The Era of Outsourced News Begins

I just finished watching a phenomenon that has made its way across the country – outsourced news.

Detroit’s “My TV 20” – WMYD-TV – debuted its new 10 p.m. newscast tonight. It arrived with such little fanfare, that I, not the station, talked to the Detroit Free Press about it over the weekend (read the lower right hand of this page link).

The newscast is produced and anchored in Iowa, with two local reporters providing stories that are inserted into the show. It’s all put together not by the station, but by a contracted “news for hire” company.

Opening night got off to a rough start. Detroit viewers saw the beginning of Rock Island, Illinois’ product, not our own. About a minute later, the Detroit broadcast came on, in the middle of a story. The newscast also ended abruptly when anchor banter ran over its alloted time.

As a former TV news producer, I notice things you probably wouldn’t when I watch TV. But, you may have noticed that one anchor said Northwest and Delta Airlines shareholders will “go to the polls” to vote on a proposed merger (ouch!) and that a radio station had a contest for its “viewers” (ouch again!).

A quick Internet search shows the Iowa based anchors, weathercaster and sportscaster also do the news for viewers in Columbus, Georgia (market 128) as well as Detroit (market 11).

With some practice, this newscast could make money for Channel 20’s owner, Granite, which is coming out of bankruptcy and provide an alternative by providing the relatively small amount of viewers who actually don’t care about personality, format or investigative stories and just want some local headlines before going to bed. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.