Gray Television’s 5th Anniversary in C’ville

It’s been five years since Gray Television launched CBS-19 and ABC-16 here in Charlottesville. (Here’s the original story.) If asked, I would have guessed it’d been, like, a week and a half. We were all relatively fresh off the C-Ville Weekly / Hook split then, seeing some of the results of competition in our weeklies, and I think hopes were high that the new stations would have a similarly beneficial on the staid NBC-29. Five years later, I’d be curious to hear what folks think about CBS-19, ABC-16, and Fox-27, especially their news coverage, and how they’ve affected NBC-29 and the overall news coverage in town. I can’t get local TV stations—there’s a mountain between me and town—so I’ve never actually seen any of their broadcasts, only online excerpts.

12 thoughts on “Gray Television’s 5th Anniversary in C’ville”

  1. I’m a DirecTV subscriber here in Charlottesville…they still don’t offer local channels so I never see any local television. Am I really missing anything? Everything is online whenever I want it. I’m surprised how many people I meet who never watch local tv either.

  2. I’ve been annoyed by local news show format(in general) for years and years. I don’t watch it, either. I realize I’m missing out on local media, but it’s just do damn annoying. I’d rather read.

  3. They do an adequate job within the narrow construct of local news, I guess. You dont go to them expecting to see someone breaking any news. You go for weather and sports scores and video from the local fair/community event (assuming you dont have an internet connection, of course.) Can’t say they’ve had any impact on the 29 product one way or another.

  4. I really think there are only two channels since 19, 16, and 27 often play the same news story at exactly the same time. It doesn’t make a difference which of them you watch for news.

    They all seem to lack any original news and if it weren’t for press releases would most likely go dark (except for the weather). The very last thing they want to cover is anyone negatively that might buy an ad.

  5. I have only an antenna (modern day rabbit ears at that.) I get all the local channels in HD/SD. I rarely watch any TV, and I do not watch local news.

    I get my local news via RSS feeds from the Daily Progress and CBS19. (And of course.) Why don’t I get RSS feeds from NBC29? I’m not sure really, other than to say that when I started reading news this way, I seem to recall NBC29 either had no RSS feed or a very primitive one.

    At one point I used Waldo’s RSS feeds for local news, such as WINA. I think that broke a while ago, I never bothered to investigate why. It might be working now, or its gone, I don’t know.

    But the point is that I keep up with Charlottesville by using an RSS reader and pulling stories from the DP and channel 19. If I add more local sources, I find my RSS reader ends up with a lot of duplication. I don’t find the 19 stories any better written than those on channel 29. Indeed, I often read a story and contemplate what is missing from it.

    For example, channel 19 has a story online tonight about a sexual assault on the Belmont bridge. They mention the time it happened, and that it happened on the Belmont Bridge, with a few other sparse details. I wonder, how many people reading that article no what bridge is the Belmont Bridge? What road goes over it, and what is it crossing? The article ought to say. I suspect a lot of readers have crossed the Belmont Bridge countless times, but I also suspect a lot of them don’t know it as the “Belmont Bridge” and therefore cannot personally connect to the story.

    I come across things like that a lot in our local news. Not everyone knows all the geography of the area, be it in the city or surrounding counties.

    People retain things they can relate to.

    What if the story said “Just beyond the east end of the mall, the Belmont bridge carries traffic over the railroad tracks behind the Charlottesville Pavilion.” Does that mean more to people?

    It does to me, suddenly I can picture that bridge, the road, the tracks underneath, the Pavilion right beside it … someone was assaulted there? That has a lot more impact to me than “a woman was assaulted on the Belmont Bridge.”

    (Note: the bridge I described may not be the Belmont bridge. I think it is, but hey … that’s my point. I don’t *know*. Why can’t the article say so?)

  6. FlyingRoadstar raises a great point. It’s tough to do stories about crimes that just happened, particularly for TV reporters, because police are usually not forthcoming with details, and there’s not a lot of video to illustrate the story. But giving more detail about where something happened would add more useful information to it.

    If I had to guess, though, I bet the reporter who did that story has lived in Cville less than six months and does not know for sure herself where the Belmont Bridge is.

    I don’t think the lack of negative coverage in this market is because producers are afraid of losing ad revenue, so much as it is because TV reporters here are simply not given the resources to do such stories. Doing a negative story means constant fact-checking, FOIA’ing documents if available, reading through complicated materials and figuring out what they mean, and coaxing people to go on camera who probably don’t even want to speak on the record. Those kinds of stories can take weeks to complete, and you may, if you get lucky, wind up with a 5-minute story that runs in two parts, because the attention spans of TV news viewers are not kind to long, detailed stories.

    It’s much easier and a lot more bang for your buck to just go to whatever pat-on-the-back event is going on that day, grab a talking head or two to discuss how wonderful it all is, and turn it into a one- or two-minute story. Or get one person complaining about something, someone else’s PR spin to balance it out, and call it a “balanced story” that you can do in an afternoon. Are you doing the community a service with that kind of news? Probably not, but you’re filling up air time as cheaply as possible while maintaining enough viewers to still generate enough advertising revenue to make a profit. That’s really what it’s all about.

  7. At one point I used Waldo’s RSS feeds for local news, such as WINA. I think that broke a while ago, I never bothered to investigate why. It might be working now, or its gone, I don’t know.

    I’m glad you mentioned that. It broke because WINA launched an even worse website than their old one, with ever-shifting URLs for their news headlines. I finally gave up. If they’re not going to provide an RSS feed or have a stable, reasonable website that will allow me to screen-scrape an RSS feed, then they’re going to have less readers, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    Too bad—they’re a good source of news. But I, like you, don’t bother anymore. If it’s not coming to me via my RSS reader, it doesn’t exist.

  8. Can someone tell me if I described the right bridge as the Belmont Bridge? I really don’t know. :|

    The DP has the same story today. Theirs is arguably worse … they say the assault occurred on Monticello Rd. No address block to help pinpoint it, and Monticello Rd. is a long road. I’m not sure the bridge I describe is on Monticello Rd, I think Monticello ends at Graves and 9th. So did the assault happen on the bridge? Or somewhere on the road? To me there is a big difference. Monticello Rd is a small, windy, dark even in the daytime road. The bridge is wide open, with more traffic, even at midnight.

  9. I am also a Directv subscriber and can’t get local or extended local channels. However, I have a small tv in kitchen that I use for local channels with the old fashion “rabbit ears” but now digital. Newsplex is a just that — a plex to me. I can pick up all of the NBC29 stations clear, no problem, and can usually get the Newsplex FOX/CBS station with a few of the digital pictures here/there being interuppted . . . clearly no signal for ABC (16). . . what gives with that? My parents purchased a huge antenna and can get ABC in Richmond and Harrisonburg but not Charlottesville. I just happen to be one of those who like to flip the channels and check out the different stories / see who is usually right about the weather, etc. in the morning. Really expected more from the Newsplex particurly since they had 3 channels and one of those no one in our area can pick up! Oh, and of course, my family are die-hard Nascar fans and for the remaining season, Nascar just happens to be on ABC. Way to go – ABC Newsplex.

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