Four of the five largest television stations in Chicago have signed on to participate in a risky joint news-gathering venture first announced last fall by NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. The two charter members of the venture reached out to other local stations to participate over the past several months, and Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 have agreed to join the venture as well. Only ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 will continue to operate as an independent news gathering operation.
Sources say the new venture will involve two camera crews from each of the four stations involved. They will be assigned to cover news each day by a managing editor in charge of all the pooled camera crews. Raw footage shot by the crews will be available for use by any of the participating stations. Managing editors will be rotated in and out of that position every 12 months, according to one source. The new venture is based on a model first tried out in Philadelphia last year.
Though she was approached to join in the new venture, WLS General Manager Emily Barr said her station opted out of the unusual arrangement because she felt it was important for WLS to remain an independent voice with the flexibility to cover the news as it see fits.