Meet the Man Beneath the Mask

Makeup tutorial videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube usually feature young, beautiful women, but one Cincinnati anchor is shaking things up with a little humor and some concealer application tips.

WKRC Cincinnati Morning Anchor Bob Herzog made a New Year’s Resolution that has launched him into BuzzFeed-worthy Internet stardom.

He decided that every morning before going on the air for Good Morning Cincinnati, he was going to do a video. “One of those rah-rah let’s get up and have a good day kind of videos.”

They started out pretty tame, but about two weeks in, he decided to try something new and different. He was going to put on his studio makeup, and do it “like one of those Instagram makeup tutorials,” Herzog said.

Once he introduced the makeup tutorial, the name just fell right into place. Wake Up and Make Up was born.

Over time they’ve evolved from purely makeup tutorials to include everything from the pre-show banter with his fellow anchors to his thoughts about a new tie. The videos have taken on a life of their own in a way that Herzog never could have imagined. He’s got viewers from Rhode Island all the way to Japan, and pretty much everywhere in between.

And as Herzog’s videos gained popularity and notoriety, his following on Facebook grew as well. According to his news director, Tim Geraghty, he’s got a Facebook following– over 200,000 followers – that would make a lot of TV stations around the country jealous.

Geraghty said he encourages his on-air talent to approach audience engagement in a way that works for them and fits their personality.

“We’re very fortunate that we have someone like Bob who the audience can both engage with on such a conversational level, but still respect him when he does his news every day,” Geraghty said.

This self-described “’goofy guy” from Cincinnati has figured out how to connect with his followers on social media and his audience on local TV in a way that gives them “a good sense of the people they’re getting their news from,” Herzog said.

And the stronger connection that Herzog has made with his followers is something WKRC is beginning to experiment with the 9 o’clock hour of Good Morning Cincinnati.

Herzog now ducks out for about 15 minutes sometime during the morning broadcast, goes live again on Facebook, and talks about some of the stories Good Morning Cincinnati is going to feature at 9 AM. He then uses some of the comments from his followers to lead into the stories later on in the show.

For Herzog, “It’s not just about having a relationship with people in that social media space, but letting them know that they can then cross over with us back onto the TV side as well.”

Does Herzog’s successful gimmick mean we’re going to be treated to a nationwide outbreak of Sinclair anchors slapping on their morning faces every day? No, Sinclair digital social media director John Colucci assured us in an email. “Bob’s personality and openness is key to his social media prowess, but we know not everyone is comfortable putting out a lot of details about themselves – and that’s ok! We encourage our journalists to share tidbits about who they are outside of work. That can be as simple as that they enjoy gardening, or pet photos, all the way to sharing milestones in their kids’ lives.”

What’s really surprised Herzog – besides the fact that his videos are being watched halfway across the world – is the community that has formed around these videos.

“There are a lot of places online that are not so friendly all the time,” Herzog said. “And for whatever reason, I have just stumbled into a really nice group of people who I think are looking for something a little bit positive, especially at the start of the day.”

Does your station have any unusual examples of broadcast/digital integration or anchors stepping out of their roles to drive social engagement? If so, send them our way and we’ll take a look. Email us at

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Tomorrow’s Weather Report — Completely Different

The weather in South Central Texas can get pretty repetitive, especially in the middle of the summer when the thermometer rarely dips below 100 degrees.

And no one knows that better than KSAT meteorologist Kaiti Blake in San Antonio. Rather than figure out yet another way to say ‘Tomorrow’s weather — just like today’s!’ she decided to try something completely different.

One day last March, Blake went up to the roof of her station armed with just her cell phone, an intern and an idea, and “Rooftop Weather was born.

She started out recording the segments on her cell phone, and then edited them when she could, usually between the things she was supposed to be doing in the newsroom. As she began filling in for other meteorologists on Thursdays and Fridays, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep up with “Rooftop Weather” though. “For a while there it was touch and go,” Blake said.

Despite that difficulty, and the frustration that came with it, Blake found motivation from her fans on social media. “I quickly found out that if I missed a week, people tweeted at me,” Blake said. The segment had garnered a following, and she felt responsible to her fans to produce something consistent — “something people looked forward to at the end of each week.”

So Blake reached out to KSAT Digital Producer Andrew Wilson. That led to a new routine of Blake and Wilson going up to the roof on Thursdays to record that week’s segment with a DSLR camera.

