CBS News has broken new ground both behind the scenes and on the air in collaborating with local TV journalists. For the first time, the network enlisted the help of reporters at local affiliates in reporting an investigative story and featured those reporters on the CBS Evening News.
The story about gas pump rip-offs that aired on Friday included contributions from Mark Greenblatt of KHOU in Houston, Frank Vascellaro from WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and Anna Werner at KPIX in San Francisco.
Werner says CBS came up with the idea of doing the story in cooperation with the stations’ investigative units.
It was a great experience; I worked with senior producer Keith Summa, producer Pia Malbran, and of course Armen Keteyian, to put everything together. They were extremely thorough in checking facts and figures and coming up with angles that worked in each particular market.
One key to the success of the project was that each station got a local package out of it, Werner says, “so that our time in the field and doing research was well spent at the local level as well.”
A cynic might say that CBS turned to its affiliates only because the network no longer has the staff to do this kind of investigation on its own. But the networks have always used affiliate material; what’s different this time is that the local journalists actually got credit for their work and national exposure. And the CBS package didn’t reduce the local reporters to sound bites–they played a major role in telling the story.