Tag Archives: WXIA

Stories That Touch Hearts Turns Gold For Tegna

Where does true innovation come from?

Often it’s as simple as bringing together some smart people and allowing them free range to present ideas and brainstorm.

Heart Threads began that way, born at a Tegna summit where new ideas for TV and digital were being discussed.

It started when someone wondered if the “feel-good” stories many Tegna stations were producing for their respective Facebook pages could be exposed to a larger audience.

Read On

Tegna Investigates Disappearance Of Little Boy

DeOrr Kuntz, Jr.

It’s the kind of story you might see on a national network magazine show like Dateline, 20/20 or 48 Hours.

Or even the multi-part documentaries you might binge watch on Netflix.

A cold case following the disappearance of Deorr Kuntz Jr., a 2-year-old boy, while on a camping trip with his family in Idaho.

A real who-done-it mystery of a toddler who went missing without a trace.

What happened to him? Did an animal attack him? Was he abducted? Or did something else more sinister cause him to vanish?

Read On

Enter Your Station For Service To America Awards

Did your TV station provide exemplary service to your community through a campaign, project or program that served the public good?

It’s time to be recognized nationally for those outstanding efforts by entering the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF) 2018 Celebration of Service to America Awards.

Winners will be recognized at the 20th annual Celebration of Service to America Awards gala held Tuesday, June 12, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington.

The awards program, now in its 20th year, has established new categories based on market size.

• Broadcast Ownership Group
• Large/Major Market (TV DMAs 1-50, Radio Markets 1-50)
• Medium Market (TV DMAs 51-100, Radio Markets 51-150)
• Small Market (TV DMAs 101-210, Radio Markets 151-300)

Entries must be submitted by March 9. Additional information on awards criteria and entry rules are available here.

Here’s a video compiled from the 2017 Celebration of Service to America Award.

Here are some of the 2017 winners:

2017, President’s Special Award
WXIA (NBC, Tegna), Atlanta

The NABEF President’s Special Award was presented to Tegna’s WXIA Atlanta. “Charlie Foxtrot” began as an investigation of military policy that stripped service members with certain mental health conditions of their benefits and veteran status. These reports were ultimately aired in 46 cities across the U.S. and culminated with a screening with members of Congress just three days before the Fairness for Veterans Act was passed.

2017, Service to America Award
WDIV (NBC, Graham), Detroit

The 2017 Service to America Award for Television was presented to WDIV in Detroit in recognition of the station’s year-round commitment to excellence in serving its local community. Through news coverage, philanthropy and community service, WDIV puts the needs of viewers first.

2017, Children’s Award for Television
WMUR (ABC, Hearst), Manchester, N.H.

The need for foster and permanent homes for New Hampshire children is greater than ever, attributed in large part to the opioid crisis. Since 2014, WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle has featured “Home at Last,” a recurring series of segments with the goal of finding permanent adoptive homes for the more than 700 children in New Hampshire living in out-of-home placement.

2017, Service to Community Award for Television
WRAL (NBC, Capitol Broadcasting), Raleigh, N.C.

The rising tensions in the relationship between police departments and African American communities in Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville, N.C., inspired WRAL’s Black and Blue documentary. The program became part of an unprecedented two-hour community conversation on air, online and on social media.

UPDATE: KSDK Exposes Selling Girls For Sex

I got an email from Erin Gutierrez, an executive producer at WXIA,, Tegna’s NBC affiliate in Atlanta, concerning yesterday’s column titled, KSDK Exposes World Of Under-aged Girls For Sex.

In it she wrote that “KSDK is one of the many Tegna stations taking part in this national investigation. However, the pieces you’ve highlighted are part of a joint effort between WXIA in Atlanta and KHOU in Houston.”

According to a press release Gutierrez sent, Selling Girls is a six-part digital, episodic series investigating sex trafficking of children in America.”

The series is produced by investigative news teams from WXIA and KHOU. On-air coverage began October 22.

“Local journalism has the power to shine a light on national issues through a focused lens,” said Ellen Crooke, Tegna’s VP of news. “We hope that Selling Girls educates and informs our audiences and helps reverse the course of human trafficking in this country.”

Click here to see the entire series.

Turning Facebook Users Into TV News Watchers

facebook-vs-tvTV stations face a dilemma every time they post on their Facebook page.

Should they give away free news to users on Facebook who want it now, or use Facebook to drive users to their other screens that pay the bills, like their websites or newscasts?

I follow many TV stations’ Facebook posts, and have interviewed many local TV executives about their use of Facebook for a weekly series called Social Scorecard on TVNewsCheck‘s sister site NetNewsCheck.

And almost universally, they mention this struggle between giving users free news and/or enticing users to go to the stations’ other screens, where there’s revenue.