This push for innovation is not something that stops with Blake. As KSAT News Director Bernice Kearney explained, it’s a culture she tries to foster at the station. “My whole thing, [is] we want people to feel empowered to do things like this,” Kearney said. We want to “give people the freedom and flexibility to see what works for them.”

The videos themselves feature what Blake calls “well-placed GIFs,parkour scenes, dance breaks, emojis, wildly colored headlines and — oh, I almost forgot — some actual weather. Blake says the whole idea is to allow her followers to relate to the content in a more “organic” way than a traditional weather segment.

According to Kearney there’s definitely an appetite for content produced in new, exciting and different ways. Sometimes people have a preconceived notion of what news — and weather — have to look like, but “you don’t have to have a formula to have an impact,” Kearney said.

Do you have your own examples of creative weather segments? Just send them to us and we’ll check them out. Email us at

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Video: The Weather Channel uses AR to illustrate the destructive nature and danger of tornadoes here.

Video: This video by the Weather Channel featuring Erika Navarro explains the dangers of flooding in the wake of hurricanes using immersive mixed reality.

Article: The indispensable appeal of local weather reporters. Read here.

Article: What journalists can learn from their local TV weather forecast. Read here.

‘Bold Ideas for 100, Please, Alex’

Richard Curtis

When Philadelphia-area teacher Richard Curtis won a contest in 2016 to try out as Kelly Ripa’s co-host on her ABC morning show, not everyone in the City of Brotherly Love was rooting for him. “We hope he doesn’t get this show,” WTXF Fox29 News Director Jim Driscoll and his colleagues agreed. They didn’t want a newly minted local celebrity — especially one as talented as Curtis — competing against them in the 9 AM hour of their Good Day Philadelphia.

So when Ryan Seacrest got the seat next to Ripa instead, Fox brass in New York hit speed-dial to the Philadelphia station, and Driscoll and GM Dennis Bianchi pounced. Curtis, who’s still a technology education teacher in Souderton, Pennsylvania, started contributing regularly to the morning show over his summer break last year, even filling in for host Mike Jerrick on the 9 AM hour from time to time. Senior EP Tom Louden wondered: “Could we build a show around this guy?”

Then one foggy Christmas Eve…okay, actually one day in February, Bianchi challenged his team to come up with some bold new local programming ideas to present to their Fox bosses in New York. Louden had one that Bianchi loved: a game show that pits teachers against students, featuring Curtis as host. The ClassH-Room was born.

Well, the show wasn’t really born until now: it premiered on October 1 and airs as a Monday through Friday strip at noon. Bianchi describes the long gestation period as much tougher than he expected — “incredibly hard.” “I’m grateful we didn’t know what we didn’t know back in March,” he adds. “We would have been terrified.”

But the result is impressive: a well-produced, entertaining game show that features students, teachers, and a hometown audience from a different area school every day. There’s a zippy theme song (lyrics by Creative Services Director Alissa Frick, who just got inspired to write them); a slick opening animation; buzzers imported all the way from Chicago; an inviting set with colors inspired by school bus yellow and chalkboard green; and obsessive attention to detail, including real school desks and handwritten name tags that use the students’ first names but call the teachers “Mr.” and “Ms.”

Curtis still teaches five days a week but shows up every Saturday to tape six episodes of The ClassH-Room in one of the news studios. In addition to propelling the proceedings like a game-show veteran, he draws on his day job to get the best out of his constantly changing “cast of characters.” The segments have names like Pop Quiz, Spell Check, Picture Day, Field Trip, and Final Exam. My favorite (and I got the sense Bianchi’s also) is Detention, which cuts both ways: the students can also send the teachers to sit out for a spell. The ominously lit detention area has a window for mindless staring and a clock with rapidly spinning hands — an ironic comment on the hands of a real classroom clock that never seem to move.

How does any of this help the newsroom though? The most obvious benefit is increased brand awareness and engagement with the station. “All the benefits of doing a show like this are local,” says Bianchi. He describes it as an outreach campaign built school by school across all 18 counties in the market, amplified by each set of participants and parents and friends on social media. “Every Saturday, six more communities are coming in here that might never have had a relationship with us.” There’s aggressive cross-promotion with Good Day as well.

Less tangible, but nevertheless palpable in talking with Bianchi and Driscoll, is the excitement of building something new that involves the whole station. The show grew out of the news department and still reports to Senior EP Louden. PJ Williamson directs Good Day Philadelphia four days a week and The ClassH-Room tapings on Saturday. The same control room crews that do the early and late news on Saturday split the six episodes. Says News Director Driscoll, “We could easily add more newscasts. To be challenged to do different things is energizing.”

