Clarification: Missouri station ‘transitioning’ interactive newscast

Note: This post has been updated after we received some comments on the use of the word “canceled” in the headline. 

KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia/Jefferson City, Mo., is “transitioning” its much ballyhooed interactive newscast “U_News.”

The show’s last day in its current format is Friday, April 20.

The show will switch to a noon newscast, “KOMU 8 News at Noon,” with a focus on more breaking news and traditional storytelling methods, with some interactivity, says anchor Sarah Hill.

The station has been heavily plugging the decision as simple change of time slot to better fit its brand.

The show, which was promoted heavily as an interactive newscast, was originally aired for an hour at 4 p.m., but moved to 11 a.m. and lost 30 minutes earlier this year after it failed to gather much on-air viewership.

Evidentially the new time slot didn’t help matters.

One of the main challenge U_News faced was the ability to get local viewers to interact.

Its use of Google+ to add “cyber anchors” to the show often gathered foreign viewers or users who were affiliated with the station or its parent organization, the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, which owns the station. While overseas participants did add an interesting perspective, the relevancy wasn’t always clear.

Facebook and Twitter also were never really able to generate a critical mass of interaction, forcing the newscast to use content from the station’s own reporters and others affiliated with the station or school.

The station will shuffle its late morning and afternoon schedule and air a noon newscast instead. While the newscast will still have an interactive component, it the station is backing away from calling it a truly interactive newscast.

“KOMU plans to scale back on how we present interactivity in a way our audience is more willing to accept. U_News’ major changes are the show’s time (noon), name and format changes to boost its professionalism. The dominance of social media will be toned down,” wrote the station’s interactive director, Jen Reeves in a blog post.

The station invested significant resources in the new show, including adding a standup pod and large touchscreen in the main studio and removing a wall in the newsroom to create a “social media desk.”

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