NexStar one of the largest station group owners in the US will launch a new national primetime newscast from its newly purchased (and former Tribune flagship) WGN Chicago station. They are set to hire hundreds of employees. Apparently they are currently building out a separate newsroom on the 2nd floor of the WGN Building. And they will build a new set in Studio3 featuring video walls. They say Chicago was chosen because its not a coastal city and the programme will not feature NY/LA/DC-centric stories. They will deep dive into the stories from their 5,400 journalists across the country.
The show will be broadcasts on WGN America. The superstation run previously by WGN Chicago. previously the channel created its own dramas and comedies, but since the buy out its only been syndicated programming and reruns. The broadcast will air from 7-9pm. And could be extended for breaking news. Could this be the launch of a 24hr news channel? To early to say, but I think they have a steep hill to climb to make this successful. Too much competition in primetime. Having said that its good to see a national broadcast that focuses on the rest of the country rather than the newsrooms located on the coasts. NexStar hasnt said if WGN anchors and presenters will feature on this new endeavour. Industry publications have cited they could go with high profile presenters if available. Citing Megyn Kelly or Shepherd Smith. (I dont think either are likely. As their salaries would be prove to be astronomical) With this news endeavour this marks the 2nd National news operation run from Chicago. Newsy another streaming news service, operates a significant Chicago operation.
One thing worth noting is Comcast, the nations largest MVPD provider, stopped offering WGN America on all new packages. I just reworked our contract to take advantage of new discounts and they notified that the channel would not be included regardless of which plan. I believe they started back in September 2019 based on the date of the flier they gave me. Based on that it seems to me that they’re planning on pulling the channel.
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.
Well Nexstar is still moving ahead with their national primetime newscast. This is currently being built and headquartered at legacy station WGN Chicago (recently purchased by NEXSTAR) and will appear on their national cable channel WGN AMERICA. NEXSTAR presented an upfront for the advertising launch of the program. It looks promising. I do like the idea that its not located in NY or DC or even LA. I didnt think they were going to make it look this nice. Its impressive. Apparently these renders were just completed as they even have COVID19 shown on the in studio screens.
Looking at the renders, its really really nice. They are going to use one of the available large studios WGN has and then build-out a working newsroom upstairs. It all looks very slick and it will be interesting to see how NEXTSTAR will leverage their local stations across the country to present live coverage. Looking at their mission statement, they will focus on live breaking stories and weather. Bringing in Meterologists from their nearly 200 stations to present likely tornado coverage or whatever breaking weather story is happening. I also wonder if they will eventually transition this programme into a longer evening broadcast, rather than just primetime. Their aim is not to be opinionated. Which is nice, but I think what bears watching as is the whole social media aspect, which is important. BUT station groups have tried and miserably failed in presenting social media focused broadcasts. They just dont really work on tv. So far a thumbs up from me. Bears watching.
NEWSNATION upfront website:
The new programme has been scheduled to launch Sept 1. They have hired anchors and the newsroom and studios are still being constructed at WGN Chicago.
According to Chicago Media writer Robert Feder:
A Monday-through-Friday anchor team has been hired, studios are under construction, and a September 1 target date has been announced for the launch of “News Nation,” the primetime national newscast from WGN America. The identity of the anchors and other on-air talent remains under wraps, but in an earnings call with analysts Wednesday Nexstar Media Group chairman and CEO Perry Sook said plans are proceeding despite business challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Airing from 7 to 10 p.m. seven nights a week, the newscast will originate from WGN America’s Chicago headquarters and reach a potential audience of more than 75 million homes. Jennifer Lyons, former news director of WGN-Channel 9, was named vice president of news for WGN America in January. Vowing that “News Nation” would be “100 percent absent of bias,” Sook said: “We’re so serious about that we’re hiring a panel of rhetoricians to review our broadcasts for unconscious bias that may creep into the words we use and the reporting that we do.”
FTVLIVE has more tidbits about the impending launch of NewsNation from WGN Chicago. Apparently Nextstar will create 5-6 regional reporting bureaus. And reporters and management is being poached from Flagship WGN and other Chicago stations.
FTVLive told you that Nexstar’s News Nation cable newscast has set a date of September 1st for the launch on WGN America.
Nexstar had hoped to launch in July and has been telling staff hired and potential hires that what was going to happen. But now, they have pushed back the launch to September, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic more than anything.
As for what is happening behind the scenes at Nexstar’s News Nation, this is what our sources are telling us is going down.