Many stations report that upwards of 70% of their web traffic comes directly from Facebook.

And although it’s difficult to tie increased news ratings on TV directly to Facebook, many stations say they see a relationship.

So how are stations using their Facebook pages to get their fans to watch on TV, or go to their website?

Here are some random examples I found from the stations I follow on Facebook. By the way, if you want me to like/follow your station’s Facebook page, email me the link at [email protected].

It’s the November ratings period, so many stations are using Facebook to promote special reports for their TV newscasts.

In some cases, the Facebook promo is the same as the TV promo. But in many cases, the Facebook promo is different since it needs to be effective without any audio, as it’s been reported that 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound turned off.

I looked for posts that had a clear “call to action” to watch in either the post or the promo.

Read On


Screen+Shot+2016-03-31+at+2_49_24+PMUsually, a TV station creates a promo when they hire someone. I’ve never seen a promo about someone being fired, but I’d like to.

And no doubt about it, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a news promo about someone not being fired.

635881344187386218-tegna-foundation-11alivePublished rumors that WXIA’s Chief Meteorologist Chris Holcomb had been fired are so not true, according to the station. WXIA is the NBC affiliate in Atlanta owned by Tegna.

It seems a computer snafu along with an ad seeking a new meteorologist for the station led to an assumption by one publication that Holcomb had been fired.

Apparently the rumors were so persistent that the station felt the need to create a promo about it.

It seems this all started with a tweet early Thursday morning.

“The tweet said, ‘@ChrisHolcomb, I hope this isn’t true’, and there was a link to a story suggesting I’d been fired,” Holcomb said. “Even though I was 99% sure that it wasn’t true, I started sweating a little bit.”

Apparently his bio had disappeared from the station’s website, 11Alive.com, due to some new software being installed. Like any software update, there are bugs and some bios got sent to internet outer space.

“If you work on the cutting edge, sometimes you’re going to bleed,” said Julie Wolfe, WXIA’s social media director.

So, Chris Holcomb is so not fired.

“I knew that,” Holcomb said. “Well, I was pretty sure.”

WXIA Leads Tegna’s Shakeup Of Local News Formula

picture-5The model of how local TV news is marketed and created hasn’t changed much over the years.

Stations run promos on their air pushing viewers to watch the newscasts on television.

Image promos highlight overall strengths of the news operation while topical promos tease the next newscasts’ content, and their minute-and-a-half or two-minute packages.

what on tvDuring sweeps, stations up the ante — more marketing outlets like radio are added promoting special reports that are slightly longer form investigations on emerging topics.

Viewership is measured, and the process repeats itself.

Meanwhile, network viewership erodes slightly every year and local news viewers get older and older.

Yet, ironically, when you walk into a local TV newsroom, you see it’s dominated by young people except for the seasoned anchors and executive staff.

So is there a better way to recruit news viewers, especially younger viewers, without being dependent on network broadcasting, without sticking to the formulaic method of story-telling, and most dramatic of all, without even putting the content on television?

Ellen Crooke

Ellen Crooke

“Everybody has talked for years about trying to change the formulaic product that we produce,” said Ellen Crooke, Tegna’s VP of news, “and Tegna is devoted in 2016 that we’re going to do something about it.”

635881344187386218-tegna-foundation-11aliveAnd what Tegna has done about it can be seen on WXIA, Tegna’s NBC affiliate in Atlanta. But not in WXIA’s newscasts, at least not yet, but only on its website, www.11alive.com.

“It’s been six days, since it premiered digitally,” said Crooke in a phone call earlier this week, “and it has not yet been on television.”

The “it” Crooke refers to is a four-part investigative series called, Inside the Triangle, a six-week investigation into heroin usage and overdoses among young people in the affluent suburbs of Atlanta, pinpointed geographically inside a defined area that forms a triangle.

Read On

WGCL News Adds 10 Former Competitors For ‘Just A Minute’

CBS46 news logoLast night at 5:56, Meredith’s WGCL Atlnata launched a bold, new feature in its 5 p.m. newscast — Just a Minute — that’s unprecedented in local TV news.

The CBS affiliate is featuring 10 former Atlanta TV anchors and reporters to presenting a one-minute commentary each at 5:56 every weekday afternoon.

(NOTE: One of the Just a Minute team, Amanda Davis, took a leave of absence from the project after being charged with DUI Monday morning.)

The anchors and reporters are well-known and long-standing journalists gathered from WGCL’s competition, but who no longer work for those stations.

“We urge them to be provocative and controversial, says Mark Pimentel, WGCL’s general manager, “so there is no subject that is off limits.”


The Just a Minute team features anchors and reporters from the market’s NBC affiliate WXIA, the Fox affiliate WAGA and the ABC affiliate WSB.

