As local stations nationwide struggled with how to replace “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in their programming lineup, a new idea emerged at KOMU, the NBC-affiliate in Columbia, MO: a social-media driven newscast that would connect viewers from all over the world through “hangouts,” 10-person video chats on Google+.

“There is something magical about bringing people in from around the world in a singular space to discuss the day’s news,” KOMU’s Sarah Hill, who has anchored the 4 p.m. newscast since its debut on September 12, told TVSpy. “Globally, we are reducing the space between us.”

Hill pointed to a recent segment about Kenza Drider, who is running for president of France and targeting the country’s ban on Islamic face veils, as an example of the benefits from the hangout-style newscasts (watch video of the hangout segment inside). Read more