Lone wolf

Hey Mike-- Air Force One is over there!

Hey Mike-- Air Force One is over there!

The name is weak, but here’s a thumbs up to “the local news service,” the video pool arrangement anounced last week among three of the four Atlanta TV stations.   Given numerous unpleasant alternative, LNS is a clearheaded and sensible effort to streamline costs and rein in the unwieldy beast that often rears its head in competitive TV newsgathering.  The AJC reported the details Thursday and Friday.

The concept of LNS is simple:  When a low-key event is scheduled that requires coverage, one photographer from one station feeds video to all three stations in the pool.  This arrangement already exists for courtroom feeds.  This would extend it to wreath-layings, groundbreakings, presidential deplanings, baby Panda sightings, certain news conferences and other events where the video would be identical if shot by four different news photogs.

This reduces the unwieldy presence of news photographers at certain events, and frees the TV stations to use their photog staff to cover stuff that requires more competitive muscle.

The LNS concept was originated by local Fox stations in other markets.  WAGA pitched it here.  WXIA and WGCL bought in.  While acknowledging the potential savings, WSB conspicuously declined to join.  Bill Hoffman, GM at WSB, told the AJC:  “Right now we’re trying very hard to hold onto our independence.”

Pool arrangements can be tricky.  Occasionally, TV stations will labor under the impression that the other guys are unaware of certain court hearings.  They are loathe to activate the pool if they want an exclusive.  Sometimes, TV stations don’t learn about certain court events until the pool is activated.  This frequently results in the TV news equivalent of a game of chicken.   But odds are, LNS won’t suffer from too much of this.

Local TV stations will save very little, if any, actual money under the arrangement.  If they want to do that, they’ll start pooling helicopter resources.

This entry was posted in WAGA, WGCL, WSB, WXIA on by .

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

8 thoughts on “Lone wolf

  1. Tom Tucker

    As someone who works in local TV, my thought is that LNS saves by freeing up a photographer to go cover a story that isn’t a meeting or a court case. Rather than having (for example) every station at a Senator Fort speech, whoever’s turn it is on the LNS goes and the other two stations can go cover something else. It sucks for whoever’s on LNS duty, but next time it’ll be someone different.

    Having never worked as part of an actual TV news team, though, maybe I’m looking at it wrong.

  2. scott hedeen

    wow. this is huge.

    the blending of resources will only lead in one direction. circling the wagons, local TV news is collapsing. If one can cover a “news worthy event” as a single force…then can’t it be done on all levels? Court cases? State house throwdowns? Murders? … this list gets deeper and thicker with every thought.

    hey… i’m ok with that… as long as the rest of you are. Goodbye TV news… you were once a shiny outlet for individualism.

    1. Mr. Bear

      I wouldn’t say that “I’m OK with that” as much as that there are powerful market forces at work here. As the great philosopher Alex Karras put it: “Mongol only pawn in game of life.” The question is still that of the need for a strong reporting media to balance a powerful and growing government.

  3. arky

    For what it’s worth, this concept has been going on nationally for over a decade. It’s called the Network News Service, a consortium of CBS, ABC, and Fox that puts affiliate video from all three networks into a single pool. Combine that with the substantial number of network pools going on in DC and the fact that everyone seems to get their international footage from APTN and RTV these days, and it’s amazing just how little you see on some networks is actually shot by one of their employees.

  4. Juanita Driggs

    Don’t think this ad hoc consortium is going to last too long economy-of-scale considerations aside.

  5. Pingback: Bye bye, Skycam « live apartment fire

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