Tag Archives: ABC

KXTV Reporter Finds Offbeat Stories On Backroads

John Bartell

John Bartell

“I find these weird, quirky stories on California’s backroads,” says John Bartell, a reporter at Tegna’s ABC affil KXTV Sacramento,and the guy behind Bartell’s Backroads.

You might find Bartell’s stories on the side of the road, but more likely off the beaten path.

“I’m on one story and something catches my eye,” is how Bartell describes how he finds his stories.

Haven’t you ever been driving down the road and you see something unusual, and wonder to yourself, what’s the story with that? That’s what Bartell does, tells the backstory.

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KXTV’s Teacher Series Wins State Teachers Award

KXTV, Tegna’s ABC affiliate in Sacramento, Calif., earned the highest honor given by the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) for its Teacher of the Month campaign.

The John Swett Award honors excellence in education reporting and this is the fourth consecutive year KXTV has been its recipient.

The awards honor individuals, publications, websites, television and radio stations for their outstanding achievements in reporting and interpreting public education issues.

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WFTV’s Major Donation To 1,000 Anonymous People

TV stations routinely contribute to their communities in a myriad of ways. Food drives, grants to nonprofits, telethons to help disaster victims, clothing drives for the poor, pet adoption campaigns, and so many other programs that help either individuals or large segments of people in their markets.

But recently, a new idea used by some stations is being adopted; paying off medical bills for people in their markets.

I first heard about this when KIRO, the CBS affiliate in Seattle owned by Cox, relieved the burden of more than $1 million in medical debt owed by 1,000 people in Western Washington.

A few months later, the NBC/Telemundo stations announced their goal to abolish $1 billion of medical debt in 2018 for people in their markets.

The efforts all seem to work the same way. The stations purchase $1 million worth of medical debt from RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit tackling the medical debt crisis in the country, for about $12,000.

Todd Ulrich

WFTV, Orlando’s ABC affiliate, and like KIRO in Seattle, owned by Cox, is paying off $1 million of medical debt for 1,000 people.

Those individuals, whose identity remains anonymous to WFTV, will receive a letter in the mail informing them that their debt has been paid.

Todd Ulrich, WFTV’s consumer investigator, has been uncovering the complicated system under which medical debt can be sold to collection agencies.

“The debt is often sold multiple times and for pennies on the dollar,” said Ulrich.

“But the balance owed can grow at 12% interest. Under that scenario the debt almost doubles in just six years, which forces some of our most vulnerable neighbors into extreme hardship.”

Matt Parcell

“Todd Ulrich has been making a difference in the lives of Central Floridians for decades,” said Matt Parcell, WFTV’s news director.

“This is some of the most impactful reporting he and Channel 9 have ever done.”

Since the story aired and was posted online, there has been an extraordinary response by viewers wanting to assist neighbors in need.

As a result, WFTV has created a donation page on wftv.com that allows members of the community to make donations toward paying off medical debt for individuals across Central Florida.

Regional Murrow Awards Wrap-Up, 9 Markets

I’ve created a monster. Namely, writing about TV stations that won the various regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

I have already shared dozens. But I can’t share all of them.

I do like to spotlight award-winning work, whether it’s news promotion or news coverage examples, as I believe looking at work deemed excellent by a jury of our peers helps everyone improve their craft.

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Graham Media Stations Win 5 Regional Murrow Awards

Graham Media Group TV stations in Detroit, Orlando and Jacksonville earned a total of five Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

“It is especially gratifying to see the hard work and dedication of our local newsrooms recognized with such a prestigious award,” said Emily Barr, Graham’s president.

Region 7, Large Market Television (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)
WDIV Breaking News Coverage
Severe Weather Alert: Record Wind Damage

WDIV Excellence in Writing:
Failure in Flint (show open), Kim Adams Cancer Fight, and Elliot Carter

WDIV Excellence in Sound
What’s Old is New Again

Region 13, Large Market Television, (Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands)
WJXT Breaking News Coverage
Hurricane Irma

WKMG Best Website

WCVB Wins 8 National Headline Awards

WCVB, Boston’s ABC affiliate owned by Hearst, won eight National Headliner Awards for outstanding journalism.

Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry.

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WMAR Rebrands To Focus On Maryland Roots

WMAR, Baltimore’s ABC affiliate owned by Scripps, is changing all of its branding to WMAR-2 News, Working For You.

A statement from the station says the move is “intended to underscore their long-standing focus on Maryland and its people,” harkening back to its early days as a pioneer in local television.

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Unique Content Puts WJBK First On Facebook

This week’s Social Scorecard stops at the Motor City to explore how WJBK is able to hold off its competition on Facebook with local news content that is mostly exclusive to the station.

