Media strands meld in new information age

Newsrooms try to adapt

By Melissa McGrath

If you’re a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, you no longer have to worry about fighting traffic to make it back to the newsroom and post that breaking news story — or the photos to go along with it. Every reporter has been equipped with a laptop computer, digital camera, digital audio recorder and microphone so they can write, photograph and transmit on the spot.

It is all a part of the Press-Tribune becoming a 24/7 newsroom that is trying to keep up with the demands of an online world. “We had to restructure our newsroom. We had to become a 24/7 newsroom,” said Vickie Holbrook, managing editor of the Press-Tribune. And the Press-Tribune isn’t the only media outlet becoming more creative in an effort to attract a larger audience and use the Internet to its advantage.

Holbrook joined Mark Danielson, general manager for the KIFI News Group, and Don Day, digital media producer for the KTVB News Group in Boise, for a panel discussion about the Internet’s impact on broadcast and print media at an event sponsored by the Idaho Press Club’s Southwest Chapter. Even though it may seem like some forms of media are struggling more than others right now, the Internet is affecting all media outlets, Day told the audience of about 30 people.

“The newspaper is going through a terrible time,” Day said. “The reason I think it’s important for TV people to look at what’s happening in the newspaper industry is because we are next.”  To reflect the impact of the Internet, Local News 8 in Idaho Falls has re-branded itself as the KIFI News Group to become more than just a television station.

It is about being the No. 1 information provider in the market, whether that information is provided via television, the Internet, e-mail or another format, said Mark Danielson, general manager for the KIFI News Group. “You can be a little more creative than if it was just Local News 8,” Danielson said. “The Internet has changed the world. Today, I can start a TV station without a transmitter, a tower or a stick. I can start a newspaper without a printing press. I don’t need a $30,000 video camera to shoot video. “(The Press-Tribune) can do it for
200 to 300 bucks.”

Local News 8 has equipped each television reporter with the mobile technology they need to report, record, edit and transmit news footage on the spot, for example. “We’re going to be more the same than ever before — whether you like it or not,” Danielson said.

The panelists agreed that the Internet is forcing media outlets that traditionally focused on one form of media — print, television, radio — to expand to all forms of media. Newspapers are filming video and recording audio. Television stations are posting news articles on their Web
sites.

Holbrook encouraged college students who are interested in going into journalism one day to not focus on a single form of media, but to learn something about each of them. “If I was going to college today, I would learn about public relations, the Internet, uploading, code, and I
would learn marketing,” she said.

Melissa McGrath is a former reporter, and is the public information officer for the Idaho State Department of Education. She is the associate representative on the Idaho Press Club board.