Nieman Lab reported the FCC's spectrum auction last year drove billions of dollars to hundreds of broadcasters across the country. The windfall of cash came from wireless carriers seeking infrastructure for more powerful networks.
Some TV stations are using the money to pay down debt but others, such as PBS39/WLVT in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, are investing in local content such as news.
Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton praised PBS39 for its investment, and for planning to do newscasts that dig into issues. She said the station is hiring ten new reporters and a couple editors, which she said is a lot of people. Crighton said newsrooms can’t dig into many stories if they don’t invest in personnel.
Panelist Will Buss said he would like to see more stations invest in journalism and hire more reporters. And he would like to see more newspapers follow PBS39’s example and place an emphasis on digging into stories.
Panelist Rich Egger said his one concern is whether PBS39 can continue with its news investment once the cash infusion runs out. He said the station will need to find other sources of money to continue with its “deep dive” journalism, which he wholeheartedly supports.
Buss is also concerned about what happens when the cash infusion runs out, but he considers the station’s news investment a risk worth taking.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.