A mandate has been sent down to the Nexstar stations that by the end of August, all news departments must allocate 20% of their staff to “Digital First.”
Sources inside Nexstar says that CEO Perry Sook is pushing the news departments into “Digital First” and the company is using strict guidelines to do so. This move is only the first step.
Sook sees the future in digital and he is forcing stations to start moving that direction. If a station has say 10 Reporters, 2 of those Reporters will soon be assigned to digital only and likely will not appear on the station’s air.
According to one Nexstar insider, stations are not creating new positions by adding staff, they are being asked to reallocate staff to the digital first initiative.
The corporate office knows that the move will put a strain on news departments on air product, but are hoping to see the digital of side of things to improve dramatically.
As ad dollars leave TV and go to online, Nexstar wants to be sure they are in a good position to grab that online spending.
As for FTVLive, we like the fact that Sook is looking to the future and not trying to keep breathing life into TV news which is seeing viewers tuning out in record numbers.
That being said, Nexstar (and all other TV groups) need to take a look at the structure of their stations websites.
There is not a single media group that has what we would call a “solid” website platform.
Throwing more people into digital is a smart move, but Nexstar needs to work on the station’s template that those people are posting on.
The other thing will be getting people coming into this business to sign onto digital first. What happens when a station says they are hiring you as a Reporter, but you will never or rarely make an appearance on the station’s air?
Will the “I want to be on TV” person accept that job?
That remains to be seen.
Also, another possible problem is at this will clearly spread the on air station’s staff thin, many News Directors might assign the weakest people in the newsroom to the “digital first” staff.
That means that the stations online effort could be carried out by the weakest people currently working in the newsroom. That in-itself could be a big stumbling block.
We applaud Nexstar and Perry Sook for focusing on the future, but we have a feeling it might be a very bumpy transition to “digital first.”