“These are great, well-known journalists,” says Pimentel, “and it’s fun to have them under our roof.”

Pimentel says the idea come to him on a bike ride.

“I had done commentary as a general manager for five years, and it just occurred to me on this bike ride, I’ll get a group of anchors and reporters to do commentaries.”

Pimentel, a former news director at WXIA and executive producer at WSB knew most of the Just a Minute team personally.

“We obviously urge them to take a stand on the issues,” says Pimentel, “we’re interested in them actually having an opinion.”

Cynthia Tinsley, former anchor and reporter for WXIA, says that when Pimentel approached her with the idea, she was intrigued. “I did take a day or two to think about it though,” she says.

Tinsley says she was used to being a journalist, telling both sides of the story. So at first, she was wary about giving her opinion.

“I can talk about things that are newsworthy,” says Tinsley, “but now I can talk about it from my point of view. As a journalist, that’s the opposite of what you usually do.”

Tinsley’s commentary aired last night, the first in the series.

“I think it’s going to add another dimension of storytelling than what’s already being done.”

Mark Pimentel

Mark Pimentel

Pimentel admits that there is a self-serving angle for Just a Minute. “We hope it leads to some sampling,” he says. “We hope it will create some tune-in to see these well-known people and their perspective on critical issues.”

When I asked Tinsley what she hoped viewers would gain from Just a Minute, she says, “I hope viewers get the sense of looking at the news from a different lens. To look at a story and not think in terms of just black and white, but see the shades of grey.”

Pimentel says there is a reason Just a Minute is scheduled and promoted as airing at 5:56 p.m.

“There’s a purpose to it. It’s the last element in the 5 o’clock news, and the 6 o’clock news will start literally coming right out of it.”

“I don’t think we’re used to having healthy debate anymore,” says Tinsley.

“I think we’ve lost the art of that. And I think doing something like this may spark that kind of healthy debate.”

CBS46 News

WXIA’s ‘Got-Cha’ Journalism Featured On Facebook

WXIAI like it when reporters are seen running down the street trying to interview someone who has something to hide. Let’s face it, if you do have something to hide, you’re not going to agree to a nice sit-down with a reporter who has some tough questions to ask, especially when you know she already knows the answers.

This is my idea of what local TV news should be doing, exposing those dark corners where corruption hides and shining light on sweetheart deals. I love it when reporters have done their homework which often means pouring over countless files to find the truth.
If this is your kind of local news, read on.

First off, I live in the Philly area. So how do I know all about this story? I’m Facebook friends with WXIA’s creative services director, Larry Watzman. WXIA is Gannett’s NBC affiliate in Atlanta. Watzman posted this promo on his timeline.

I started clicking around and pretty soon, I’m on WXIA’s website where I see this and several other unedited videos that show WXIA’s investigative reporter collaring officials, asking those tough questions. It’s like I’m on the story with her. This is cool. That’s right, local news can be cool.

I find a whole thread of videos and graphics about this story that only serves to heighten my sense of curiosity.

wxia graphicWhat’s my point? Creating and running a 15-second promo on your air is only one step. It’s expensive to air the promo within commercial inventory, and it plays in and around other commercials.

Facebook, however, is free, limitless, engaging, inclusive and media-rich. The process of gathering news like this can be as interesting, or even more so, than the story itself.

Here’s the finished story. By the way, this aired Thursday night at 11, the first night of the February sweeps.

I’m looking for your February sweeps stories. Click here to find out more.

Cool Yule Promos From Days Of Yore

old xmaqsThese days, the major networks supply their affiliates with everything they need to create and customize holiday promos. The theme, the music, the graphics, shots of their favorite network entertainment and news personalities, the works.

All the station has to do is insert shots of its news personalities and voila, and it has a high-end, highly-produced holiday promo that ties in with its  network and includes its on-air news talent.

It’s easy, it makes sense, and in this era where creative services people are doing more with less, it’s done.

I get that. But some TV stations still do their own holiday promos now and certainly have in the past. I found some creative and unique holiday spots from yesteryear that I thought I’d share. These are fun to look at even if you never worked at these stations. But if you did work there, these will bring back great memories and familiar faces. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post more holiday promos from yesterday and yesteryear.

It’s the season of sharing so why not share your station’s holiday promos FROM ANY YEAR.
Send me your station holiday spots from any year to share by emailing me the online link or a small file version I can post online. Got a question or want to brainstorm? I’m at 817-578-6324 or [email protected].

WXIA Atlanta, 1986

WOKR (WHAM today) Rochester, 1988

WJZ Baltimore, 1994
Here is a compilation of several holiday promos featuring the station’s on-air personalities.

WKBD Detroit, 1986

WDIO Diluth, 1970s

KBAK Bakersfield, 1994