WETC and the Star-News in Wilmington, NC, have taken the first steps down the path of convergence with the launch of a cut-in during the nightly newscast from the newspaperâ€™s newsroom to bring viewers up-to-date on the next dayâ€™s headlines.
The cooperation, which took to the air about two weeks ago, actually began more than a month ago when preparations began for the live shots.
For WECT chief engineer Dan Ullmer, simplicity was the goal in designing the system. The station used a single chip Ikegami ICD-828 with a half-inch CCD and an auto iris in the newspaperâ€™s newsroom.
The setup also required a small sound mixer, an IFB system through the newspaper phone system and a 2GHz transmitter and antenna atop the newspaper building.
Before the project went live, staff members from the newspaper rehearsed for nearly a month to develop their camera presence. According to Ullmer, the rehearsals were recorded and reviewed with assistance from station news director Raeford Brown.
By time the month of training was complete, the on-camera newspaper talent was as comfortable with throwing it back to the WETC anchors as a station reporter in the field.
Often the notion of convergence in the news business is associated with grand plans and sweeping workflow restructurings. Sometimes, as WETC and the Star-News have discovered, convergence can take baby steps that nonetheless deliver giant leaps in improving the news product.