Sometimes, large stories need space and time. Issues may be too large to simply cover in less than 2 minutes of air time filled with 10-15-second sound bites.
Although we see less of them these days, the magazine shows on television go further in depth on a story. The viewers are able to get more perspectives, hearing from more sources than time would allow in a normal weekday broadcast. Long-form storytelling takes a different approach, and producers, writers, reporters and photographers get the opportunity to do it, and can show off their expertise in the craft.
On Monday night, following "Dancing with the Stars," the staff at WISN-TV Ch. 12 will present a number of these long-form stories on a primetime special "On Assignment" at 9 p.m.
"This unique magazine-style format is an opportunity for us to share important and interesting stories in a longer, more in-depth way," said Jan Wade, president and general -manager of WISN.
"On Assignment allows our veteran journalists to showcase distinctive stories that we are hopeful our viewers will enjoy."
In one of the reports, anchor Craig McKee tackles heroin use and the road to recovery for addicts. McKee dives into just how prevalent the drug is and why recovery options are just as problematic.
"We talked to one young man, who, for the past eight and a half months has been clean from heroin," said Special Projects Producer Rita Aleman, who serves as the executive producer for "On Assignment."
"I think it is really meaningful … it will have an impact."
Aleman and I talked about the news special, and how this story could show a light on the leading cause of death for 17- to 24-year-olds in 10 area counties. Because of the stigma involved, people don’t usually talk about the access to care and the high costs and potency of the drugs used for treatment.
For the station that touts "Important, Local Coverage," Aleman said it is reports like the one on heroin that hit on the "Important" part of the tagline.
In another story on the show hosted by McKee and Kathy Mykleby, anchor and reporter Joyce Garbaciak will present the changing face of America’s dairy land with look at local farms.
"We take viewers to the farm," Aleman said. "Farmers of different political persuasions have turned to Mexican labor, where they face the potential of hiring an illegal immigrant."
Garbaciak talks with the people working on the farms, and shows the current struggles they face. Veteran newscaster Mike Gousha reports on how a Wisconsin senator and a local community leader cross party lines to get things done in Milwaukee.
"People are used to seeing Gousha on the set of ‘Upfront’ drilling down on issues," Aleman said of the host of the local Sunday morning political show that runs on WISN and other stations throughout Wisconsin. "Here, he’s in the field reporting in neighborhoods … (covering) political opposites coming together for what really works for economic development."
The show will also feature Colleen Henry, who looks into the battle between the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. And Jason Newton shares the story of two veterans who are walking across the country for an inspiring cause.
"The show will cover a broad range of local subjects, from a drug epidemic in our community to the future of one of our state’s most important industries," said station news director Chris Gegg.
"By spending more time on these significant topics, we can go beyond the headlines and provide a closer look at relevant issues. This show will be engaging, invite discussion and demonstrate the qualities that set WISN 12 News apart."
SUNDAY NIGHT: As the Time Warner Cable and Journal Broadcast Group talks over retransmission continues, subscribers won’t be able to see the Sunday night NFL game on NBC with the block out of WTMJ-TV Ch. 4.
"Time Warner Cable is reminding customers affected by Journal Broadcasting’s blackout that Sunday night NFL telecasts are available at no additional charge online," said spokesman Mike Hogan.
"Time Warner Cable customers can see Sunday night’s games, including this weekend’s San Francisco-Seattle match up beginning at 7:30 p.m. CDT, at NBCSports.com/LiveExtra."
The game is also available over the air with an antenna, or through another cable or satellite provider.
Sunday’s Packers and Washington game will air on WITI-TV Fox 6.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.