News of Channel Nine’s imminent arrival in Wagga’s TV news market has been met with cautious optimism from some of the region’s former presenters.
Late last year, the network announced it would broadcast hour-long regional bulletins in 15 markets, competing directly with Prime and WIN.
However, they voiced concerns about all three bulletins being read from out of the region. Vanessa O’Hanlon, Nine’s new anchor, will read the news from Sydney, while Prime is read from Canberra and WIN from Wollongong.
Former Prime presenter Tony Pritchard said the beauty of regional news was that it covered the issues that were important to local communities.
“We used to cover school events and sports events, kids would go home and tell their parents and grandparents they’d be on the telly,” Mr Pritchard said.
“Reaching out to the community was really important, but back then we were totally local, all we carried was local, but that content isn’t as strong as it used to be.
“I’d like to see (what Channel Nine does) before I pass judgement though.”
In the western Riverina, viewers have long complained about a lack of television news coverage, something former WIN journalist Jacalyn Cremasco hoped would change.
“It’s a good thing if there’s additional local news coming, providing an opportunity for local journalists to work in the industry,” Ms Cremasco said.
“I don’t think things will go back to the way they were (with a dedicated bulletin) but with video journalists there should be opportunities to jump in the car and do it themselves.”
Local news had an important role to play in society, according to Charles Sturt University’s Travis Holland, who said it helped define a community’s identity and values.
“We use different types of media to reflect back shared characteristics and values,” Mr Holland said. “We could gain more of that, but there’s a risk we will have fewer voices telling our stories back to us... if it’s only the same people on different channels there’ll be no net gain.”
Nine’s Wagga bulletin will air from February 27.
It’s a good thing if there’s additional local news coming.Jacalyn Cremasco