Five years ago, Justin Gould was attending St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York when he made a decision that would alter his future forever. Rather than face another semester confined to a campus where his tweets and thoughts would be censored, he decided to leave the liberal arts college and return to his hometown of Falconer, New York to expand a dream that he had been pursuing since he was 11.
Gould, 24, had been sketching the outline of what is now considered one of the fastest-growing independent digital newsrooms in the Northeast. WNY News Now is a fully functioning 24/7 operation with a robust social media following, a popular app, and the latest technology that produces daily newscasts for the Western New York Community.
As a high school student, Gould excelled in the classroom and was beloved by his classmates. He made morning announcements each day and even scored a job at a local radio station at the age of 16. A year later, he began to network with seasoned journalists who would take him along on major news stories. As he began to gain more confidence with his productions and writing skills, Gould’s vision was coming into focus.
At the end of the week, he used the B-Roll he collected from those stories to construct his own newscasts. His friends would assist him in creating these shows. The cast included a co-anchor, a producer, and a gaffer. He rearranged his mother’s house to resemble the news studio, culminating in the production of the Justin Show. The show aired on his “network” YouTube channel. That channel would later play a key role in the launch of his own news company, WNY News Now.
As newspapers around the country fold and local television stations struggle to get eyes on its local news products, more entities are collaborating to accommodate the changing face of local news dissemination. WNY News Now operates out of Jamestown, New York which has been celebrated as Lucille Ball’s hometown. The city’s proximity to Buffalo and Erie, Pennsylvania makes for an interesting set-up. As the city struggles to come to grips with higher than usual poverty rate and a surge in cartel-funded drug distribution, Gould’s newsroom is pumping out stories around the clock.
Gould’s newsgathering and production skills have captured the attention of WICU-TV in Erie, Pennsylvania. Starting Monday, WICU and WNY News Now will enter into a unique content-sharing agreement that may prove to be a blueprint for digital startups and television newsrooms around the country.
Gould recently sat down with Barrett News Media to discuss the partnership with WICU and his own journey to own the all-digital newsgathering operation, WNY News Now.
Ryan Hedrick: Why did you decide to start WNY News Now?
Justin Gould: I felt there was a gap in television news coverage in my hometown. Jamestown, NY is lucky to get a 2-minute mention on evening newscasts in the Buffalo market. My company fills that void, providing a hyper-local alternative for news consumers, and advertisers looking to take advantage of the ever-growing viewership
RH: Describe your market and who your competitors are?
JG: Jamestown, and Chautauqua County, has about a half-a-dozen news media outlets, most ranging from small to medium scale newspapers and three main radio station groups, however, as a television news provider, we rule the roost providing exclusive video content for most stories that we only share with our media partners.
RH: Describe your experience in college and how it shaped the way you deliver news?
JG: College is an excellent place for budding journalists to learn skills, however, it is not the be-all and end-all. For me, I found I have learned more in the field than in the classroom. With that said, college is a great place for young reporters to make mistakes and learn from them. For me, I’m grateful for my time in school. It taught me the value for writing, yet I had to distinguish the difference from academic writing and news writing, something I truly learned when working in my first newsroom.
RH: Talk about some of the big mistakes you have made running your company.
JG: For starters, when we first launched WNY News Now we were so video-focused, we did not provide written reports with our stories. I feel that providing both written and video content is key to a balanced platform, my only wish is we started sooner. On the business side, when we first launched WNY News Now our company had too much overhead, subscriptions, utilities, and rent. From a business standpoint my message to anyone, whether you are a newsroom and a coffee shop, keep your overhead low and only expand operations when needed. Sure, we grew into our space, however, I feel I could have made better investments from day one.
RH: How is news dissemination changing?
JG: Our news team carries a digital-first mindset, which I believe is one of the keys to success in today’s world. Unfortunately, very few people are tuning to traditional radio and TV these days, so to adapt to the times, content will not only have to be streamed online but make online their focus. In many cases, those traditional platforms can, and are being simulcasted, which I feel is key. In fact, one day we may only see programs online, we are already seeing it with web-exclusive content.
RH: Describe your partnership with Erie News Now….How will you benefit?
JG: I am super excited for what’s to come with our new partnership. Erie News Now will help WNY News Now take our product to the next level, sure there is a value for what we do now, however airing our reports on traditional television only expands the eyeballs. Additionally, Erie News Now is connecting us with additional resources that will improve our news product. For example, we are now able to access their Washington D.C. bureau, providing additional coverage of our local representatives and what they are doing in the nation’s capital. In the end, hyper-local journalism is just that, local.
RH: Is local TV news valuable anymore? What can TV learn from digital newsrooms?
JG: I believe it is still valuable, however, the landscape is changing. In the future, newsrooms will need to focus more on digital, and some, like our partners at Erie News Now, see the value of digital and push to expand it every day. With that said, traditional advertising will also have to adapt or find new ways to promote their message. I feel as more entities realize the power of digital, the emerging industry will only grow stronger.
RH: What mistakes did college journalism make in teaching young reporters?
