No More News at 11 (Miles Per Gallon)

When local TV-news reporters race to the scene of big stories, they usually ride in a gas-sucking SUV or van. And it’s understandable: big lights, big cameras and, usually, big crew members.

But what if you’re one of those little news channels operated by a cable company—say, Cablevision’s News 12 The Bronx or News 12 Brooklyn in New York—and your reporters do double duty shooting and editing their own reports, using small cameras and laptops? Why, quicker than you can say Larry David, Cablevision started building a fleet of Toyota Prius hybrid electric/gas vehicles. But realizing the eco-dream was a slow process: Demand for the hybrids made them hard to get.

News Director Camilo Pombo says he hit on the Prius idea last year, when News 12 The Bronx needed to replace its aging stable of Chevy Luminas. “The Bronx has one of the highest levels of asthma in the country,” Pombo says. “We wanted to be environmentally friendly and help the borough.”

That, and save some cash: With the cars getting 60 miles per gallon, the channel is on target to reduce its fuel expenses by 50% from 2004.

When News 12 Brooklyn was preparing to launch in June, the channel—learning from the months-long delays in obtaining cars for the Bronx operation—ordered its vehicles well in advance.

In all, Cablevision has purchased 19 Priuses for its news operations. No doubt the cars get a tad more use than the ones used by Leonardo DiCaprio or Cameron Diaz to tootle around L.A.