News Directors Speak

Ed Chapuis, news director at Cox-owned Fox affiliate KTVU-TV in San Francisco “While we aren’t planning for a recession, we are prepared to tighten our belt again if the broadcast industry takes another hit. We’d prefer to be optimistic, looking for more ways to grow the KTVU news brand. In 2011, we added two newscasts—4:30 a.m. and weekend mornings—and they’ve both moved to No. 1 in the Bay Area in just 11 months. We’re adding a Tablet App next month and there are other exciting growth opportunities in the digital space. These are just a few ways we’re providing our audience more news and information while giving our sales team more opportunities to make money. So, in short, we believe the best defense is a good offense. Rather than cut back, we think we can grow audience and revenue in a down market by being aggressive in news.” Robert Thomas, news director at Gray Television CBS affiliate WKYT-TV in Lexington, Ky. “As we plan for 2012 and beyond, we continue to focus on how to maximize efficiencies within our news and production staffs. Regardless of whether there’s another recession or an economic rebound, the reality remains that we must find ways to maximize the productivity of our existing resources. Sometimes to do that requires better training while other times it may require investment in new equipment to help streamline the workflow so existing staff can be given expanded responsibilities. When there is turnover, we continue to evaluate the need to replace that person and whether we can create efficiencies and new opportunities for others by consolidating positions. Michelle Butt, news director at Hearst’s NBC, WBAL-TV in Baltimore “We’re still in the middle of the economic downturn that started in 2008, so we continue to monitor things like unemployment, housing, seasonal employment in this area. We are still doing stories and trends on the issue of value of your home, and how that affects taxes and where people choose to live. Am I expecting another recession? No. We continue to cover the stories about our community. Until [we ’re told] it’s over, we’re going to continue to cover stories as we have about families trying to get more bang for their buck, watching the unemployment numbers, seeing how our community [does against] the national average and watching other economic indicators like new road construction, sale of existing homes, jobs moving into the community and things like that.” Tim Dye, news director at Scripps ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit “We are not planning for another recession, but we are always cautious about the marketplace. The Detroit marketplace, as you know, was crippled in 2008 and 2009 as the automotive industry went through tremendous change. That change, as difficult as it was, has turned to a new birth for the automakers in 2011, and the companies are doing much better. The promise of new hires and the actual development of new hires is occurring more frequently, and we’re reporting on it pretty regularly. In the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, as the auto industry goes, so does our economy. We’re not really planning for another recession, but we are cautiously watching the developments globally and how they can have an effect on us.”