SYRACUSE, N.Y.: The demise of a 60-year-old TV station's news operation in this Central New York community is garnering plenty of coverage from local outlets. WTVH-TV, the community CBS affiliate owned by Granite Broadcasting, ended news operations this week after the parent company struck a joint operation agreement with Barrington Broadcasting. Barrington’s local NBC affiliate, WSTM-TV, took over news operations for both stations on Monday. About 40 people were let go from WTVH, The Post-Standardreported.
Ken Kneeland, a senior producer for ABC News, interned at WTVH.
“They helped pioneer live TV, created one of the longest-running children’s shows ever, produced election night coverage worthy of the national networks, helped bring down a corrupt mayor, and won an Emmy for their coverage of the Pan Am 103 tragedy,” Kneeland wrote in a letter to the Post-Standard. “Syracuse has lost an important voice. The community has one less source of information. One less watchdog over the powerful. This is part of a dangerous trend nationwide as TV stations and newspapers shed staff or close altogether, succumbing to the recession and the digital, ‘on-demand’ age.”
The Daily Orange, the school newspaper at Syracuse University, carried a story of how student interns were affected by the arrangement.
“It’s kind of funny,”" Crystal Beavers told the Orange. “I’ve kind of already been laid off and I don’t even have my first job yet.”
Granite and Barrington on Monday announced mutual operation agreements in Syracuse, N.Y. and Peoria, Ill. WSTM took over for WTVH in Syracuse, and Barrington’s CW-affiliated WHOI-TV, is being operated from the studios of Granite’s WEEK-TV, the NBC affiliate in Peoria. Both companies said the move was predicated on saving money. Granite is owned by Silver Point Capital, which took it out of bankruptcy in 2007. It trades over-the-counter for pennies. Barrington is privately owned.
Rod Wood, anchor at ABC affiliate WSYR-TV in Syracuse, said the demise of WTVH’s news operation was “a sad moment.”
“But the broadcasting and newspaper business has fallen on hard times recently,” Wood said in a commentary on WSYR’s Web site. In fact, thousands of people across the nation have lost their jobs. I wish I could be more optimistic, but right now I don’t see economic improvement on the horizon. For WTVH employees, this is a painful day. I pray they’ll all find new jobs. Unfortunately, those jobs may not all be in broadcasting.”
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