NewsFix ready to shake up the news

Channel 39's reconfigured newscast set to launch Saturday
By DAVID BARRON
Copyright 2011 Houston Chronicle
March 14, 2011, 6:15PM

NewsFix, Channel 39's much-ballyhooed effort to re-imagine and reconfigure daily newscasts, will launch Saturday with an additional, unexpected twist: Harris County Constable Victor Trevino delivering the station's nightly crime report.

The use of an elected official in an on-camera role for the 5 and 9 p.m. shows is perhaps the most jarring of the nontraditional elements of NewsFix, designed by former Tribune Co. executive Lee Abrams as an effort to blow up traditional newscast forms by eliminating anchors and most on-camera reporters.

Keith Monahan, KIAH's longtime meteorologist, left the station last week, and sports anchor Jorge Vargas' final day with the station will be Friday, general manager Roger Bare said. Anchor Mia Gradney, the center of 39's "Watch me at 9" ad campaign, will remain with the station to deliver news updates throughout the day but will not have an on-camera role with NewsFix.

"We are reallocating the screen time that used to go to anchors and reporters and using that to give the viewer more content," Bare said Monday.

"This will still be serious news. We'll start with local and have national and international segments, and each segment will end with some sort of feature. The tone of the newscast will depend on what the stories of the day are."

NewsFix will be narrated by Gregory Onofrio, who has hosted radio shows in Dallas and Houston under the name Grego. Onofrio also will appear on camera for a segment called "Closing Comments."

Steve Simon, Channel 39's former prime-time anchor, will host a daily segment called "Simon Says," and Dean Myers and Roger Beaty, co-hosts of the morning show on KGLK (107.5 FM) will host a segment called "The Day in Music."

Sports reports will be relegated to the nightly scoreboard "with video, if there is some sort of exceptional video that day," Bare said. KIAH will have a staff meteorologist to analyze weather data, but Onofrio will deliver the nightly weather segment.

The newscast's running order will be displayed on the bottom of the screen, similar to the format used by ESPN's SportsCenter, via a series of graphics that Bare described as "Chiclets," after the chewing gum squares of the same name.

Most of those elements had been talked about since Bare announced last year that Channel 39 would launch NewsFix to replace its low-rated newscasts. Abrams designed the format before leaving Tribune earlier this year after he sent what management described as an objectionable video to company employees.
Interesting. Like a lot of people, I never watch TV news unless there's an important weather event happening. Local news is all publicity releases and cute-kid stories and I have no more faith in national broadcasters to actually identify and report on "news". I would probably take a look at a format without newsreaders or personalities.

Chron