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Newspaper Reporters Venture into TV Land

We’ve got a story in the new issue, called “Newspaper Veterans Repurposed,” on newspaper veterans shifting over to local television. With newspapers not seeing the same kind of rebound local TV is, several local outlets are finding seasoned news-gatherers with rich knowledge of the market on the beach–or perhaps on the couch is a more accurate description.

Formerly ink-stained TV newbies include DeAnn Smith, who covered City Hall for the Kansas City Star before moving to KSHB Kansas City and then KMBC; a quartet of sports guys at Comcast’s Bay Area SportsNet, including Matt Steinmetz and Michael Urban; and, perhaps most notably, new Hawaii News Now (KGMB/KHNL/KFVE) news director Mark Platte, who was editor at the Honolulu Advertiser.

DeAnn Smith

Turning newspaper people into effective on-air talent doesn’t happen overnight, but Comcast SportsNet Bay Area boss Ted Griggs raises an interesting sign-of-the-times point: with Flip cams seemingly everywhere and smartphones capable of shooting video, pretty much everyone’s more comfortable in front of a camera now than they were a few years ago, even if they’re just mugging for their friends.

“So many people have cameras now,” he says. “They’re somewhat ubiquitous.”

Mark Platte

Agents and talent scouts I spoke with say they hadn’t seen enough of these moves to call it a trend quite yet, but as stations start hiring again–especially as they ramp up for election coverage–they wouldn’t be surprised if lots of newspaper people started plying their trade in television. That a lot of newspaper people may see their buyout packages wind down soon would only add to the trend.

Former RTDNA chairman Stacey Woelfel says they could be valuable assets.

“I haven’t thought about it a lot, but I guess the times have never been better as TV does more and more print-like things on the web,” he said via email. “I think the reporting rigor of a newspaper journalist would be welcomed most places