Tegna has been blowing up their newscasts around the country and trying to change the way TV news is presented.
For the most part it has failed and many Tegna stations have seen ratings fall.
But, there is one success story for Tegna and that might be either good or bad news for the other stations in the group.
KUSA, Tegna’s flagship station in Denver, blew up their 6PM newscast and turned into “Next with Kyle Clark.”
It stumbled out of the blocks, but now has become no. 1 in the key demo and continues to pick up speed.
The Cronkite Newslab writes that despite the vertiginous ratings drop, Tegna executives stuck with the format, and Clark stuck with Next’s unorthodox formula.
The show only has a only a handful of reporter packages, which lean towards civics and away from sensationalism. “We’re not going to chase every shiny object just because we can put a helicopter over it,” says Clark, who also serves as Next’s managing editor. The weather person often gets a minute or less, with little or no banter.
Linda Kotsaftis, KUSA’s head of news content, who developed the concept with Clark and still works closely with him, recalls a routine snowfall early in Next’s run when the program devoted just 15 seconds to weather, and she looked up to see the station’s competitors fielding multiple reporters to cover the “storm.” “I was surprised that people didn’t raise their pitchforks and say, ‘Why don’t you have someone standing by the side of the road?’”
The show works in Denver and the main reason is Clark is an exceptional talent that can pull it off.
Tegna has tried other non-traditional newscasts in other markets and they have not worked.
At WUSA, Tegna tried hiring a comedian to Anchor the station’s morning newscast. The show pulled hash marks for almost a year.
The comedian/anchor Reese Waters has nowhere near the talent of Clark and of course, despite the newscast, Clark was and still is a Journalist.
WUSA has seen a small uptick in ratings lately, but that is only since they added Anchor/Journalist Annie Yu to the show.
It seems that DC viewers are more interested in real news and less into a comedian trying to play news anchor.
In other words, what works in Denver, might not work in DC.
WUSA would be wise to wash Waters from the show and let Yu carry the hour solo. WUSA could pull some of the ideas from KUSA, but maybe keep it a bit more news oriented, which the DC viewer seems to want. WUSA could make Annie Yu the Robin Meade of local TV and have another success on their hands.
Tegna’s WTSP (Tampa) has basically thrown all news out the window for their morning newscast and is now doing “Facebook on TV.”
It is failing and will continue to do so.
The success of Kyle Clark and his show might be more bad news than good for Tegna. They look at that think it will work everywhere. It won’t and you also don’t have a talent like Clark sitting inside each Tegna station.
Clark is a rare talent that can make an “unconventional” newscast work.
But just like the local cuisine, each market has different tastes when it comes to news.
What works in Denver, might not not in Atlanta or Buffalo or Tampa.
The sooner Tegna figures that out, the quicker they will get their ratings moving the right direction.
At this point Kyle Clark and his show are a success story, but they are Tegna’s only one.