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Ed Bark: Ch. 8 Sale End of an Era in DFW TV News

There’s been a rush to the exits of top talent at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in recent years, and WFAA stalwarts like Gloria Campos, John McCaa, and Dale Hansen have seen their paychecks slashed, TV critic Ed Bark reports. Even so, today’s announced sale of the station and others in the Belo Corp. stable to Gannett Co. Inc. marks the “impending end” of an era in local TV news, Bark writes. And, while the sale did not include the newspaper entity called A.H. Belo, whose “crown jewel” is The Dallas Morning News, he adds, “some expect the other shoe could drop.”

  • Tested

    It would seem for the local owners of Belo the lure of a big payoff on a sale of stock outweighs the benefits of running a good company that makes a good profit. You can bet the newspaper company will be sold soon too.

    That big Belo headquarters building will be empty soon enough and the name will come down. You can also be assured of seeing a mass exodus of folks from WFAA as Gannett takes over and “improves efficiency” by automating newscasts, getting rid of studio camera operators, eliminating live truck engineers, etc. The big names (John, Gloria and Dale) will stay on until their contracts are up, but they won’t be renewed and won’t want to sign a new one anyway.

    If the departure of Tracy Rowlett signaled the beginning of the end of good quality journalism at WFAA, this is the sound of the hammer coming down on the final nails in the coffin. It is a terribly sad thing to see and overall a very bad development for this entire community.

    Someone needs to be doing good journalism here. Someone needs to be watching the city halls, school boards, etc around here. More often than not, that has been WFAA and everyone else has played catch up. My fear is that not too many years from now many problems will go unreported and many who might have feared the glare of a good journalistic spotlight will feel free to do what they wish instead. That’s probably a true statement about most communities around the country with the loss of so many newspapers. I love the internet, but very few websites or bloggers can do the kind of journalism a good newspaper or TV station can.

  • Edward

    “The end of quality news” was my thought exactly when I heard about the sale. Dallas/Ft. Worth viewers have been spoiled over the years watching Channel 8, probably not realizing just how good the news department there has been. When you go to other markets (or watch other local stations even) you can immediately tell: better images, better lighting, more professional newscasts, deeper stories, less fluff and nonsense.

    Just better quality all around. But quality costs money, and it’s clear Gannett won’t be inclined to spend what Belo has in the past. Money will be removed from our local market and siphoned back to corporate.

    I sure wouldn’t want to be working at Channel 8 right now – it’s not just seeing your job disappear, it’s seeing a way of broadcasting slowly slip away, never to return.

  • AmyS

    I hope they don’t kill TXCN. Best state news program in Dallas.

  • Fredrick

    Here we go again. Journalists and broadcasts crying about their declining industry because they haven’t invested in broadening their skills or leveraging their experience in other jobs and industries. Welcome to the real world.

    Channel 8 is the finest newscast in DFW in terms of reporting and broadcast quality. But let’s face it. Their 12 minutes of “hard news” is not the equivalent of the NYT or WSJ. With occasional exceptions (Shipp & Byron), all local newscasts are more entertainment than geeky stuff like civic issues. What are viewers going to lose here besides the bantering of their favorite well-paid anchors?

  • marisa

    Honestly….I skip from channel to channel locally and never learn anything new from what I have read already on the internet. The news stories ( if you call them that) are more about animals and human interest……just filler. On occasion Shipp will have a good story. By selling the Belo, maybe there will be less drama among the news readers and less cackling for the viewers to suffer through.