Anchors away in Houston news experiment


A ship can float without an anchor, so why not a TV newscast? Tribune Broadcasting is about to try a no-anchor newscast on KIAH-TV (CW) Houston. If the experiment works, “NewsFix” might show up on other Tribune TV stations with news ratings problems.

“We’ve shot a pilot or prototype and we’ll be developing the concept further for the Houston market.  It will be very, very different from a traditional newscast and we’re excited about it — but it is a work in progress,” Tribune Company spokesman Gary Weitman told RBR-TVBR.

The project is still a couple of months from implementation and some details are still being worked out – or at least not yet publicly disclosed. Houston blogger Mike McGuff  noted that KIAH had posted a job opening seeking an “Executive Producer and Imaginator” with such requirements as: “Has well honed B.S. Radar;” “Who knows that most local TV News sucks and wants to do something about it;” and “Gets ‘it’.”

Sound familiar? If so, you know Tribune Company Sr. VP/Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams and have guessed that he is behind this new approach to TV news.

The plan is (apparently) to have lots of fast-paced stories told primarily by the people involved in the news being made. So, the focus is on the content, without anchors or even reporters doing traditional standups.

KIAH General Manager Roger Bare told his staff it is designed as “a reimagining of our newscasts, one that I believe will offer local viewers a distinctive option that will set us apart in the market.  Our newscasts will be re-titled ‘39 NewsFix’ in the fall.  The core concept is to focus more on storytelling by allowing those in the story to tell the story, and to place video and audio at the center of all that we do.  It will be a fast-paced news product and we will be breaking with local news conventions.”

RBR-TVBR observation: With no anchors we wondered about such things as how you transition from one story to the next and how the station would handle breaking news. But we’ll have to wait for answers until “NewsFix” is up and running this fall.