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Bulletin from Captain Obvious: COVID-19 has triggered an explosion of innovation among local station groups. It’s most apparent in the ingenious technical solutions that allow reporters, anchors and producers to do their jobs from home. But stations are also experimenting with content and creating new programs that could point the way to a more flexible and less formulaic approach to storytelling down the road, even when the worst of the crisis has passed.
Scene from Field Notes
One impressive example: Field Notes, a new magazine show on Facebook Watch and other digital platforms produced by Hearst Television and based on the virus-related reporting of its local stations in all 26 of its markets. “I think our stations are producing such incredibly high-quality stories, and they do an excellent job of making sure that those stories find an audience in their markets,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, Hearst Television’s Chief Digital Content Officer. “The idea with Field Notes was…how to refashion that for this new giant story that’s affecting every single one of our markets in the same ways, but also unique ways in each market, and try to pull the threads of all those unique local stories together to tell the larger national story of what’s happening.”
Andrew Fitzgerald (courtesy Hearst)
The producers make liberal use of audio and video from the original coverage, but this is not a cut-and-paste job. The name Field Notes is apt, because each segment is built around what’s in effect the local reporter’s notebook: the journalist