Click here to read more Next Wave of Leaders
It’s been a torrid news season in Florida, and that’s
just how Elliott Wiser, head of Bright House Networks’
lively cable news channels in Tampa and Orlando,
likes it. The trial of Casey Anthony, charged with killing
her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, kicked off May 24,
and it rivals the O.J. Simpson trial in central Florida—
and well beyond. Earlier this spring, President Obama
and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were in town to watch the
Endeavor space shuttle take off with Giffords’ husband
on board. In July, the shuttle Atlantis is to lift off from
Broadcast rivals in Orlando increasingly went wall-towall
on the Anthony trial, but the Bright House networks
have been there from Day One. Wiser, a former CNN
Headline News reporter and producer, says Tampa’s Bay
News 9 and Orlando’s News 13 are way more than cable
channels these days. The outlets blanket their markets
with rich on-demand programming, tireless Web coverage
(cfnews13.com took a 2011 Murrow award for best
regional Website) and a robust social media strategy, including
Twitter dispatches from the Anthony trial courtroom
(nearly 6,000 tweets by Day 14), and a dedicated
Casey Anthony News page on Facebook.
Wiser says being a 24/7 news channel is no longer
enough. “We are hitting on all platforms,” he says.
“These are more than 24-hour news channels.”
To figure out how to own news on the various platforms,
Wiser assembled what he calls the “Pandora”
task force, which spent 2010 brainstorming the newsroom
of the future. He began implementing its findings
in Tampa earlier this year, and will do so in Orlando
once the Anthony madness winds down.
Besides enhanced Web and social media strategies,
the group came up with “Big Boards” in the newsroom
to show what everyone’s working on and eliminate redundancy,
and a Bat Phone-like “squawk box” that allows
anyone in the various newsrooms—Bay News 9,
News 13, Bright House Sports Network, the En Espanol
channels—to hit a button and share breaking news
with the entire network.
“Things happen quicker and quicker,” Wiser says.
“You’ve got to have a communication process in place
that addresses that.”
Wiser effectively wrote the book on local cable news.
Part of the launch team for channels in Seattle and
Tampa, and the architect of Time Warner Cable’s channels
in Charlotte, N.C.; Albany, N.Y.; and Houston,
Wiser’s 2008 Masters thesis was “The Early History
of 24-Hour Local News Channels.” He touched it up
recently so the RTDNA could publish the landmark
study online. “I’m glad that it’s over and I’m done with
it,” Wiser says with a laugh. “I am ready for something
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Broadcasting & Cable. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.