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Tribune camera brings L.A. Times, KTLA closer

Mar 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

During California’s March 5 election primary, Los Angeles Times political reporter Mark Barabak appeared on the newspaper’s Tribune-owned sister station KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, live from the newspaper’s newsroom.
It was a soft launch of the much-anticipated synergy between the WB affiliate and the newspaper, which was the crown jewel in Tribune’s Times Mirror acquisition a couple of years ago.
Although the live shot from the Los Angeles Times newsroom was low-key, it did not go unnoticed by rival stations, because the newspaper is the city’s publication of record.
Those involved concede it will take time for the print and broadcast cultures to get used to working together instead of competing in the Los Angeles market, but both parties view it as a win-win situation. “It’s great to build our brand,” said KTLA General Manager John Reardon. “It’s great to be in a partnership with the L.A. Times on a news front, and we look forward to continuing to share resources.”
Installing cameras in newspaper newsrooms is not a new concept for Tribune. As part its overall strategy to take advantage of corporate synergy, Tribune’s Chicago WB affiliate WGN-TV has had a camera at the company’s Chicago Tribune operation for several years. Tribune’s Western Regional Manager for Multimedia Tim Williams said Tribune’s New York WB affiliate WPIX-TV began using its camera in Tribune-owned Newsday’s newsroom last summer, and for the past six months the company’s Hartford, Conn., Fox affiliate WTIC-TV has been using a camera setup in the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant newsroom.
Camera placement
Regarding the Los Angeles Times setup, Joe Russin, the Times’ assistant managing editor for multimedia, said, “Tribune took over this property, and they already owned KTLA, [so] it was another natural move to put a camera here,” Mr. Russin said.
A previously installed KTLA camera on top of the historic Times building has been providing the station with 360-degree views of downtown L.A. and traffic shots. The Los Angeles Times newsroom camera, installed last fall but not put into operation until the recent primary election, is in a set on the third-floor newsroom, which features two chairs and a plexiglass backdrop adorned with the Los Angeles Times logo and Web site address.
A full-time camera operator, Michelle Maltaise, is stationed next to the set. She is also responsible for turning on the set lights and attaching microphones to the interviewees. On the second floor, there is a control room and several edit bays and a booth with a microphone where reporters can be interviewed on the radio or record voice-overs for video pieces the newspaper has been putting on its Web site for the past year. The newsroom camera also can be operated from the control room and from the KTLA studio. Eventually, if all goes according to plan, the camera will be operated from any Tribune station that has a password for remote operation. The cameras are connected via an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network, which transfers the video feed from the camera to other Tribune properties. Tribune employee Jeff Gear wrote the proprietary software for the computer browser technology that controls the camera from any location.
“Any of the Tribune broadcast stations that are connected to the ATM network and have the ATM devices will, via the browser and ATM network, be able to take a feed from any of our locations with newsroom cameras,” said Mr. Williams, who last week was in the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau to complete installation of a similar KTLA-accessible camera setup there. He added that video from the Times’ Washington bureau can be fed to the Tribune Media Center in Washington, where it can then be relayed to all Tribune stations. As soon as staffers are finished with training, the camera will be used, Mr. Williams said.
“I expect in the future that we will be able to, for all of our Tribune properties, exchange video assets the same as we do news assets, Mr. Williams said. “That will allow us to have interviews with reporters from any of our publishing locations. We’re moving quickly on that.”