Of course, enthusiasm alone won’t determine whether the experiment is deemed a success. Bianchi says early ratings are encouraging but suggests we check back in three months or so. Is this the seed of a new Fox Stations franchise? “That’s for other stations to decide,” says Bianchi. “What we care about is taping six great shows every Saturday.”

What are your bold new programming experiments? Email us at We’ll check them out.

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Showdown on Facebook Watch

What do Anderson Cooper, Jorge Ramos, and Michael Koenigs have in common? Answer: they’re all hosts of new programs streaming on Facebook Watch. Unlike the other two, Koenigs may not be a household name – yet – but his show, More in Common, from the ABC Television Stations, often outperforms his more famous competitors from the cable and broadcast networks.

More in Common is one of three shows produced by local station groups for Facebook Watch – part of a Facebook-funded test of original news programs that’s been underway since July.

All three shows are tailored for the time of Trump. TEGNA’s entry, An Imperfect Union, has much in common with More in Common: both feature stories about political or cultural opposites who come together in search of common ground.

Hearst’s Dispatches from the Middle has less kumbaya in its DNA, but it does feature stories from the heart of America, not the (implicitly elitist) coasts.

A Syrian refugee and a former Klansman bond in a scene from “More in Common’s” most popular episode so far.

For Facebook, which approved the concepts but exercises no editorial control, the experiment is designed to suss out what works best on the Watch platform. The shows are explicitly designed to trigger a lively conversation among users. “Innovation and community are at the heart of what we’re optimizing for in the test,” says Josh Mabry, who leads Facebook’s local news partnerships in the U.S. “There’s a great opportunity to think about the format: how might it drive community engagement? What format works best?”

For the stations, it’s an experiment in slickly produced episodic programming, suitable for “bingeing” – a chance to color well outside the lines of traditional local TV news formulas in search of new viewers. And, for a while at least, Facebook is paying the bills.

More in Common comes from Localish, the ABC Stations’ digital production arm. Koenigs, who serves as executive producer and reporter, is channeling his own previous work on Localish: his video about a former neo-Nazi who has his swastika tattoos removed after an “unlikely friendship” with his African-American parole office went crazy viral last year. Each week, Koenigs and his production team of five publish another of what the show’s tagline calls “inspiring stories of Americans who come together despite their difference and find common ground in unexpected ways.”

Examples include a Los Angeles judge and a convicted murderer who have become running buddies; a Chicago softball league that pits former gang members against cops; and a San Francisco program that brings Republicans and Democrats together for a meal – “Make America Dinner Again.”

Those three happen to be ABC O&O markets – not a coincidence. The ABC stations contribute ideas, post the episodes on their own Facebook pages, and broadcast excerpts of the stories to promote the full show on Facebook Watch.

But Koenigs stresses that these are local stories designed to resonate with a national audience. “The strongest story wins. Location isn’t as important as we thought.” Viewers are “meeting people from all over America that they would otherwise never be exposed to.”

The most popular episode to date: the “unlikely friendship” (sound familiar?) between a former Ku Klux Klan member and Syrian Muslim refugee in Georgia, had nearly 6 million views as of mid-November.

TEGNA’s An Imperfect Union builds on the idea of bridging divisions between opposites with a clever reality-show twist: the subjects agree to perform a community service together. So Charlotte, North Carolina cop Matt hands out sneakers to the homeless with Corry, a young black man who’s been arrested more than 20 times; immigration hard-liner Ron volunteers at a Minneapolis soup kitchen with now-naturalized Somali refugee Asma; civil rights activist Peter and conservative radio show host Grant feed the homeless at a Dallas shelter after a pointed debate about NFL kneeling protests; atheist Aleta and believer Mallory hand out school supplies in Knoxville as they debate the role of religion in the classroom; gun violence victim Faye and gun-rights activist Chris – both Army veterans – pack food for charity in Macon, Georgia. You get the idea.

Matt and Corry work the street together in a scene from “An Imperfect Union.”

The idea sprang from a TEGNA brainstorming session to come up with distinctive projects for the 2018 midterm elections. It turned out to be just what Facebook was seeking. The show addresses a wide variety of issues — many of them, like assisted suicide or the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle, “third-rail topics,” in the words of TEGNA Chief Digital Officer Adam Ostrow: “How can we find some common ground in our communities given the current climate?”

