Few could have predicted how swiftly newspapers would go from being an integral part of people’s daily routines to tottering toward obsolescence. As major markets such as Seattle and Denver have said goodbye to well-established dailies, and the likes of San Francisco and Boston ponder a future without papers that are almost as much a part of the regional landscape as the Golden Gate Bridge and Fenway Park, local television executives are studying what new prospects await them in a paper-free world. There’s lucrative opportunity to reach out to former newspaper advertisers and, perhaps even more significant, there’s a chance to become a more trusted source of local news.
“Where there’s a void, a well-branded TV station will fill in as a news source,” says Hearst-Argyle VP of News Brian Bracco. “We have tremendous brand loyalty, and have to follow up and make sure we’re covering news the way we should in our communities.”