Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Broadcaster hires local journalists instead of 'parachute coverage'

An ambitious new project at TVO, a nonprofit educational television network in Toronto (similar to PBS), aims to cover a broader area of Canada in its current affairs show The Agenda with Steve Paikin. So far, so normal. But it's how the $2 million Ontario Hubs project accomplishes this that's interesting: Instead of dispatching in-house journalists from Toronto for short-term "parachute" coverage, TVO has hired four journalists from around Canada who have deep ties to their region, as well as one roving on-air reporter, a copy editor, and a regional editor. The reporters act as one-person bureaus and can bring knowledgeable, in-depth stories to Toronto, Karen Ho writes for the Columbia Journalism Review. To help manage costs, local universities have agreed to provide TVO reporters with office space, studio space, and access to high-speed internet in exchange for internship opportunities.

John Ferri, TVO’s vice president of current affairs and documentaries, says the project is important because of decreasing local news coverage in rural areas. "You're seeing less and less journalism on the ground, and it's affecting smaller communities," he said. "There's really a sense of something fundamental that's lost."

"The model presents an approach that could be replicated in underserved parts of the US, where the loss of local-news reporting is at a crisis point as newspapers close and remaining outlets orchestrate round after round of layoffs," Ho writes.

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