Sources say the plan is to divide Nexstar nation into 6 to 10 zones with zone managers overseeing the affiliate contributions.
There will be at least 5, if not 6 bureaus - L.A., Dallas, Chicago, DC, New York City - and possibly Atlanta or Miami and Denver for field reporting.
As for those interviewing for jobs, due to the pandemic and internal politics, those that live in Chicago or have ties to WGN or former Tribune stations seem to move to the top of the list.
Richard Magin was poached from NBC Chicago to come be a Managing Editor.
WGN management is very active in the interview process with potential employees.
Yesterday, FTVLive told you that longtime WGN (Chicago) Reporter Nancy Loo was joining News Nation and would be based in LA.
Sources say don’t be surprised to see other WGN staffers moving over to News Nation. Don’t be shocked in WGN Anchor and Investigative Reporter Lourdes Duarte isn’t one of those.
With it launching in the election run up (until Trump realises Coronavirus might be the excuse for emergency legislation that makes him President forever!) which way is this likely to lean politically. From the potential names suggested I'm guessing more Fox News than CNN.
Not sure what names you are referring to, but apparently its not going to lean either way. A recently published article indicated that most of the hires will not be nationally known. So its its unlike you will see former Fox News people crop up, especially the chronically toxic Megan Kelly. They made a point of saying it will be unbiased. Thats their selling point. They apparently have a installed a coverage review panel that will monitor coverage to ensure it doesnt lean any one way politically. But seeing as they will cover other news than deep diving into politics like the newschannels, its hard to think that politics will be a lynchpin like it is for the coastals. According to the press coverage they are claiming this is their selling point. Also its headquartered in the city of Chicago, (the only city that ran Trump out of town forcing him to cancel his racist rally). NewsNation is an outgrowth from WGN, which doesnt lean in any particular direction strongly and their respected head is well know in media circles for being fiercely unbiased. But all this remains to be seen.
WGN America Pivots in Primetime to News Nation
WGN America is crafting a noteworthy new strategic direction for its primetime schedule. That direction, which executives from the Nexstar-owned cable network call a major pivot, is News Nation, a three-hour block of live newscasting that, starting this summer, will operate from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time and repeat from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET. The pivot is in response to the increased appetite by viewers for news, as well as a reaction to cord-cutting and the plethora of OTT platforms and streaming entertainment available today.
When this multimillion-dollar venture turns on, viewers will see news coverage that harnesses a team of 150-plus journalists and production staff working from Chicago, along with some 5,400 correspondents across the country based at Nexstar’s 196 broadcast stations and 110 newsrooms — which currently produce over 259,000 hours of news programming a year. At the same time, News Nation will exist 24/7 as a programming service through its NewsNationNow.com website and dedicated mobile app, with a goal of launching TV-connected devices down the road.
News Nation is by far the most ambitious original effort yet for WGN America. Under previous owner Tribune Media (acquired by Nexstar last September), the network experimented with original scripted series in 2013, resulting in Underground, Manhattan, Outsiders and other acclaimed Americana-themed dramas. Four years later, the original focus shifted to crime/mystery hours acquired from Canadian and overseas producers, such as Carter, Gone and Pure.
WGN America’s ad sales drive for News Nation is underway, with sponsors able to support the format in several ways: national commercial minutes, segment sponsorships and multi-platform deals.
“The reception in the marketplace has been great,” says Dave Rotem, the channel’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “The many clients and agencies we’ve met with think our model is a game changer because it's unique and exclusive. It can’t be replicated. No one has the infrastructure of the No. 1 local news station group that, combined with WGN America, reaches 100 million homes and 210 DMAs.” Rotem also points out that News Nation will have the same journalistic integrity and credibility as Nexstar's award-winning local stations.
“Advertisers know that the value of live programming, from a ratings standpoint, is much stronger than running off-network sitcoms or hour-long dramas,” Rotem adds. “Viewers watching news are more engaged and more likely to make purchasing decisions.”
For Sean Compton, WGN America’s executive vice president, News Nation represents the ability to deliver a clear alternative to the all-news channel marketplace, while opening up a nightly news/information window for TV networks aimed at a wide audience. “What we see is an opportunity to be truly right down the middle, serving America,” he explains. “We’re looking to reach people who don’t want the talking heads on the [all-news] networks. They’re looking for straight news, to be informed every night. We want to cover stories more from the heartland, instead of just from the D.C. beltway or New York City.”
