Whenever there are cuts at TV stations, franchises and 'extras' are usually the first to go. GM's always put pressure on the news department to reduce head count and save money.
According to a recent story in the Washington Post, local television news is still the most popular choice for information, but millennials say Facebook is also a major source. The fight for audience couldn't be more intense.
One company that's dumping huge resources into investigative units, is NBC. NBC O&O president Valari Staab is a huge fan of I-Teams and has committed a significant amount of money to the group's news operations to beef up staff.
Let's face it; without significant promotable stories, there's not much reason to turn on local news.