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Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy on How Social Media Has Changed Local News

jack abernethyFox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy gives a wide-ranging interview to TVNewsCheck about expanding his station group, projected growth for 2014 and the ways social media has changed the local news industry:

I can think of at least three ways social media and Twitter have really had an impact. When you have a station that’s very aggressive with using that kind of stuff, it changes the way they do news. The late news is going to come on and cover fires, car accidents and the traditional police blotter news. As you get into social media, you may find out people aren’t as interested in that as they are in other stories. So if your anchor is tweeting, if your people are on Facebook, they find out. They say: “You know something? We could do more interesting  stories.” So, the back and forth that you get from social media will change the focus of a news operation.

Second is newsgathering. We had an example in Detroit. There is a standoff. We show up. Somebody is barricaded. We have no information. We sent a tweet to the police chief and he sends back information. So now we have something. Then somebody two rooms down — it was in a hotel — is also following our reporter and sends information to our reporter: “I’m two rooms down; I’m hearing noise.”

Another is research. You put something out on Facebook, that we’re going to be doing such and such. What do you think? Nobody answers. It’s a story no one cares about. Or, you get a million comments, people are really interested in it. That’s research, OK?

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