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New York’s WNBC Kicking Out Veterans for Content Makeover

This from Variety earlier in the week:

The stem-to-stern transformation of WNBC ,,, aims to turn it from just another local affil to a “content center” reaching websites, taxis, grocery stores — even hospital delivery rooms.

The $15 million project entails not just a physical renovation and tech upgrade but a massive exodus of veteran (read: pricey) staffers, with just a handful staying onboard as of Jan. 1. Battered by the economy, NBC Universal parent GE, not to mention station owners such as News Corp., Tribune and Sinclair, are watching closely to see if Gotham will provide a survival guide for local news.

Union leaders and media watchdogs, meanwhile, characterize the change as a lawless, dehumanizing assault on journalistic tradition. And those clinging to jobs describe a bizarre scene with vets on one side of the newsroom and relative tyros on the other, with nary a word being exchanged.

“They don’t call Cheez-Whiz ‘cheese’ on the package; they call it a ‘cheese product’,” said one survivor. “What’s going to be produced here isn’t really news. It’s a news product. And you have to wonder what will happen when a major story breaks and you have someone from a small market who was cheap enough to hire.”

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