Integrated newsroom at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a long way from my radio news days…

Tod Maffin of the CBC, who is an internationally known keynote speaker on how social media is changing the mainstream media – and other companies too – has posted a fascinating video tour of the new CBC integrated newsroom in Vancouver, BC.

The world Tod and his guest, Johnny Michel, regional news director, CBC Vancouver, describe and tour in this extensive video is a far cry from my own experiences in the nearly integrated radio and print newsroom of the Asbury Park (NJ) Press  and its “Radio Voice,” WJLK-AM & FM, in the 1970s.

The WJLK radio newsroom was in a small cubbyhole adjacent to the newspaper’s main newsroom on the second floor of Press Plaza in Asbury Park. The newspaper has since moved the newsroom to a more modern facility on Route 66 that’s technically in Neptune Township, not Asbury Park. The privately held newspaper sold out to Gannett when the owning families discovered just how much those estate taxes were going to be, and the radio station was sold years ago.

Print reporters were instructed to provide “carbons” of their stories to radio news for rewrite into broadcast form.

Later, when the paper became one of the first in New Jersey to computerize in the mid-1970s, the Extel dot-matrix printers connected to the newsroom computer system were loaded with rolls of yellow paper/carbon sandwiches, and reporters continued to dutifully provide the carbon copies to radio news.

But unlike the close collaboration among online, TV and radio news gatherers at the CBC that Johnny and Tod describe in the video above, the print editors and radio news apparently didn’t keep in close touch at the Press/WJLK. 

In the 1960s, the radio station had been a sort of sleepy programming backwater populated with locally produced programs like “Alarm Clock Club” and “The Bird Watchers’ Club.” They even substituted a daily recap of the obituaries from that day’s Press instead of a 2pm newscast.

The newspaper obits carried a slugline promoting the reading of the death notices on the radio.

In the mid-1970s, new programming management at the radio station replaced the local programs with automated top-40 music from the legendary Drake-Chenault music syndicator. The obits were no longer read on the radio at 2pm.

But apparently, no one ever told the print newsroom. For years after the obit-cast was cancelled, we still had to plow through piles of carbons of obits dutifully provided by the print newsroom.

No one ever wanted to tell them to stop providing them, for fear that they would withhold real news stories too!

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