TV station lays off news staff in favor of UGC

Just yesterday, as part of a discussion in the Newspaper Video group, I said boldly that TV stations are in far more trouble than newspapers. The disruptions that have hit them and are still coming their way are more powerful than what newspapers face.

Well, I didn’t expect a TV station capitulate as quickly as KFTY in Santa Rosa, which laid off nearly all of its news staff and will now try to get by by on user-generated content.

“We are no longer in a position to access the advertiser base required to maintain two long form newscasts,” he (GM John Burgess) said.

Burgess said the changes were pushed by forces that are roiling most of the media industry, primarily the availability of free and alternative sources of news and entertainment on the Internet, as well as innovations that make it simple for people to post their own opinions on the Web in print, audio and video format.

“In my opinion, we’re all looking at better ways of truly touching our customers and I think for the television industry, if you’re not engaging your viewers and Web site users in two way-interactivity, you’re not going to be growing, especially over the next three to 10 years,” Burgess said.

So, can a commercial news organization survive on just UGC? I guess we’re about to find out, but I’m skeptical. I think the conversation is important, and I think what drives good conversation are paid staff who know what they’re doing. I’m not sure KFTY made the right decision here, but it will be an interesting experiment to watch.

(Hit Tip: Cyndy Green)

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