When KSAZ, the FOX affiliate in Phoenix, signed up for a helicopter sharing agreement with cross-town ABC affiliate KNXV this week, it was just one recent example of TV stations still pursuing opportunities to pool resources. While the practice of sharing helicopters and video crews among stations may have started as a cost cutting measure years ago, networks like FOX see it as just another tool to give viewers what they want and station owners what they need, according to a report by TVNewsCheck.
Fox and other proponents of the arrangements argue that in making newsgathering more efficient, they are freeing up reporters to concentrate on enterprise stories while curbing big costs, especially those associated with operating helicopters.
Both FOX and NBC are credited with starting the practice of sharing. While NBC has begun paring back its use of pooled resources, FOX’s interest remains strong, agreeing to the practice in 12 of the 16 markets where its stations produce news.
Here’s TVNewsCheck’s breakdown of markets in which FOX has pooling agreements:
1. New York — Video crews: NBC, Fox, Tribune and CBS; helicopter: Fox and CBS. NBC was Fox’s original helicopter partner, but it dropped out earlier this year.
3. Chicago —Video crews: Fox, NBC, Tribune and CBS; helicopter: Fox and NBC.
4. Philadelphia — Video crews and helicopter: Fox and CBS. NBC was Fox’s original partner, but dropped out earlier this year.
5. Dallas-Fort Worth — Video crews: Fox, NBC and Tribune; helicopter: Fox and CBS.
7. Boston — Video crews: Fox and CBS; helicopter: Fox and CBS.
8. Washington — Video crews: Fox and Gannett: helicopter: Fox, Gannett, NBC and Allbritton. NBC dropped out of the video crews earlier his year.
9. Atlanta — Video crews and helicopter: Fox, Gannett and Meredith
10. Houston — Helicopter: Fox, Belo and Post-Newsweek.
11. Detroit — Video crews and helicopter: Fox, Scripps and Post-Newsweek.
13. Phoenix — Video crews: Fox, Scripps and Meredith; helicopter: Fox and Scripps.
14. Tampa — Video crews and helicopter: Fox, Scripps and Gannett
15. Minneapolis-St. Paul — Fox, CBS and Gannett
But the article is also quick to point out that what’s good for business, may not always be whats best for news gathering,
Alan Mutter, a longtime newsman who teaches journalism at the University of California,-Berkeley, agrees. Mutter says news sharing “makes a lot of sense in these days when people are doing more with less.” But the arrangements also spark “a danger of great complacency.”
“There is nothing wrong with sharing assets or video, but there is a huge problem when that sharing leads to little or no reporting,” Mutter says.
You can read the entire article by clicking the link here.