How Newspapers Shape Local TV

I've got a new cover story, on the web now and in print tomorrow, on WPRI-TV's ambitious play for Rhode Island's screens: television, the web, and mobile.

In the course of reporting the piece, I spoke with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute. He had a lot of interesting things to say about the evolution of local television news - many of which didn't make it into my story.

Among the most compelling: Rosenstiel pointed out that local TV news outfits have long been shaped by the strengths and weaknesses of the metropolitan newspapers in their midst. In San Francisco, where the Chronicle never matched the sophistication of its hometown, TV stations filled the void with more-serious-than-usual newscasts. And in Miami, where the Herald was piling up Pulitzers, tabloid-style broadcast news was born.

I think there's a strong corollary in Providence, where WPRI blogger Ted Nesi has filled some of the gaps in the ProJo's coverage.

But what's striking to me about Ted's work is that it doesn't qualifty as particularly niche-driven. It's not as if he's burrowed into a couple of obscure beats that no one would expect a diminished daily paper to cover. He writes, primarily, about two big topics: politics and economics.

That he's found so much of consequence to say there is, of course, a testament to his pluck and skill. But it also says something about the size of the blind spots at the ProJo.  

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