LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


Now It's Getting Serious: Boston Stations Cut Back on Red Sox Coverage to Save Bucks

Say it ain't so. Boston stations, beset as the rest of the local news biz has been by plummeting ad sales, have weighed the ROIs on the Sox and decided Spring training's not in the cards. Jessica Heslam broke the news to Beantown in the Herald this morning: "WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) isn’t sending a sports reporter or anchor to spring training for the first time in the station’s history. WFXT-TV (Ch. 25) may not send anyone to cover spring training either. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next week."

It's a unique yet unsurprising indicator of how far budgets have fallen in local tv news departments big and small. What once would have been unthinkable (get rid of the chopper? Are you nuts?) is now--nearly--a given. “Obviously in this climate we’re watching every dime and how it’s spent but we don’t want to sacrifice coverage, so it’s a delicate dance,” said NECN spokeswoman Doreen Vigue, who says the cable news op will have a "presence" at Spring training, but hasn't decided yet whether it will be a staffer, a freelancer, or something else entirely. (Anyone predicting a Skype liveshot?)

Spring training--for baseball obsessed markets like Boston--has traditionally been one of those area where local sports departments show their stuff. Richard Huff in the NY Daily News recently argued that sports is DOA in local news. This may be another proverbial nail in that coffin.

Thoughts, Beantowners? Snarky comments, Yankees fans? (Though it should be noted that NYC stations have been cutting the life out of their sports staffs in recent weeks)


News 2.0: Can Traditional Newsers Reinvent Reporting Online?

If you wonder where, aside from the local tv station and the cable network, you might find yourself working in the next few years, look no further than Boston-based GlobalPost, the new international news site that officially launches tomorrow, but since you know me, I can get you in for a look around during the pre-launch party:  Just click here and tell 'em standupkid sent ya.  (And see if you don't agree the site looks clean, visually arresting, and unique)

The site's run by Phil Balboni, a guy who knows a lot about seeing the "next news idea" a few steps before the rest of us know what's happening.  The former head of traditional Boston news station WCVB, Balboni created NECN (New England Cable News) when few would give a snowball's chance to a 24 hour regional news channel.  Now he thinks he's got a winning idea online with GlobalPost, which has attracted nearly 70top-name journalists, and placed them in 45 countries around the world.

Phil Balboni/Global Post

Balboni describes GP this way in an interview with PBS's MediaShift:  "In my previous venture, we launched NECN.com as the first all-video website in 1997, and [it remained] an all-video website for the last 11 years," Balboni said. "We were way ahead of our time, but it's still evolving. [At GlobalPost] we can provide a full suite of content -- well-told stories in text that are not too long, use of video. We want to do a lot of great photography and narrated slide shows. We will invite comments and interaction with our users."

You won't get rich working for GlobalPost, at least not right now, with correspondents signing long-term contracts (and in many cases keeping their day jobs) for a monthly stipend of about $1,000.00, according to Forbes.  Reporters are expected to file 800 word text stories, with photos and/or video, and to blog.

But Balboni's had no shortage of blue chippers signing up.  Steve Safran, a VP at AR&D, told MediaShift, "(Balboni) founded NECN when the idea of a 24-hour local cable news channel was unproven and even derided.  He showed that he was willing to ride it out until it became a profitable venture."  

If it means more places for talented journalists to tell stories, I say Rock On, Phil.