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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  • To: Anonymous (and JGrad) .. I go on record with my name, Mike Downes and my face in Google Hangouts .. can you not state your name and where you are from.. Everyone else does these days..

  • Chris

    Big props to Sarah (who is a great person and professional for this. She is truly a leader in the I dusty for doing this. KOMU is lucky to be able to afford to try something like this. It runs independent financially of the University however a chunk of its news staffs pays to work there. This simply didn’t work. The show has obviously been cancelled. Live with it. Google+ is a non player. TV viewers Do pay the bills as their eyes set ad rates and that’s what it’s all about. Lots of projects don’t work out and that’s OK. I’m glad they’ll keep some form of interactivity though.

  • Anonymous

    Mike Downes,
    I don’t think JGrad meant literally. But it’s very true that the more TV viewers you have the more you can charge for ads. That’s what they meant by “viewers pay the bills”. And if viewers are watching over cable or satellite, you could argue they do pay some of the bills because we have what are called retransmission fees. The cable co. or satellite co. have to pay the stations to air their signal.That $ is paid out of the money cable and satellite customers pay.

  • To: JGrad..

    I would be delighted for you to explain to us how ‘TV viewers pay the bills’ .. I thought organisations paid for advertising that then pays some bills. Are you saying TV Viewers pay? I only know of one model, that of the TV licence in the UK. And in this case, I presume University of Missouri pays quite a few bills too as it own KOMU ..

  • Michael Tucker

    Michael, I wonder if you may have considered that the work that Sarah does brings attention to the programs at the University.
    From my understanding, there is a great team in many faculties that now gain a worldwide exposure via the Google Plus platform.

    This in turn is able to promote to prospects to attend Mizzou as opposed to other universities.

    Your profile says that you were born in Korea. Do your parents still watch Korean newscasts via satellite?

    What are your interests in dismissing KOMU’s foray into creating something different? Does this mean that you want to create a similar program, but under your banner?
    Google is currently testing out new features that will enable a newscast to be shown publicly directly in YouTube.

    I also suggest that you run another story, perhaps about how we use these hangouts to break news topics because of our different experiences and locations.

  • Anonymous

    KOMU is just trying to paint a pretty picture of what happened – which is fine. But glad someone is willing to go deeper.

  • JGrad

    Ugh– get over yourselves, Mizzou peeps! Typical Mizzou self-indulgence. It didn’t work. There will be less of a social media aspect. Deal. And by the way, Google followers don’t pay the bills– TV viewers do.

  • Michael,

    Let me give my own views from England (as a KOMU CoHost and a Google Plus user), fit that with some facts and enlighten you on the wider angle that this post of yours sorely misses.

    I met Sarah Hill in a KOMU Hangout in Sept 2011, at that time when the U News aired, Sarah Hill had 3,654 Google Plus followers. Today, that number stands at 902,875. So, Sarah has gained on average of 4,242 followers a day since show launch. These are global users who now represent KOMU with a fascinating issue to have: How to use Google Plus with Broadcast News. KOMU was local, now it could be global.

    Thankfully, KOMU is linked to the Reynolds School of Journalism and that links with the missing word from your article – Innovation.

    Sarah Hill stands alone as the market leader in the use of Google Hangouts. This leads us to the other TV News Stations in the us and those that aspire to work with Hangouts like Sarah and KOMU, see this map: where Stations from not only the US, but France, Russia, Finalnd, the UK and Argentina have asked for Sarah’s help. My post has the names.. check with them for the wider angle. Try Los Angeles, Reno, Sacramento and Seattle.

    Google too have taken an interest in how TV News is broadcast, gathered and presented. This has lead to On Air Hangouts taking the centre stage in the Google Plus Stream.

    As a follow up article, you should look at how News Stations in the US are using a global platform like Google Plus, attracting a global audience, but have a need to fulfill a local audience. This is a theme across all News Stations I have spoken to.

    We can now broadcast in three areas: analogue to a TV set, a web stream and on the social media platform itself. So, taking the tagline at the top of this website.. creative newscast inspiration.. what would you do?

    My advice.. follow up this post with a piece that researches the use of TV News hangouts in all of the globe, see where people are innovating (like Sarah Hill) and see where the gaps lie. This should make a much needed look at the future of News..

    Lastly, and I find this curious, is why this post of yours is out of sync with the last two that NewsCastStudio published.. what’s your motive? The two previous posts were unnamed.. but this one is not.. Michael P hill.. are you at Google Plus? Meet us all in a Hangout and we can show you how it all works .. Mike

  • Mr Hill: Please correct this asap. The interactive show is not being canceled. U_News is moving to the noon time slot with the new name of “KOMU 8 News @ Noon”. We have a better hour and a name that better fits with our brand. The interactivity remains but we are working in our traditional news set and traditional news music. As far as gaining viewership, we’ve amassed 900, 000 followers on the new Google Plus platform in 8 months. But currently, there is no way to measure people watching us on Google Plus. 900, 000 is more than our entire viewing area in mid-Missouri. When you have that many people, of course many will be “foreign” as you call them. We are eager for our noon show to start on April 23rd. Thanks for your interest in our endeavor. Mr. Hill….who is your source?