WLNE's filing for protection against its creditors is the latest sign of trouble for a station that has long trailed in the ratings. But it is also emblematic of larger struggles for local television, which has been hit hard by the recession.
Local newscasters, as I wrote in a Phoenix piece last year, have shed live, on-scene reporting and cut back heavily on investigative reporting in the midst of the downturn.
But there are some signs of life. Stephen DelPico, general sales manager at WJAR, says the station's advertising sales are up 20 percent in the first half of the year over the first six months of 2009, due in large part to a resurgence in the automotive industry. The newsroom, meanwhile, has hired a couple of reporters in recent months, Katie Davis among them.
WPRI, which has long trailed WJAR in the ratings race, bested its rival among key demographics with its 11 p.m. news in May - for the first time since 1993. And the station recently hired Ted Nesi, formerly of Providence Business News, to beef up its web site with lengthier, print-style stories.
Television news, of course, can never provide the depth of the print media. But it has played an important role in the market in the past. And with one of the state's three major stations in obvious trouble, revival has never seemed so important.