A TEGNA team manages the freelancers who produce the weekly show. The owned stations are only indirectly involved. All the episodes so far have been in TEGNA markets, with stations contributing informally to what may be the hardest part of the process: finding the right stories and central characters. There’s no narration and no anchor or “host” – just an interviewer who is occasionally identified as a “TEGNA Journalist.”

TEGNA is trying to turn An Imperfect Union into a seven-days-a-week event on Facebook, with a new element – a news article, an issue-related question posed to users, a selection of bonus material – popping up virtually every day to amplify the Wednesday episode releases. The stations are encouraged to air excerpts of the episodes on their broadcasts and host related conversations on their own Facebook pages.

Dispatches from the Middle, produced by Hearst’s digital content division Stitch, describes itself as “incredible stories from a local community just like yours.” The show offers one “dispatch” a week, from an unsolved set of serial murders in New Mexico to a bionic breakthrough that helps a blind Iowa man see to an Ohio community rallying around a terminally ill boy to a DNA-linked clue that could break a 26-year-old Pennsylvania cold case.

The format – essentially short magazine pieces – is the most TV-like of the three Facebook Watch local entries. There’s a host – Alexandra Stone, moonlighting from her weekend anchor job at Hearst’s KETV-Omaha – who presents the show from a hip-looking brick-lined studio and narrates each story. Even though the Hearst brand is never mentioned – Stitch gets all the credit – Dispatches draws much more overtly on the Hearst stations, relying heavily on their footage and featuring their reporters in Skype interviews with Stone to talk more about each story.

“Dispatches from the Middle” host Alexandra Stone interviews a local reporter for more on the story.

The “from the middle” concept plays to the Hearst stations’ strengths as well, explains Hearst Television’s Chief Digital Content Officer and Dispatches executive producer Andrew Fitzgerald. “The concept is more about highlighting stories that might not always find national play, less than it is a counterpoint to national or coastal media. We are definitely leaning on Hearst’s unique distribution among TV markets,” he told me via email.

Fitzgerald ran Twitter’s Moments before coming to Hearst, and Dispatches is aggressive in its callout to the Facebook community. Stone reads a series of Facebook comments each week and directly urges viewers to contribute to the conversation. “I definitely think much of what we learn from Dispatches will inform more of our work on digital – whether on the central team or at the stations,” says Fitzgerald. “Our central digital teams will often take the vanguard in new experiments to test, measure, and distill learnings that serve the whole group.”

TEGNA’s Adam Ostrow says much the same about An Imperfect Union, which is “driven from the center but will have benefits to the stations down the road.”

One of those benefits will be to help answer some questions with direct implications for future revenue: What do users want from local stations (and social media platforms, for that matter) beyond what they’re getting now? Can highly-produced episodic programming attract and engage new users? What is a sustainable business model around creating original content for social media?

Like the three station groups, Facebook, too, is in learning mode as this test unfolds. As TEGNA’s Ostrow puts it, “This is a chance to figure out whether Facebook can be a platform for destination video viewing.” Says Facebook’s Josh Mabry: “We didn’t know what would work, and candidly, we still don’t know what will work in this space.”

Do you have experiments involving new programs and platforms that you’d like us to check out and share? Email us at

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Article: Soaking Up Millennials With a Sponge. Read here.

Article: Facebook rolls out news shows for Watch, but will people watch them? Read here.

Soaking Up Millennials With a Sponge

When Jacqueline McLean, assignment manager for Fresno’s ABC30, went to the farmer’s market in Clovis, California, she was shopping for fresh vegetables, not fresh story ideas. But then she ran into Nathan Pauls.

Pauls was manning his luffa stand. Huh? Yes, luffa, also spelled “loofah” — defined by Merriam-Webster as “a sponge consisting of the fibrous interior of the mature dried fruit of a loofah.” Like a lot of people (those who have even heard of them), McLean thought luffas came from the sea. But she learned from Pauls that he and his schoolteacher wife Sherri were growing luffas just 40 miles away and turning them into sponges and soap.

McLean’s station, KFSN-TV, the smallest of ABC’s O&O’s, had just received a mandate from corporate bosses along with the other stations: come up with one upbeat story a week that would appeal to a national audience — a young one, ages 18-44 — to populate a new online and social media franchise called Localish.

