KDVR Bolsters Investigate Staff to Better Compete

Jul 25, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Fox-owned KDVR-TV in Denver beefed up its investigative staff earlier this month to compete head-on in the investigative arena with the other TV stations in Denver. The station now counts four reporters, rather than one, in the unit. The team began reporting together earlier this month.

“I would say what we have done puts us on par with what’s in the market,” said Bill Dallman, VP of news at KDVR. Denver is a competitive market for investigative coverage, with McGraw Hill-owned ABC station KMGH-TV, Viacom-owned CBS station KCNC-TV and Gannett Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate KUSA-TV all boasting sizable investigative units.

Tom Martino has been with KDVR as its consumer investigative reporter since the station introduced news more than three years ago. He’s now joined by three additional reporters to augment his coverage and form the Fox 31 Undercover team. The new additions are reporters Charles Leaf, Kirsten Chapman and Kristal Griffith.

Mr. Leaf recently joined from Fox-owned WJBK-TV in Detroit, where he earned an Emmy award for a story on child abduction. Ms. Chapman has been with KDVR since 2000, producing consumer and investigative reports. Now that will be solely her responsibility and she will also report for the unit. Ms. Griffith joined in March after serving as an investigative reporter at Fox-owned WGHP-TV in Greensboro, N.C., where she received an Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting.

KDVR has covered investigative stories before, but besides Mr. Martino’s work, the coverage has been spread out among general assignment reports, Mr. Dallman said. The new unit both allows for a dedicated investigative crew and for general assignment reporters to focus on daily news. The four reporters will also have a photographer working solely in their unit. Mr. Dallman oversees the unit.

The station took an innovative approach to staffing the new department. Mr. Dallman said KDVR repurposed a few open positions within news and other departments to make room for the investigative staffers. That includes a programming position and an assignment desk position for which the resources were diverted.

“To do the excellent work that viewers expect in this market, we have to make this kind of commitment, and it did require focusing resources from other parts of the newsroom and the station as well,” he said.

While the team will produce stories throughout the year, Mr. Dallman said, he’ll also still concentrate on sweeps periods as well, when stations crank up the promotional juggernaut behind investigative coverage.

He expects reports about three to five nights a week during sweeps and a few times a week during nonsweeps periods, he said. “We have to work every day, but we get a report card four times a year and it is important to do well during those report card periods,” he said.

The group’s coverage started earlier this month and has included a report on how an 86-year-old Alzheimer’s patient was allegedly assaulted in an assisted living home, and five of the people who tried to blow the whistle on the situation were fired. “As a result of this story, the police started an investigation and there is a big shake-up of the home,” Mr. Dallman said.

KCNC Plans to Increase Diversity

Denver’s Viacom-owned CBS station KCNC-TV said it is the first U.S. station to link with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ Parity Project, designed to increase diversity in both TV news coverage and newsrooms and to develop future minority broadcast journalists. Specifically, the Parity Project will attempt to increase the number of Latinos in the TV news business. Recent census figures show that 32 percent of Denver residents are Latino, KCNC said.

WABC , ABC-Owned Stations to Roll Out AccuWeather Desktop Tool

WABC-TV in New York is slated to become the first of the ABC-owned group to introduce a customized version of AccuWeather’s desktop marketing tool. Like other desktop weather products, it provides local forecasts, breaking news and severe weather information. The desktop application remains on the user’s computer and includes the station’s brand.

On the Move

Viacom-owned CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago said former Chicago Bears player and coach Mike Ditka has joined the station as a contributor to the 10 p.m. news sportscast. He’ll start at the beginning of the NFL preseason. He most recently worked at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago. … Young Broadcasting’s independent station KRON-TV in San Francisco named Mark Antonitis president and general manager. He most recently served in the same post at Young’s CBS station KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D. Mr. Antonitis will replace Dino Dinovitz, who plans to retire at the end of the year.