Tough news from some friends of mine in Syracuse this week. After 60 years of broadcasting, CBS affiliate WTVH is basically shutting the doors on local news. They've laid off 40 people and merged the news operation with competitor (and my former station) WSTM.
Another sad economic story, but just a bit different. When most companies merge, not too many people notice except those who work there or maybe some vendors and customers. TV news is different – we get attached to those anchors and reporters. Case in point, we just got an email this morning about Chris Suchan. He's the local meteorologist who moved to Tampa six months ago.
It's actually an old story in Utica, NY. The first TV station to hire me, WUTR, stopped their newscasts in 2003. But that's a very small television market. It's #169 out of 210 (which is Glendive, MT in case you're curious). Syracuse is 81. Charlotte is 24.
I hope this isn't a trend in TV news, although I'm sure many stations will start cutting back on some newscasts. They've got to make money just like any other business, but also have unique responsibilities. Local TV stations (and radio, thanks!) are vital resources for safety issues, breaking news and for watching local politicians.
Yeah, most of the time it's easy to make fun of them for sending reporters out to stand in front of empty buildings in the dark ("I'm standing here live where a few hours ago, City Council made a decision…") but those same reporters are watching out for us and our tax money.
Let's hope the trend of completely giving up on local news stops here.