Bingo! McLean pitched the luffa idea, and soon afterward, ABC30 creative services producer Alec Armbruster was at the Pauls farm in Reedley shooting the station’s very first story for Localish. In the two-minute video, Pauls shows how to extract the versatile sponge from the dried gourd of the luffa plant after it matures. “This was our dishwashing sponge,” says Pauls in the video. “We used it for an entire year, and it never smelled.”

Localish posted the “Luffa Gardens” video in early September as part of its “Secretly Awesome” vertical, but the story didn’t stay secretly awesome for long. “We weren’t surprised by the success, but by the extent of the success,” says refreshingly modest GM Dan Adams.

That’s because the video is growing like an out-of-control luffa vine — 19 million views on Facebook and counting, the most successful Localish video to date by a country mile.  Adams admits that he and his small team weren’t sure how they were going to generate compelling national content week after week. Now this natural sponge story from the 54th market is wiping the floor with ABC30’s top-ten-market siblings.

And “Luffa Gardens” is sponging up those elusive millennials — most viewers of the video are in the 25-34 range. Adams and his news director, Michael Carr, credit the “I didn’t know that” factor and the luffa’s all-natural organic quality for its appeal to young consumers.

Luffa farmer Nathan Pauls can barely keep up with the new demand. (screenshot from KFSN-TV)

Farmer Pauls can barely keep up with the surge in demand. He told Adams he’s lost seven pounds and is averaging three hours of sleep a night. “He doesn’t need to go to the farmer’s market anymore,” says Adams wryly.

How to replicate the smash success of the sponge story? Ay, there’s the rub. “We always like to win at everything, but we were just fortunate that we found a pretty incredible idea,” says Adams. “And we kind of stumbled into it.”

Do you have experiments involving new programs and platforms that you’d like us to check out and share? Email us at

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‘I’ll Have Some News, Please — Hold the Crime’

Chris Turner hadn’t even started his job as news director at WJTV, Nexstar’s CBS affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi, when his wife Rene almost convinced him to turn around and go back to Georgia. They were watching the news on WLBT, the market leader, in their motel room and counted nine crime stories in a row at the top of the newscast. That’s when Rene said, “Are you sure we want to live here?”

Turner took the job anyway, and almost immediately found himself on the sharp end of a tirade from a prominent local bar owner: “All you talk about is the bad stuff. You guys are ruining the city!”

That helped settle the matter. After just three weeks on the job, at the end of the November book in 2017, Turner issued an unusual edict: no crime for the first five minutes — at least not the routine crimes that clutter up so many newscasts. Here’s a line from the memo Turner sent to his team:

So on the day we first talked with Turner, when his competitors led with five and seven crime stories respectively, WJTV had no crime until 5:05. And that’s how the newscast looks pretty much every day.

From WJTV.

There are exceptions, of course, and Turner spelled them out: a mass shooting, a hostage situation, a dangerous suspect at large, or a crime involving an officer or a child. Those stories go right to the top.

The rule has forced the station to do more enterprise reporting on local issues for the first five minutes of the newscast, Turner says. He encourages his reporters to seek out stories that directly affect viewers.

WJTV still covers crime, it just doesn’t lead with it — a distinction Turner has had to explain to assignment editors who missed some stories under the mistaken belief that “we don’t cover crime anymore.”

The station’s new assistant news director, Rob Taylor, is still getting used to the format too — a big change from his two last producing jobs in Chicago. “Crime does not lead. That’s unique. I’ve had to re-train myself, and I’m still doing it. There’s plenty of other news going on in this town.”

Turner says his veteran anchors are excited about the policy, his bosses at Nexstar are giving him free rein, and focus groups support the idea of downplaying crime. That bar owner who yelled at him must be happy, too.

Interestingly, Turner isn’t promoting the change to his viewers. Because of those exceptions, it would be too easy for them to get confused when crime does lead the program.

Of course with or without promotion, the viewers will decide whether this experiment is a success.

Early ratings were inconclusive, with one book stronger and one weaker after his “hold the crime” rule kicked in. But Turner is convinced that ultimately, crime doesn’t pay:

“News is how events and people affect our lives. I will stick with this plan: as long as I’m news director, this is how we’re going to do it.”

Our thanks to Fuzz Hogan of New America Foundation for telling us about this experiment and introducing us to Chris Turner.

If you have your own examples of how to shake up conventional TV news formulas, we’d like to know. Please email us at

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Why News Executives Should Overcome The Fear Factor

“The number one problem is fear,” said Tracie McKinney, News Director at Scripps’s KTNV in Las Vegas. “We’re afraid of losing our audience.”

