The Bottom Line At KHON-TV

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - March 15, 2006
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It is painful to watch what is going on at KHON-TV. Although I worked for its “sister” station, KGMB, for many years, I have nothing but sympathy for the men and women still hanging in there.

We were competitors, yes. But underlying that has always been the regard one feels for professionals who share a dedication to reporting the news. Some of the folks who chose to stand on principle and resign are friends. Many who stayed are people I have worked with and respect.

What the viewing public sees is not even close to what actually happens behind the scenes. Putting on a newscast is a time-consuming, messy and sometimes chaotic process. It takes talented people and it takes resources to do it right. The station is losing both.

The good people at KHON are not going to suddenly stop caring about the content of the news. They will do their darn-dest to continue putting out quality newscasts every day and every night.

They may succeed. They may not.

Whatever happens, you are not likely to see big, dramatic changes - good or bad. What’s more likely is that there will be a slight fraying around the edges at first. Maybe the number of technical glitches will begin to increase. The new owners have said they will not slice into the on-air news staff. That’s a relief. But good as they are, they will find it more and more difficult to perform up to snuff if they don’t have the proper support - technical, editorial, promotional and sales. A newscast is only as good as the team, and 80 percent of the team works on the other side of the camera.

The turmoil at Channel 2 opens up opportunities for the three other stations. All are jockeying for that coveted No. 1 spot in the ratings - because rating points equal dollars.

But no matter what happens, there will be a caveat. After all, it’s one thing to win because your opponent stumbled and fell. That’s victory - fair and square. But it’s quite another matter to win because someone took a sledgehammer and bashed in the knees of the competition. Who really wants to win that way?

Of course, money and manpower are always issues no matter what station you work for. Sadly, it’s become a given in this business. Most news staffs here in Hawaii and around the country have been forced to become bottom line thinkers. What’s happening at KHON is tragic, but what makes it shocking is the blinding, ruthless speed of it. That, and the naked admission that what really counts has nothing to do with serving the public.

It really is all about money.

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