Behind the Scenes Features Reinventing Local TV News Research

Northeastern University’s Reinventing Local TV News Project kicks off a year of experimentation

Northeastern University’s Reinventing Local TV News Project (RLTVN), supported by the Stanton Foundation, is embarking on an exciting new phase in 2024 with the hiring of four fellows who are working in new roles for television stations around the country. Building on its foundational work since 2017, the project continues its journey to revolutionize local TV news, with a specific focus on developing Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming content for digital platforms. Aiming to attract a broader and younger audience, the project has entered its third phase of research, partnering with leading news stations in New York, Chicago and Boston.

“A year of innovation is underway,” announced project leader Mike Beaudet, investigative journalist for WCVB-Boston and professor of the practice in video innovation at Northeastern’s School of Journalism. “The team is excited to welcome four dynamic fellows to Northeastern and the project’s partner stations, who are each already making strides redefining digital storytelling in news.” 

Three pioneering OTT streaming content producers, Maggie Cole, Angela Chen and Leanna Scachetti, as well as Visual Content Producer/Animator Gabby Aidam, each bring fresh perspectives to traditional news storytelling. Watch this video to get to know them:

RLTVN OTT: Meet the Fellows! from NU School of Journalism on Vimeo.

Back on campus, the Reinventing TV research group’s Underreported Story Generation Team made significant strides last semester by using a combination of research approaches to uncover unique stories in Chicago, Boston and New York. Three of these stories were recently published on digital platforms at the respective partner stations. New York’s fellow examined housing challenges for Gen Z, Chicago’s fellow humanized the ongoing migrant crisis impacting the country and Boston’s fellow looked at how a city program to encourage minority and women owned businesses is performing.

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This semester, the team looks forward to further support from the school of journalism’s “Untold Stories and News Deserts” course, whose students will be learning about equitable journalism firsthand by continuing to uncover stories that deserve more attention, and workshopping them with the OTT Producers on the ground.

Cole, OTT streaming content producer for CBS New York, reflects on the project’s direction: “Historically, young people have been the backbone of social change, and we need their perspective in order to be ahead of a story instead of trying to catch up to it.” Echoing this sentiment, Chen from WLS-Chicago emphasizes the importance of evolving media technology: “Innovation in video storytelling is really important because the media and the tech is constantly changing.” In Boston, Scachetti of WCVB is determined to push creative boundaries. “I want to create content that doesn’t necessarily look like a traditional television news story. We want to kind of break the boundaries a little bit,” she asserts.

The initiative, benefiting from over $1 million in Stanton Foundation funding, demonstrates the significant role that hiring digital-specific producers and visual content creators––specifically, from a younger demographic––in shaping the future of local news. The team is dedicated to exploring innovative ways to report news and deliver it on-demand, aligning with the evolving consumption habits of modern audiences.

Aidam, the animator for the project, shares her excitement: “That’s one of the things that I look forward to: being able to connect directly to the youth and to the community.”

For more information on the Reinventing Local TV News Project, its objectives and the team, please visit the project website.

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Anna Campbell

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