cameras show up for a scheduled event? (they say breaking news, and major stories would not be affected by this agreement, and would remain independent)

This was un-thinkable years ago. Every outlet in a city wanted to put thier mark, or voice on each news event. Blame it on the recession, and weak ad sales. These Chicago stations, or "The Four Musketeers," are going ahead with the project. However we have one dissenter.

WLS, the ABC affiliate in Chicago doesn't want to enter into the partnership. That station's management wants to remain a solid independent voice in that market. The news director at WLS says "individual photography is essential for telling a complete story." My question is, "are we headed into an era of pre-fab cookie-cutter news?" Many folks say we are already there.

San Diego stations are sharing helicopter video. Sure, why do we need five choppers up in the sky taking the same traffic shot. Channel 10 and 6 in town are already working on a video sharing agreement much like the one in Chicago. Its not uncommon for stations to share some pictures, but they're actually coordinating pool coverage on press conferences, and scheduled events.

All of this raises some big questions for viewers. Are citizens best served by this agreement? How can we guarantee an independent voice in news coverage? Many vieweers say all local newscasts look-a-like. Now the video sharing idea proves it, and makes sure you'll see the exact same video on every station. I believe viewers want stories that stand apart. They want news that is different in content, and scope from other local channels, news that's customized for them.

Some says that unless viewers care the practice will grow. I believe that viewers still hold the power, and can vote by simply selecting the news they want to watch. They can also voice an opinion on this blog.

Find additional articles by