WFAA will bring powerful content to partnership with Star-Telegram

04/01/2014 5:37 PM

04/01/2014 5:38 PM

When we look back at it many years from now, I think March 26, 2014, is going to rank as a pretty significant date in the history of the Star-Telegram.

That’s the day we agreed to be content partners with WFAA-TV, the Dallas station that has long had the reputation of being among the best in the country for broadcast journalism.

I came to the Star-Telegram in 1986, and Channel 8’s reputation for having a top-flight news operation was already decades old. That year they broke the story about irregularities in the SMU football program that earned the school the “death penalty” from the NCAA.

Over the years, the WFAA newsroom has dedicated itself to being the best, and the station has rung up a string of “firsts” on a regular basis. According to Wikipedia:

• They were the first local station to broadcast that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated and the first to interview amateur filmmaker Abraham Zapruder, just hours after the tragedy.
• They are credited with being first in the market to have a computerized newsroom, to use a helicopter for newsgathering and to have satellite uplink trucks for remote broadcasts. They also were the first American television station to broadcast a live program from overseas by satellite (from Paris, which featured interviews with the wives of POWs).
• They were the first station in the country to broadcast a digital signal on a VHF channel, and they also broadcast the nation’s first local news program in high definition.

They’ve won a slew of Peabody Awards (the broadcast equivalent to the newspaper industry’s Pulitzer Prizes) and in 2009 they became the first local station to receive duPont-Columbia University’s Gold Baton Award for commitment to investigative journalism.

The roster of current and former journalists at WFAA reads like a who’s who of first-ballot inductees if North Texas ever has a broadcast hall of fame: Tracy Rowlett, Chip Moody, Verne Lundquist, Troy Dungan, Iola Johnson, John Criswell, Gloria Campos, Dale Hansen, John McCaa and Scott Pelley, who is now anchor for CBS News.

Our partnership with WFAA gives both of our organizations the ability to spread our journalism further than either one of us could by ourselves.

The Star-Telegram has the biggest print and digital audience on the west side of the market, while WFAA — the first station to go on the air from Dallas in the early years of TV’s infancy — has been a ratings powerhouse since 1949.

We’ll both be sharing breaking news stories as well as content ranging from sports to business to entertainment.

We also expect that our news staffs will cooperate on joint projects on a regular basis.

WFAA also has a very strong Fort Worth bureau. There’s just so much news going on in Tarrant County that it’s hard for us to send a reporter to everything we want to cover, so having access to Channel 8’s stories will be a big benefit to us.

If you’re a Star-Telegram reader, you’ve probably already noticed several stories in the paper written by WFAA journalists.

At star-telegram.com, you’ll see a link to their stories that will take you to the wfaa.com website so you can read the full story.

And the reverse will be true. You’ll see Star-Telegram content on WFAA’s news broadcasts, and at their website you’ll be able to click on a link to see the complete story we wrote.

Over the years we’ve been partners with all the local TV stations at one time or another — NBC, CBS and Fox.

This is our first chance to be partners with the ABC affiliate, because for a long time they were owned by Belo, owner of The Dallas Morning News. But that changed recently when the Belo TV group was sold to Gannett.

Now that we’ve got our chance, I look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with our partners at WFAA.

About Jim Witt

Jim Witt

@jimelvis

Jim Witt is executive editor of the Star-Telegram.

Email Jim at jwitt@star-telegram.com.

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