The announcement that KUTV-Ch. 2 plans to begin its own version of 24-hour news on Tuesday signals a basic change in the station's philosophy.
Or, perhaps more accurately, it's the latest symbol of the change in the station's philosophy.Beginning tomorrow, Ch. 2 will offer live, local news updates throughout the day and night. About the only programming that won't be interrupted is other news broadcasts - and at least one of those, "Take Two," will be.
"It's a total station commitment," said station manager Maria Moore. "We're trying to shift the way we're thinking."
Instead of holding breaking news for a regularly scheduled broadcast, Ch. 2 will break the story in its updates. (However, that applies only to breaking news, not longer pieces.)
"Ideally, what 24-hour news can do is bring momentum to our newsroom," said KUTV news director Diane Orr. "I think it's going to energize us."
Ch. 2 has some experience in this area, having programmed 5-min-ute mini-newscasts on CNN Headline News on TCI cable systems for several months.
Research indicates that the majority of Americans, and Utahns, turn to TV as their primary source of news.
"And we want to be that source of news," Orr said. "We want them to be able to turn to us throughout the day and night."WHAT AND WHEN: KUTV's hourly newsbreaks will include local and national hard-news stories as well as weather and sports.
They're planned for the top of the hour, but that doesn't necessarily mean between network programs - some updates will come after a network show has ended but before the credits roll.
Sports programming will not be interrupted at the top of the hour, unless there's a break in the action, but Ch. 2 promises to use crawls (printed messages across the bottom of the screen) if updates are impractical.COMPARISON: So, now that two of our local stations - KUTV and KSL - are advertising 24-hour news, what's the difference between them?
After all, despite strong commitments to news, neither of them are really broadcasting news 24 hours a day. Only CNN does that.
Both KUTV and KSL will have news programming of some sort throughout the day and night, whether it's program-length broadcasts or hourly updates.
The big difference between Ch. 2 and Ch. 5 comes down to local news. Under its ambitious plan, Ch. 2 will have some sort of local news during each hour of the day. Ch. 5 does not.
KSL's 24-hour news service includes newscasts or local cut-ins on the hour each weekday from 6 a.m. until midnight.
The station rebroadcasts its 10 p.m. newscast at 12:35 a.m. And Ch. 5 carries both CBS's "Nightwatch" and CNN Headline News in the wee hours of the morning - which, of course, are the least-watched hours of the day.
But between midnight and 6:25 a.m., when KSL makes its first local insert in "CBS This Morning," local news is not available on Ch. 5.
KUTV is taking a different approach. Ch. 2 already mans its newsroom throughout the night Sunday through Thursday, because of its 6 a.m. local newscast. And those staffers - who, up until now, have not been on-air personalities - will do the updates between midnight and 6 a.m.
"There's not going to be a lot of production involved," Orr said. "We're just going to turn on the lights and the camera. They're not going to be using teleprompters, just scripts they'll be holding.
"I've been telling them not to panic."
Because of the staff that's already on duty, Orr said she's had to add just 11/2 new positions to her overnight crew.
(KSL does not have an early morning newscast but does air the hourlong news/public affairs program "Focus" at 8 a.m.)
Both stations take some time off early Saturdays when their transmitters are down for routine maintenance - Ch. 2 is off the air from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturdays, and Ch. 5 is off from 1:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.
Ch. 5 also goes with CBS newsbreaks at the top of the hour at various times during the day. Ch. 2 promises it will supplement any network news breaks with one of its own at the top of each hour.
Again, both stations will be able to claim some sort of news programming 24 hours a day. But only KUTV will be able to claim to it includes local news in each of those 24 hours.