After several delays, executives at NBC Universal and WNBC-4 are at last on the verge of launching their 24 hour, 7-day-a-week “hyper-local” digital news channel in New York, The Observer has learned.
NBC executives first announced their plans to launch the digital, cable channel back in May of 2008. Initially, the plan was to roll out the channel (which, at the time, various news reports described as a potential challenger to Time Warner’s NY1) by the fall of 2008. But the channel’s debut has since been delayed a number of times.
What exactly the channel will look like has been a hot topic of speculation in recent months among local TV newshounds in New York.
Now the wait is almost over.
Earlier this week, in an internal email obtained by The Observer, Michael Horowicz, WNBC-4’s News Manager told staffers that the launch of the channel, dubbed “New York Nonstop,” is “imminent.”
In the email, Mr. Horowicz provided staff with some guidelines on what the channel will be looking for. Along the way, he told staffers that their “pieces should not look like traditional news pieces” and should “look live” by using “swish pans,” and “dutch angles.”
The manager also warned staffers that if they failed to follow such guidelines that NBC Universal managers would probably “turn it into a lifestyle channel and we’ll have one less platform in which to showcase our work, and you know what will happen next.” Over the past year, WNBC-4 has let go a number of veteran staffers while transforming the station’s traditional newsroom into a so-called “content center.”
Here’s the full text of the email:
“The debut of New York Nonstop is imminent. It is, as Magic Johnson called it in the late 1980’s, “Showtime.” Some of you have been great about doing pieces during this dress rehearsal phase, others… not so much.
Here are some guidelines:
“1. BE ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE. Don’t wait to be assigned by the NY Nonstop staff. If it’s good enough for WNBC, it’s good enough for NY Nonstop. Consider this the Noon live shot you’d have to do if you worked at the competition, but with a lot less hassle.
“2. BE TIMELY. If you can’t feed your piece in early, I need to know why. You can feed on your laptop while your shooter is covering the news conference. If everyone were to feed in their contribution at the end of the day, then our mission wil have failed. They’ll turn it into a lifestyle channel and we’ll have one less platform in which to showcase our work, and you know what will happen next. I cannot overemphasize this point.
“3. PRODUCTION. This actually makes your lives easier. Your pieces should not look like traditional news pieces. Indeed, they can’t, with the possible exception of the 7PM
Power Hour. If it looks like a news piece, viewers will just keep clicking. You will probably get guidance from your platform mangers, if not, please feel free to consult me. Think “look live,” (“I’m standing on line with some people buying lottery tix,” and then walk down the line talking to people all in one take. Simple. Easy.) Think swish pans, dutch angles- but try to make it look different. Sometimes, your contribution will just be a series of soundbites butted together. If it looks like a newscast, we’re dead. It will also look out of place compared to all the other content on the channel
“It is within our power to make this channel the talk of the town… in a good way.”