JG: A lot of time college journalism classes, especially at schools not tailored for the industry, teach a more public relations approach to the craft, rather than the skills students really need, like question-and-answer prep, how to properly focus on the story, and sort through the propaganda often provided. Furthermore, many schools do not clearly explain the difference between a reporter’s opinion and facts for stories. I often find myself restructuring our school interns, to better fit our operations.
RH: What is the vision for WNY News Now?
JG: I feel the limit of this company is our own imagination. I am blessed that I found success over the past five years, and I can’t imagine what the next five will entail. I do plan to continue expansion. So far, we primarily have covered the Jamestown, NY area and Chautauqua County. I plan to expand coverage east to serve more underserved communities with local news in New York State. Additionally, the partnership with Erie News Now will allow us to expand south to PA, covering the City of Warren and surrounding communities.
Viewers Turn To Fox News For 9/11 Memorial Ceremonies
Ceremonies commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the memorial sites of the World Trade Center area in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania were covered by multiple networks.
On the cable front, Fox News Channel led all in coverage, well above their cable news competition. As the following is noted, FNC was ahead in each hour according to key figures tabulated by Nielsen Media Research:
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.258 million total viewers; 179,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.369 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.314 million total viewers; 48,000 adults 25-54
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.891 million total viewers; 339,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.479 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.524 million total viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.771 million total viewers; 306,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.616 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.640 million total viewers; 59,000 adults 25-54
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.770 million total viewers; 285,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.704 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.733 million total viewers; 77,000 adults 25-54
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
FNC: 1.411 million total viewers; 198,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC. 0.862 million total viewers; 78,000 adults 25-54
12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
FNC: 1.242 million total viewers; 230,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC. 0.813 million total viewers; 74,000 adults 25-54
History Channel aired 9/11 programming throughout the day, highlighted by the premiere of two new two-hour specials; “Four Flights” (1.166 million viewers; 370,000 adults 25-54) and “I Was There” (1.054 million viewers; 400,000 adults 25-54) — both were cable’s top non-sports telecasts of Saturday, Sep. 11, based on 25-54.
Within a four-week span, HBO aired Spike Lee’s eight-hour documentary “NYC Epicenters 9/11 —> 2021½“, with the conclusion on Saturday, Sep. 11. Its original airings’ figures were, as follows:
Part 1 — Sun. Aug. 22: 212,000 viewers; 90,000 adults 25-54
Part 2 — Sun. Aug. 29: 163,000 viewers; 73,000 adults 25-54
Part 3 — Sun. Sep. 5: 200,000 viewers; 77,000 adults 25-54
Part 4 — Sat. Sep. 11: 237,000 viewers; 120,000 adults 25-54
Note: The above data does not reflect the cumulative viewership of the episodes’ re-airings on the various HBO network and streaming platforms.
Over on the broadcast networks, NBC’s special telecast of “Saturday TODAY” (with Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Lester Holt) easily bested ABC’s “Good Morning America Saturday” in both total viewers — 1.71 million vs. 1.24 million — and in the key 25-54 demo, with NBC nearly doubling ABC: 438,000, to 243,000. (Data for CBS and the Fox broadcast network were unavailable.)
Here are the cable news averages for September 6-12, 2021.
Total Day (September 6-12 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.378 million viewers; 226,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.650 million viewers; 78,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.532 million viewers; 1177,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.200 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.131 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.129 million viewers; 18,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.127 million viewers; 28,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.076 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (September 6-11 @ 8-11 p.m.; September 12 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.268 million viewers; 359,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.101 million viewers; 138,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.715 million viewers; 169,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.223 million viewers; 66,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.188 million viewers; 61,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.156 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.152 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.044 million viewers; 7,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 3.688 million viewers
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.139 million viewers
3. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.085 million viewers
4. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.073 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.013 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.003 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.971 million viewers
8. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.962 million viewers
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.958 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 9/10/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.938 million viewers
17. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.323 million viewers
139. The Lead With Jake Tapper (CNN, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.991 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 0.535 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.528 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.523 million adults 25-54
4. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.503 million adults 25-54
5. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.483 million adults 25-54
6. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.480 million adults 25-54
7. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.474 million adults 25-54
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.471 million adults 25-54
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.468 million adults 25-54
10. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.442 million adults 25-54
27. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.316 million adults 25-54
63. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.249 million adults 25-54
167. Forensic Files “Chief Evidence” (HLN, Wed. 9/8/2021 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.149 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
How News Talkers Can Beat Sports Talkers at Their Own Game
Despite the fact that News and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe.
Despite the fact that News Talk and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes, they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe. First off, both formats are under the “talk” umbrella, and there are many News Talk listeners who consume Sports Talk, and there is some, albeit less, of that vice versa.
However, while News Talk can dabble into the sports realm ahead of a big game or a cultural issue, usually, the Sports Talk station/hosts will still be considered the “experts” on the topic.
But what if there’s a situation where that isn’t the case? What if the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game?
That’s possible and doable.