Tracie McKinney: “The number one problem is fear.”

McKinney, who credits her own experiments for her move up from assistant news director at WXYZ in Detroit to the Las Vegas job, was talking about barriers to innovation at a reception and informal conversation the Knight-Cronkite News Lab hosted at the RTDNA’s “Excellence in Journalism” conference in Baltimore this fall. TEGNA’s News VP Ellen Crooke, a noted evangelist for fearless change, was there too. “We should be terrified of NOT being innovative,” said Crooke. “Not taking action is even scarier than trying something new.”

Ellen Crooke: “We should be terrified of NOT being innovative.”

It’s a bit of a paradox. The news directors and other executives we’ve interviewed for the Knight-Cronkite News Lab project on local TV news innovation all agree that there’s too much sameness in their business and nowhere near enough experimentation – even on digital platforms — and yet the problem stubbornly persists. Here are five reasons why it’s so hard to break with the familiar.

1. The Audience Trap

McKinney and her fellow news directors acknowledge that it’s a lot easier to chase away the viewers and users you have than to attract new ones. The people who watch local TV news like it the way it is – they’ve certainly had decades to get used to the formula – and the “switching cost” of changing the channel to a competitor is zero. So the fear is your loyal base will “punish” you if you tinker too much with the tried and true. When I worked at CBS News, I had my own bromide to describe this phenomenon: “The people who are keeping us alive – are killing us.”

2. The Resource Trap

News directors say they are strapped for people, money and time. They’re “asked” to expand their news hours with minimal if any additional resources. Freeing up a team to create and implement experiments sounds great, but who’s going to cover the 4, 5 and 6? As Ellen Crooke put it in an earlier session at the same RTDNA conference, “We have to give our journalists the opportunity to get off that assembly line.” And changing metaphors on the fly: it’s hard to look at the map when both hands are gripping the wheel just to stay on the road.

3. The Mixed Messages From Management Trap

News directors complain about their bosses – no headline there – but in this case, the beef is that the higher-ups want them to change while hitting their ratings and revenue targets. Given the real or perceived likelihood of losing viewers and even digital users in the short term, it’s small wonder that the immediate perils of innovation can outweigh the potential for payoffs down the road. Tracie McKinney: “When you take a risk, it might not work the first time. You have to have the support of the people above you to take that risk.”

4. The Success Trap

It may sound odd, but local TV news operations are to some extent the victims of their own prosperity. For too many years, a comfortable oligopoly has protected even the mediocre players: there was enough money in the market to go around. In theory, the #2 or #3 station in the market should be incentivized to try something new, but those changes are often incremental variations on the same themes: build a new set, launch a different promotion campaign, re-shuffle the anchors. It’s been too easy to make money the old-fashioned way, too risky to try anything bolder. At least until now.

5. The Culture Trap

This may be the most daunting barrier to meaningful change. Over many decades, local TV newsrooms have developed a culture of conformity – one station manager called it “incestuous” – that can stifle innovative ideas. It’s our old friend the fear factor again: what will my peers say if I try this – especially if it doesn’t work?

Ironically, cultural conformity can prevent executives from taking advantage of an enormous asset that is right under their noses. It’s the reverse apprenticeship model, in which the people in charge learn from their own young employees, whose media habits mirror the generation newsrooms most want to attract. Ellen Crooke says some of the best ideas at TEGNA come from the newest members of the team. “We encourage them to create a product that you or your friends want to watch.”

And finally, cultural resistance can impede recruitment of the best and brightest. A reputation for rigidity — training for sameness rather than rewarding distinctiveness — is hardly a draw for innovation-minded graduates tempted by Google or Facebook.

What’s the secret to overcoming these barriers to innovation — the fear of the unknown? The secret is there is no secret. These “traps” are real, and avoiding them requires patience, imagination, and a willingness to take chances.

We at the Knight-Cronkite News Lab will do our part to help. Subscribe to our newsletter and keep checking this digital innovation hub for examples from around the country of people who have conquered the fear factor, even if they haven’t yet figured out all the answers to what comes next.

The noted philosopher Yoda said, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

The noted news director Tracie McKinney said, “The only obstacle I have is me.”

Additional reporting by Charlene Santiago

Do you have experiments involving new programs and platforms that you’d like us to check out and share? Email us at

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Article: Local TV News and the New Media Landscape. Read here.

Article: “Thank God you’re not in newspapers”: Local TV is doing way better than you’d think, a new report suggests. Read here.