Fox’s Detroit O&O led in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.

But it’s a highly competitive race as only about 5,000 actions separate WJBK from the second-place station, WXYZ, the market’s ABC affiliate owned by Scripps.

WJBK has more than 4.6 million actions on social, 23% of the total engagement generated by the DMA (No. 14), with more than 19.8 million social actions.

WJBK also led in actions per post with 500.

WDIV, the NBC affiliate owned by Graham Media Group led the market on Instagram with more than 123,000 actions.

The Detroit Free Press, a daily newspaper owned by Digital First Media, dominated on Twitter with more than 232,000 actions.

Jay Dillon

Jay Dillon, WJBK’s senior web producer, says the station has a big newsroom staff that produces a large amount of news per day, but not all of it works on Facebook.

“We look for the local news that our audience is interested in. We are very in tune with what our audience is engaged with; what stories will drive traffic. We just push our local content first and foremost.”

Dillon admits that what’s successful on Facebook is different every day, every week, especially since the changes Facebook made recently in its algorithms which downplays posts by publishers to emphasize content by friends and family.

What’s he’s finding in the last month or so that works “is unique content that only we are creating.”

Like the story that came to the station through a tip from one of its Facebook followers.

“There was a story we did first about a family who had an elderly member of their family that had been abused in a nursing home. They had video, they brought it to us, because they wanted us to do a story about it. That was our most popular story on our website. It was also one of the most popular stories on our Facebook page that month. So that’s what we’re looking for. Not just what our competition is reporting, because we’re all going to have that. But the more successful stuff is that unique content.”

That focus on unique content exclusive to WJBK also extends to how the station uses Facebook Live.

Kellie Rowe

“We have a program that’s called Fox 2 News Now,” says Dillon, “and we have a special setup where one of our web producers will go online. We want to have a way for people to find more about the content that they’re going to ask questions about. We’ll prepare stories for our website because every Facebook post that we do, we want to have a link back to our website.”

Dillon says that the segment, hosted by reporter Kellie Rowe, doesn’t go on Facebook Live at a designated time, but rather as news breaks.

“When there’s something live, we’re going. We’re going to be on live, and Kellie will be there to kind of moderate things. We have a lot of success, especially in February, with our Larry Nassar coverage.”

Nassar was the USA Gymnastics team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University who was convicted of being a serial child molester.

Dillon says court cases in general get high engagement, comments, and shares because people pass judgement one way or the other.

WJBK’s morning team does a Facebook Live segment called The Doctor’s In, where they take questions on Facebook Live and then answer them on TV.

“It’s kind of a little bit of synergy of bringing our TV back to Facebook and vice versa,” says Dillon.

Another feature of the morning news is a two-hour show called The 9, which incorporates user comments.

“It’s on from 9 a.m. to 11. It’s an engaging show. Our talent are on their social media pages. They interact with their audience, also with our station page as well.”

Overall, Dillon views Facebook as an experiment.

“Every post, every day, every week is just like: OK, what’s working, what’s not working? In the end, it’s the same thing I’ve been saying since I started here four years ago: local news works.

“People rely on us to be their source. When we have a major event, like we had a meteor crash here in January, and our Facebook numbers, our web numbers, were through the roof for the story, because people wanted to know what was going on. People weren’t going for a national source. They were coming to us because we have developed and earned their trust that what we’re going to post is what we know, and what we know to be accurate. So above everything else, we want to be accurate, we want to be trustworthy, and that’s where we stand.”

WTAE Takes Viewers On Patrol With Police

WTAE, Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate owned by Hearst, is airing a one-hour special covering the dangers and struggles facing small-town police departments in Western Pennsylvania.

Chronicle: To Protect & Serve airs Friday night at 10.

The special puts viewers in the car, on the streets and shoulder-to-shoulder with police officers from four communities to examine the growing conflict between police and the public, and the uphill battle for departments to heal the wounds of distrust.

Viewers will also see the pain that cascades across communities when an officer is killed in the line of duty.

“In a time when the relationship between citizens and law enforcement has become so complex, it’s imperative for us, as journalists, to explore all sides,” said Jim Parsons, WTAE’s news director.

“Thanks to four local police departments that granted us access, viewers will get an unvarnished, candid look at their difficult work.”


Stephen Arnold Adds New Song To ‘Everywhere I Go’

Sonic branding specialist Stephen Arnold Music has added a new song to its Everywhere I Go audio/video image campaign.

The new tune is a catchy, pop-oriented version featuring a female lead vocal, and an alternative version that pairs her rich voice with a rock-edged guitar, real bass and drums.

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