10.23.2006 08:00 AM
The changing face of TV news

From news reporters to home viewers, NBCU 2.0 — the latest reorganization of the NBC network — has a major focus on the future of TV news. By its very name, the plan signals a new emphasis on Internet and other routes of alternative distribution.

NBC claims that the 9 million viewers who tune in each night to the newscast by anchor Brian Williams will not feel shortchanged by the network’s smaller staff and tightened resources.

Bill Kovach, chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, an advocacy group for responsible journalism, told “The New York Times” that last week’s NBC Universal announcement portends “a disturbing trend, one that anyone who worries about democratic society has to be concerned about.” Kovach said he feared that if other major news organizations followed suit, the amount of newsgatherers could be dramatically reduced, somewhat thinning our knowledge of the world at large.

Others see the network’s budget cutting as part of a larger shift now occurring at most news organizations, including newspapers. “Given the competitive landscape, a drastic change is necessary for these operations,” Mark R. Fratrik, vice president of BIA Financial Network, a communications consulting firm, wrote in an analysis of the announcement.

For news employees, the announcement reinforces the need to acquire a new set of multimedia job skills for survival beyond the TV news era.

“In a nutshell, TV news staffers need to quickly expand their skill sets and become proactive about contributing content on multiple platforms,” wrote Cory Bergman in reaction to the NBC layoffs on www.LostRemote.com. “They now have to compete with a tech-savvy workforce for these new digital positions.”



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