Rotem points out that there is a large, underserved news audience that just wants the facts. “They are politically agnostic,” he says. “They don’t want bias. They’ll make up their own minds. We have the opinionated cable news networks like MSNBC and CNN that address the left side of the spectrum, and Fox News represents the right side of the spectrum. Our positioning is in between where there is a void of unbiased news programming in primetime.”
News Nation can tap that audience base with the resources that Nexstar’s local TV station universe provides. What’s more, Compton notes, the landscape to introduce a service with those resources couldn’t be better, given the recent big jump in overall TV and all-news network viewing due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. “They’re soaring now because viewers turn to local news during times of crisis and uncertainty for reliable, trusted information,” he explains. “Nexstar has every corner of the country covered, and everything in-between.”
With Nexstar reporters available nationwide, News Nation will spend as much time on coverage from the field as possible. Breaking news coverage will be a priority, but the newscast will also tackle a developing story, issue or trend in one location, and then explore how that situation is playing out elsewhere. Recurring segments will focus on business/finance trends, weather, the entertainment scene, health matters, technology and other subjects.
Rotem compares the programming format to NFL RedZone, NFL Network’s fall specialty channel that takes viewers from one crucial live moment in a pro football game to another on Sunday afternoons. “We’re going to do that with local news that has national implications and relevance,” he says. “When the Kobe (Bryant) helicopter crash happened, KTLA, the Nexstar station in Los Angeles, was on it immediately [and] provided footage to all the networks. That story became a national story. That’s an example of how this format is set up.”
Work on News Nation’s Chicago studio and staff is on track, Compton says. The anchor people are on board, with announcements on that group, and the exact launch date, forthcoming. There’s a possibility that the website and mobile app will launch a week or two beforehand.
They did mention there will be a digital component. WGN America is not widely available across the country any more as in the past. Its not even widely available in its home market of Chicago apparently. So i wouldnt be surprised if there wasnt going to be streaming component made available. Many of Nexstar's stations already have streaming apps available on Roku, etc. It would see like a waste not to make it available in the streaming realm.
When this multimillion-dollar venture turns on, viewers will see news coverage that harnesses a team of 150-plus journalists and production staff working from Chicago, along with some 5,400 correspondents across the country based at Nexstar’s 196 broadcast stations and 110 newsrooms — which currently produce over 259,000 hours of news programming a year. At the same time, News Nation will exist 24/7 as a programming service through its NewsNationNow.com website and dedicated mobile app,
with a goal of launching TV-connected devices down the road
WGN America's News Nation: Rediscovering Local Journalism on TV
Planning to launch this summer, WGN America's News Nation will broadcast seven nights per week from Chicago. News Nation plans to cultivate a tone of "to the point" reporting, delivered from the Heartland. In an era where the line between news and commentary has been all but erased entirely, News Nation, as WGN's Vice President, News Jennifer Lyons (pictured at top) indicated to me, aims to serve those eager for a return to the proverbial "just the facts" in on-air reporting. Lyons, who spent decades in local news in the Midwest, will be guiding much of News Nation's content approach. In addition to bringing some of the best features of local news reporting to a national primetime audience, Lyons also emphasized the need to appeal to the large segment of Americans, who are politically moderate, particularly at a time when cable news tends to indulge the political extremes. As Lyons put it, "We're news from the center, so we're not going to tell the story from any certain perspective. That's going to be what we make sure we do."
With a concept reminiscent of the Chicago Tribune's mission of being " committed to Midwestern values and concerns, and bring[ing] that sensibility to the public debate," News Nation looks to distinguish itself from primetime news shows that primarily broadcast from coastal cities such as New York and Washington. In a post-2016 discourse that has increasingly worried about the effect of so many journalists operating from a handful of coastal cities, various commentators have emphasized the need to provide perspectives representative of the rest of the country. Chicago fits the bill in that respect. And, at the same time, broadcasting from Chicago — like broadcasting from New York — still enables producers to draw from a wide array of university professors, medical doctors, and scientists living in the area to share their thoughts and expert takes in-studio.
In addition to bringing the Midwest into focus, News Nation plans to draw extensively from coverage provided by Nexstar Media Group's (WGN's parent company) 5,500 journalists dispersed throughout the country, across 110 newsrooms. As such, News Nation's approach aims to bring something of a local news feel to a national audience. For Lyons, there is also the thought that local journalists are the most trusted journalists. As she told me, "All of our reporters live in the community where they work. So they're not dropping in and reporting on the story that they only know a little bit about or read about on the plane as they fly there." At a time when accounts of local newspapers shuttering throughout the country are far too frequent, perhaps some of this lost local journalism can be re-discovered on television.
