TVNewsCheck had a newsworthy interview last week with Anton Guitano, the newly appointed Chief Operating Officer of CBS Local Media. Guitano’s job, in the words of TVNewsCheck’s Harry Jessel, is to “get TV and radio working together in a common local media strategy” — which sounds like it will mean a single WCCO news site here. Right now, TV has wcco.com and radio has the angry-on-the-eyes wccoradio.com.
TNC: I noticed that here in New York WCBS-AM and WCBS-TV have two very similar Web sites. They both do news and information. Any thought about combining those into one site?
Guitano: Yes. What we’re going to do is we’re going to aggregate the sites and come up with one site in each market that will incorporate the news, sports, weather. We want to make it hyperlocal, equivalent to the best local paper with all the local information and then have links to our assets outside of the local areas such as CBS News.com, CBSSports.com, etc.
TNC: I count at least 14 markets where you have TV and radio stations. In how many of those markets will you merge your local sites?
Guitano: We would do it in all 14 markets.
“Equivalent to the best local paper” would be quite a feat, given that a combined TV/radio news operation would be well under half (and probably under a third) of the Strib’s newsroom today. This assumes a combo is additive, and not aimed at job-cutting “synergies.”
Still, points for ambition. True integration of video, sound (and text transcriptions) at newspaper-level scale would be good for local newshounds, not to mention search engine rankings, etc. I suspect that not long after this, the two newsrooms would merge completely. Maybe Eric Eskola would show up on Channel 4 as well as Channel 2.
So when do WCCO’s web sites shack up? “There are no plans to do it yet,” insists Kiki Rosatti, WCCO TV’s spokeswoman. “There are no changes planned in the immediate future.”
Rosatti’s message was that AM and TV are already “inclusive” of each other’s work. She pointed to radio’s 6 p.m. simulcast of TV’s news, Don Shelby’s just-departed show, and shared school-closing info. But at least on the web side, that doesn’t sound like what Guitano is pitching.
Elsewhere, Guitano and new CBS TV group head Peter Dunn make it clear that status-quo sharing isn’t enough:
Guitano: It’s not going to be a cookie-cutter approach to how we implement this across our markets. Peter, Dan Mason and I will be traveling to all the markets starting with the big ones and sitting down with the general managers and department heads. We want to figure out what makes the most sense in each market. We will be giving them suggestions and ideas that have come up in other markets, but we’re not going to force them on people. We’re going to be more like coaches.
Dunn: We have done a lot of this in the past — sharing content and cross-promotion with radio and television. But this time around, having it come from the top with Leslie on board, it’s different. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea. We’re going about it in a way that we should have done a while ago because there have been many missed opportunities. Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s actually going to work a lot better.