A STATION FOR NEW YORKERS
Steve Paulus: I think that with NY1 the goal was always, we’re gonna cover the most underrepresented television market in the country, and that’s New York City.
Lewis Dodley: In the early days, NY1 was a work in progress, but we were determined to deliver. Once, our time and temperature bug went down and Paul [Sagan] had me read the weather live every ten minutes, with no graphics, and give the current time from my watch. Since then, the station that was searching for respect and credibility has grown into somewhat of a local news standard.
Budd Mishkin: I was dealing with athletes in those days, and I spent maybe a thousand nights in the Knicks’ locker room with the camera on one shoulder—the old heavy cameras, and the microphone—and there’s nobody else by themselves. And you always remember and respect those guys who looked at you and thought, 'This guy is working.' John Starks forever will be good with me, because he appreciated the fact that there was work going on here, physical work. And then there were others who gave us a hard time. Derrick Coleman of the Nets, that was hard. So you had to roll with the punches. You knew how hard you were working. You knew what you were trying to prove.
You knew how hard you were working. You knew what you were trying to prove.
Steve Paulus: When NY1 launched, the only local news you had was print and radio, but on television it’s only the broadcasters. And the broadcasters are in a pickle because the viewership is too large. The frustration of being a broadcaster doing news in New York is that you never know who your audience is: the 40 percent of the people who live in New Jersey or the 20 percent that live in Long Island, or the 30 percent that live in Manhattan, in New York City, or the 10 percent that live in Westchester County. You have to sort of take the common denominator that appeals to everybody, which is why you end up seeing a story like O.J. Simpson, or Joey Buttafuoco—the homogenized content that has the largest appeal to the largest geographic area. So we were able to say, 'You know what? Let’s talk about the mayor. We’re gonna cover mass transit—we got a reporter dedicated to that. We got millions of kids in the New York City school system. You know, the least we can do is dedicate one reporter to covering education.’
Kristen Shaughnessy: When we first started, we were all one-man bands, meaning we did our own stuff. Now, it’s very common, but at the time, it was unheard of. And a lot of the union shops didn’t like us because of that. They were mean out in the field to us... Now they’re fantastic. It took NY1 maybe five years to establish itself or maybe even September eleventh. At first, they were hoping we were going to go away. But now everybody does one-man bands. Which they said would never work in New York and it does.
Action Bronson: I’m a fuckin’ New Yorker. Who doesn’t know about NY1? That’s the channel that goes on in the morning. If you need to know the temperature right away, before cell phones and all this shit, you go to NY1. Weather on the ones, dude—01, 11, 21, 31, 41, 51. We’re not playing games.
Steve Paulus: When you're in a typical broadcast environment, you come in every day and it's sort of like a cafeteria. You come in and you get your tray, you get your story, and off you go. It could be a crime story, an education story, it could be a feature story. Our reporters, we expect them to come in every day with a story [in their beat] and pitch it. They are a part of determining what we do on a daily basis, and that's the true nature of the beat system. We established a beat system early on, so you had reporters who developed areas of specialization.
Dean Meminger: We really start from the bottom line that most of the reporters here are native New Yorkers. So we’re like beat reporters born into the beat. I was born in Harlem and raised in Harlem and the Bronx and so many other people here, the beats that they cover, they were raised in those boroughs. So when you do a story, it's like, 'I know a lot about what goes on already.' Now, there may be an official story that I have to get from an official, but personally, myself or my family or my friends, we've dealt with this agency before so we really know what's going on. Does that give you a bias? If you were speaking to a lawyer in a story, or they were delivering a report, you wouldn't tell them to throw out their law degree to tell the story, so my bosses, when I was covering the Bronx, never told me to throw out the Bronx side of me. That was a very big part of me understanding the borough, the fact that I went to school there and that I lived there. And with the police, the criminal justice part of it as well, management here realized, Hey, this guy is doing a lot of stories about criminal justice and about the police and he has sources. So they said, 'Hey Dean, do you think you wanna be the criminal justice reporter?' After a while, I agreed to it.
Most of the reporters here are native New Yorkers. So we’re like beat reporters born into the beat.
Steve Paulus: When I was at CBS, we were hard pressed to cover two stories a month on Staten Island. And we've got five, six people out there every day covering news. You know, there's more news out there that you can imagine. And the stories that we do are relevant to the people who live on Staten Island. I don't care if it is not relevant to the people of Newark, because people in Newark are not watching.
ALL NEWS, ALL THE TIME
Roma Torre: We're run by a group of people who've been in the news business all their lives. They're real journalists as opposed to folk whose bottom line is the profit as opposed to storytelling. We're just committed to giving you a pure news experience as opposed to all that other frou-frou that the other channels seem to feel is necessary.
Steve Paulus: We're not covering the fluff. I was at a dinner once, and it was the day that Anna Nicole Smith had died, and there was a toast made at dinner and the guy stood up and said, 'I want to make a toast to the one channel that we know did not lead with Anna Nicole Smith.' We didn't lead with it because it wasn't a story that was relevant to the daily life of New Yorkers.
Matt Besterman: Because we have a 24-hour format, we're able to go a little more in-depth than other stations that have to work within a 30-minute newscast—and we're able to cover a lot of the smaller, neighborhood-level stories the other guys might pass on. And of course, unlike many network affiliates, we don't have to worry about, say, who won Dancing With the Stars.
We're just committed to giving you a pure news experience as opposed to all that other frou-frou that the other channels seem to feel is necessary.
Dean Meminger: At NY1, they allow reporters to stay on stories that are important and may not be the flashiest story. You have such a big issue now with stop-and-frisk, with the Police Department saying it’s a very important tool to keep crime down but many community residents saying it only targets Blacks and Latinos and you’re just stopping us because we are Black and Latino. And that’s a tough story to do because there’s so many sides to that story. Not a lot of flash to it, but a lot of times a lot of substance and a lot of understanding.