This can happen when the issue of sports and business overlap. For example, in Kansas City, a hot topic this week has been the possibility of the Kansas City Royals looking to move to a downtown ballpark and leaving Kauffman Stadium when the lease runs out in 2031 (or perhaps earlier). While it’s likely ten years away, anyone who has followed these types of situations knows the planning needs to begin years in advance.
That always brings up the next batch of questions: Where will they go? Would they threaten to leave the city? And most importantly, who is paying for it?
While the Sports Talkers will undoubtedly have some insider information into what the team is thinking, News Talkers might have even more valuable insight to share with the audience that the Sports Talkers can’t access.
Why? Because we are more likely to be very familiar and have strong relationships with the politicians, bureaucrats, local commissioners, and business power players, who play just as much of a role, if not a bigger one, in a monumental move and decision like this.
Within 12 hours of the Kansas City Royals owner holding a press conference discussing this potential move, I was confident, after talking with politicians/business people in the know, I could bring my audience inside information in a way no sports talker could.
Beyond just what is convenient for a team’s ownership group, there are plays for land, parking lots, zoning requirements, permits, and yes, dirty politics, that all get involved in these types of moves.
That’s our lane in the News Talk business. We deal with these issues on a daily basis, and we know who exactly to contact, depending on the situation.
So whether it’s the Oakland Raiders leaving for Las Vegas, the St. Louis Rams bailing for Los Angeles, or the Seattle SuperSonics heading to Oklahoma City, these are just a handful of examples of where the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game in a story that has mass appeal to both audiences.
And the beauty of all this is you don’t even need to be a “sports expert” to own this story if and when it comes to your town (or rumors start to swirl). You need to simply work the connections you already have, which are highly unlikely to be had by your sports counterparts, do some digging and cross-referencing, and you can own a story like this in your city in no time. You might even be able to draw new cume to your show and station by being the authoritative figure on the topic.
And then, when it all inevitably comes back around to breaking down pitching changes and hit-and-runs, leave that to the jocks. That’s boring stuff anyway.
It’s Not a Vaccine Mandate, It’s a Test Mandate
“Chuck Todd from Meet The Press, the New York Times, CNN, numerous other media outlets and even the White House spokesman have called Biden’s policy a vaccine mandate. It’s not. So, why do they keep reporting it as such?”
I feel I must disclose my feelings on Covid-19 before my column this week so everyone knows my bias.
If you want to take the horse dewormer medicine, Ivermectin, for Covid-19, I DON’T CARE.
If you want to wear a mask in a crowd indoors or out, I DON’T CARE
If you don’t want to get a Covid-19 vaccine, again, I DON’T CARE.
In terms of full disclosure, I have been vaccinated. As far as I know, I haven’t had Covid-19, and only my dog has had some form of Ivermectin.
With that out of the way, can we talk about how President Biden’s mandate is being discussed and reported on? This is not a liberal or conservative issue, and it’s not a CNN vs FOX News issue. Most everyone has an opinion on it, yet most don’t care to find out what was actually proposed. Even the White House is misleading folks with its own policy.
This is not a vaccine mandate, it’s a test mandate.
President Biden’s policy has made two changes. All federal workers must receive a vaccine. You don’t have to work for the federal government, but if you do, you must be vaccinated. Again, not a mandate. No one is forcing you to work for the federal government. That’s your choice.
Delta Airlines implemented a policy charging employees $200 if they choose not to be vaccinated. As a result, thousands have received the Covid-19 vaccine to avoid the penalty. That is their choice.
Schools, public and private universities, hospitals, and companies big and small have made similar rules. If you want to work or attend, you must get a vaccine. Not a vaccine mandate, big difference.
Companies make all sorts of rules, some smart, some dumb. I know a radio station that will not let their on-air hosts talk to the media (dumb). My company policy says, I can’t eat food in the studio (smart). You can agree or disagree with a policy, and if you choose not to follow it, that is your choice. Nobody from the government is going to come to your home, hold you down, and jab a needle in your arm. Yet I’ve heard that said a few hundred times in the last few weeks.
Part two of President Biden’s policy says that if you are a company with over 100 employees, your employees will be required to have a vaccine or get tested weekly to see if they are Covid-19 positive. Again, this is not a vaccine mandate. It’s just a test, once a week. A test mandate, if you will.
Chuck Todd from Meet The Press, the New York Times, CNN, numerous other media outlets and even the White House spokesman have called Biden’s policy a vaccine mandate. It’s not. So, why do they keep reporting it as such?
I talk to neighbors, callers, and friends, and they’re all arguing over something that isn’t happening. Some have gotten really angry and stood defiant. They will not, under any circumstances, be forced to get a vaccine.
“How about a test?”
These are crazy times. We talk past each other, we debate our own set of facts, we get to choose the news we like, and disregard and disqualify the news we don’t. I’m afraid we have crossed some type of rubicon. Everyone is arguing and debating a policy but nobody knows the actual policy.
If you think taking a test to find out if you have a life threatening virus that could harm you, a family member, or a coworker is government overreach, I DON’T CARE. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted by the screaming. But if you are going to argue about it, you should do yourself a favor and know what the policy is before you decide you are for it or against it.