WWOR cancels 10 p.m. newscast for “Chasing New Jersey”

Chasing NJ

Newscast replaced by new New Jersey-based news magazine show

Been a while since yours truly has written about local media outside of Chicago, but this is worth noting:

Fox Television Stations announced Wednesday (on the day before the 4th of July holiday) the cancellation of WWOR-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast, effective immediately. The newscast has been a fixture on the New York/New Jersey My Network TV affiliate since the RKO General days. The future of WWOR’s news operation had been in doubt since Fox purchased the station in 2001 with its acquisition of Chris-Craft Television. WWOR’s newscast (which is mainly targeted toward the New Jersey residents of the market) went head-to-head with sister station’s WNYW’s 10 p.m. newscast. In recent years, WWOR’s news show often beat Tribune Broadcasting-owned WPIX’s newscast in the same slot.

The 10 p.m. newscast was WWOR’s lone news show on its schedule. Though newscast cancellations are rare these days, this is the second one in a major-market in many weeks. WLS-TV in Chicago announced recently it was cancelling its 11 a.m. midday newscast to make room for Windy City Live, which is moving from 9 a.m. on September 9.

Beginning July 8, WWOR plans to air a new nightly magazine show titled Chasing New Jersey. The move to cancel WWOR’s newscast comes at a time several New Jersey politicians have called for an investigation on whether or not News Corporation misrepresented itself regarding WWOR’s news operations and if the station is serving northern New Jersey in the public interest. WWOR’s license is still pending renewal after six years. The station has been based in and been licensed from Secaucus, N.J. since 1986.

The timing of WWOR’s newscasts’ demise comes a month after one of the station’s critics and leading advocates against News Corporation’s ownership (Sen. Frank Lautenberg) died.

Chasing New Jersey is being produced by WTXF in Philadelphia, another Fox-owned station in the region. WTXF plans to air Chasing at 4 a.m. weekdays beginning July 9.

Copied straight from the press release, here’s WWOR’s vice-president and station manger, Diane Doctor:

“New Jersey’s politics, infrastructure, businesses and celebrities continue to make national headlines. Though challenges persist, it is no doubt an exciting time to live, work, raise a family in the Garden state. We have created a unique and valuable platform to showcase just that.”

And here’s more from the press release:

Each night, the “Ringleader” of the program will take viewers on a fast-paced, unpredictable ride across the state of New Jersey as “Chasers” hit the streets to cover the stories that are placing New Jersey firmly in the national headlines. Originating from the state capital of Trenton, “Chasing” will cover a broad range of topics and issues, including interviews with local politicians, law enforcement officials and citizens on a variety of issues affecting New Jersey communities.

Not sure how this will go with New Jersey activists, but turning a newscast into a tabloid-like magazine show seems like a lame attempt to cover topics and issues important to the people of New Jersey. And if we’re talking about celebrities, are the cast of Jersey Shore and Jon Bon Jovi going to trump more important issues?  Reading these two paragraphs from Fox sums up what’s wrong with journalism today, and you can also look no further than O&O sister station WFLD’s shitty news operation for proof.