This comes at an opportune time. Our political discourse today has departed drastically from former House Speaker Tip O'Neill's dictum that "All politics is local" — to the point now that nearly the precise opposite has come to pass. Today, many political questions have been nationalized and, thus, have become merged with partisan politics. News coverage, which is often linked inextricably with politics, has followed a similar trajectory. So, News Nation aims to take the sleuthing of thousands of local journalists throughout the country and make that the backbone of a primetime news show. Seeking to reverse the trend of downplaying the particular and local in favor of the general and the national, News Nation hopes to re-emphasize close-to-home reporting and ideally, in turn, leave some of the partisanship and grandstanding behind.
News Nation's concept, in practice, will look to feature the best stories from newsrooms across the country and bring them to primetime. There will be a mix of feel-good stories, stories that — though happening in just one city — might serve as a microcosm for America at-large, as well as those bits of news that are universal in their resonance and appeal. And, like is true in much of the local news world, News Nation will give significant airtime to weather-related stories. All the while, News Nation — unlike many of its primetime competitors — will feature a near-identical format on weekends as weekdays.
Given the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, I asked Lyons how she anticipates News Nation would approach crises such as that of this pandemic. Indeed, many news networks experienced ratings bumps during the month of March from CNN's 193% to Fox News' 66%. Local news broadcasts are also seeing ratings move higher; across Nexstar's local station group, household ratings for afternoon news were up 25% and late-evening news ratings were up 27% from the beginning of March to the end of the month. At WTNH-TV, Nexstar's New Haven television station, late evening news ratings were up an incredible 60% during March.
Still, recent polling data from Kekst CNC indicated that the network news industry has seen a large decline in public esteem during (and presumably as a result of) the pandemic. (According to Kekst CNC, public confidence in the media has fallen 21% in the United Kingdom and 14% in the United States.) Lyons indicated that News Nation's approach to covering crises such as that of the Coronavirus would be to "be the local journalist bringing you the national story...and that — in and of itself — will add the credibility that others might not be able to hold onto. At the local level, we're not telling people how to think." For Lyons, much of the news media space is now a world away from the basics of reporting taught in journalism schools throughout the country: Provide the facts of the story, not your opinion.
With political polarization and partisanship continuing to overwhelm our national discourse, this has also seeped into news reporting, with fewer than half of Americans indicating their belief that the news media is succeeding at reporting "political issues fairly." Although to seek to isolate a single variable in explaining public frustration with news reporting, it would not be unreasonable to expect that partisanship in reporting — combined with sensationalism — shoulders much of the blame. It is for this reason, surely, that a number of emerging news projects are branding themselves as an alternative to the politicized and the overdramatized—and why News Nation has chosen the course that it has.
Early pictures of the new set and newsroom under constuction for NewsNation at WGN. It looks very similar to the sketches that were released. Im really loving how this is turning out. Mind you, Ive never been a fan of brick, but this is treatment hopefully will look clean and modern with some texture. One change from the sketches, is that brick wall will seemingly have "windows" Its hard to say, but it seems likely those spaces will be either video panels or duratrans. They were not show in the video preview, but whatever is going to be there, looks better than the original blank brick wall they had before.
The newsroom and additional broadcasting location.
Makeshift working newsroom whilst they gear up to the September 1 launch. This located in one of the spare WGN Studios. Eventually all of that will move into the newly built newsroom upstairs.
Here is the first promo with talent. Featuring main anchor from WGN News Chicago (also owned by Nextstar) He didnt have to go far. NewsNation of course HQ'd in Chicago at WGN. Several of the bureau editors are from WGN and dispersed across the country to head bureaus in NYC and LA.
NewsNation set is now finished. Its looks fantastic. Its big and airy and bright. Apparently it was designed by the always brilliant CLICKSPRING. Its definitely network level design. I really like the 2 story video wall and balcony. This hopefully will look fantastic on air. I have never been a fan of brick, but I think a lighter version of it works and the wood on the floor looks good. I like the "stone" application used on the walls. The only concern I have is the view from the anchor desk when its pivoted toward the 2 story video wall and the brick between the "windows". If its badly blocked on camera shots, it will look like a brick dungeon, even though its brightly lit.
You can really see how weather is going to play a central role in their coverage. The blue floor application leading up the stairs into the weather centre and then that huge vertical video wall. Especially on severe weather days. It will be interesting to see how they integrate their local meteorologists in this national broadcasts. If there is a tornado on the ground, will they simply take live affiliate coverage?