8 May 2008 10:49 am   //   Filed under: Media

News is free for NBC

The Times reports that NBC is planning to start a 24-hour local news channel in New York. It will air on cable and, I’m guessing, on one of WNBC’s new digital channels. The news content will also be repurposed for other platforms, like those annoying video screens in the back of taxis.

Round-the-clock local news seems like a staff-intensive idea that would be certain to lose money, but New York 1 has made it work for years. How? Around town NY1 has a reputation for being a supercool place to work, where employees get paid chicken scratch. Your compensation is that superior feeling you get each time tell people what you do. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m jealous of everyone who works there.

With NY1 owning the market on journalistic hipness, how is the super-square WNBC going to compete? The article tells us:

“Providing round-the-clock live news will not require NBC to hire more employees for the new channel; it plans to rely instead on expanding the duties of its present staff members…”

This is a signal that NBC considers local news so easy to gather and of so little value that it shouldn’t cost anything to provide more of it.

I wonder how much they spend on helicopter fuel compared to salaries for journalists.