The highly anticipated and heavily reported “return of traditional, trusted, fact-based news reporting” to cable television is being celebrated on Wall Street and on Main Street, U.S.A.
NewsNation, a three-hour prime-time national newscast, makes it debut tonight (9/1) at 8pm Eastern at a refreshed WGN America — once Tribune Media’s flagship cable TV network and now owned by Nexstar Media Group.
NewsNation will air between 8pm-11pm seven days a week, and based on MVPD distribution can be viewed by some 75 million U.S. TV households.
For many, the arrival of NewsNation trumps the rollout of digital multicast all-news network NewsNet, which is Michigan based and, while sporting an enhanced set and a presentation akin to CNN Headline News circa 1994, is limited in its reporting abilities by scale and resources.
Not so for Nexstar, the nation’s largest owner of TV stations by property count.
With regional and local stories in the mix, NewsNation will employ its own team of some 150 writers, photojournalists, reporters and producers delivering news 24/7 through a new mobile app, NewsNationNow, and across other digital properties.
To generate awareness of the company’s new national prime-time newscast, Nexstar is backing the launch of NewsNation with $100 million of local market promotion across its 196 local television stations, social media, and “select radio and cable outlets” nationwide.
Nexstar founder and President/CEO Perry Sook, who helped ring Nasdaq’s Closing Bell on Tuesday in celebration of NewsNation‘s inaugural broadcast later that evening, said, “A lot has changed in the many years since the last launch of a national cable news network. Most importantly, the programming on other cable news networks is now dominated by shows built around opinion and analysis — not always facts. NewsNation is committed to bringing American consumers the fact-based news that impacts their lives without the opinion or bias of ‘talking heads.’”
A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that while large swaths of the public express negative views toward journalists and news organizations, U.S. adults are also open-minded about the possibility that their trust in the industry could improve. The analysis finds that there is indeed room for growth — no more than half of U.S. adults have confidence that journalists act in the best interests of the public or think that other Americans have confidence in the institution. And while most Americans (61%) expect the news they get to be accurate, nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say news organizations try to cover up mistakes when they do happen.
Sook continued, “Fact-based television news reporting is by far the most trusted and valued news source for consumers and NewsNation’s focus on bringing unbiased reporting of the day’s most important news to a national audience represents a return to the core values of journalism.”
A key figure in the launch of NewsNation is a radio industry veteran: Sean Compton, who spent 18 years in radio as VP/Programming for iHeart predecessor Clear Channel and its Premiere Radio Networks arm before joining Tribune. While at Premiere, he created and developed radio programs and features built around high-profile talent such as Donald Trump, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest. Compton was also responsible for the acquisition of Sean Hannity for Premiere Networks.
Compton was named EVP of WGN America, WGN-AM 720 in Chicago, and Director of Content Acquisition in September 2019.
“Our new state-of-the art studio and newsroom, combined with the expertise of our 150 dedicated reporters, producers, writers, and photo-journalists, and news bureaus in 20 state capitals, affords NewsNation the
flexibility to deliver live coverage of the day’s most impactful news from wherever it occurs—from San
Diego to Burlington, and Portland to Miami,” Compton said. “Our anchors can move seamlessly to locations nationwide and get the story from reporters who get to the scene first and bring fact-based context to their reporting.”
The weekday NewsNation team is led by WGN-9 anchor and former KVOA/Tucson anchor Joe Donlon and Marni Hughes, who has worked at KCPQ-TV in Seattle and KMSP-TV in Minneapolis. Serving as chief meteorologist is Albert Ramon, who was most recently with KVUE-TV in Austin.
Weekend NewsNation anchors are former WFOR-4 in Miami co-anchor Rudabeh Shahbazi and Nichole Berlie, a weekend evening co-anchor and general assignment reporter for WCVB-5 in Boston.
WGN America VP/News Jennifer Lyons said, “We have assembled a great team of award-winning journalists who bring decades of television news experience to NewsNation and are
focused on the mission of bringing unbiased news coverage to a national audience. With the general election just a few months away, the pandemic still going on, social justice issues taking center-stage in cities across the U.S., and the potential for major weather events to impact local communities at any time, the launch of the first new national fact-based news program since 1996 will resonate with viewers across the nation. Viewers are increasingly seeking a national newscast that informs and educates them with facts rather than soundbites, all without telling them what to think. Tonight, NewsNation begins delivering exactly that.”