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Adapting key to survival, TV on-air newsmen say


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POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

The shared services agreement between KGMB-TV and KHNL/KFVE-TV was a taboo topic for KGMB anchor Keahi Tucker at the monthly luncheon of the Hawaii Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators yesterday, but attendees nevertheless gained insight into “;The Changing Face of Local Broadcast News,”; the day's theme.

Tucker, KITV reporter Keoki Kerr and KHON anchor Kirk Matthews were the featured panelists who spoke of current challenges, the importance of online social media in news gathering and dissemination, and hope for the industry's future.

“;There's a lot I can't say about the shared services agreement because it's in a legal proceeding,”; Tucker said.

However, he said, “;we're trying to make everything we say relevant and meaningful and interesting ... our challenge going forward is to take on a bunch of new people at Channel 8 and try to bring that philosophy to this new group and keep it alive.”;

; Tucker believes the news standard is higher locally than on the mainland, “;probably because we're more vested in our communities. Our stories are on our families, our neighbors, so we try harder to get things right and be more fair,”; contrasting his Hawaii experience to working in major-market newsrooms.

KITV's Kerr began learning the craft of broadcast journalism at age 16 at KGU-AM 760, “;when radio stations actually had news departments.”; Now, only Hawaii Public Radio sends reporters out to cover news each day, he said.

Without a radio training ground for TV reporters, “;people these days are thrown into it a lot quicker and so I think you see the resulting quality has gone down in a lot of areas, unfortunately, in all areas of media,”; he said.

“;There are fewer people everywhere. We are all doing more, or the same, with less—and sometimes we're doing less with less, let's be honest.”;

“;The strongest independent folks will survive,”; he said. KGMB, KHNL and KFVE “;may be getting together in a marriage across the street, but we're still Channel 4, we're still going to be independent and be putting out our own news every night. We're not just putting a different name on it and then doing it on a different station,”; he said.

KHON's Matthews has been “;doing this for 40 years,”; he said, repeating his tenure for emphasis and laughs. He has seen many industry transitions but said “;the one thing that has not changed is live TV,”; of which news “;is about the last bastion.”;

Despite the prevalence of news online, “;local television, especially in Hawaii, remains a very vital part of the community and I don't see it going away any time soon.”;