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KTVL & Mail Tribune: Our connection

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The news organization where Ann Curry began her journalism career now shares the same roof as Oregon’s first newspaper to win a Pulitzer, but the companies behind the joint partnership have ambitions as grand as their organizations’ pedigrees.

At noon Monday, KTVL News 10 will showcase an all-new set from inside the Mail Tribune building to viewers across Southern Oregon and Northern California in what will be the station’s first high-definition news broadcast.

KTVL staff have been preparing for the past three weeks to migrate their studio — and their desks — to the Mail Tribune office at 111 N. Fir Street. Officially the news station is a tenant in the Mail Tribune’s building, but the two organizations’ similar goals will lead to further cooperation.

After years of making do with hand-me-downs, every piece of equipment at the Medford studio is new and state-of-the-art, according to KTVL News Director Chad Hypes.

Hypes pointed to one of numerous NEC flat-screen displays which will appear behind staff on the set. The monitors are specially designed and calibrated to work with the studio's new cameras.

“At our old station, we just went to Best Buy,” Hypes said.

At KTVL’s new weather station in the studio, Hypes points out a 40-inch Samsung monitor that the meteorologist uses for the green screen weather report. At the old station, they used a 13-inch Cathode Ray Tube set to see where they were pointing.

The all-LED lit studio will look dramatically better because the footage is in high definition.

“Everything just looks better in HD,” Hypes said.

The studio was built in a previously unused part of the Mail Tribune building that once had been used for chemically developing film as part of the newspaper press plate-making process. Digital technology had rendered the process obsolete a decade ago.

In addition to KTVL’s main studio, there’s also a second studio and control room in the building that can be used by the RoseBud production team, Mail Tribune staff or KTVL.

Hypes said the variety of shots is a boon to producers.

“A lot of what it comes down to is shots — what can I show?” Hypes said.

Hypes said he has been waiting for the new set since he joined KTVL in the summer of 2015.

“Ultimately it’s worth the wait,” Hypes said.

According to Steven Saslow, the sole owner of both Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings, behind KTVL’s delayed upgrade were negotiations for a business and content-sharing partnership that he had proposed to KTVL’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, before he ever bought the newspapers in 2017.

Sinclair bought KTVL in 2011.

Saslow said he saw in Sinclair an opportunity to partner with the company that was then the largest broadcast television station group in the nation — producing about 75,000 hours of news a week — and create a way to help local newspapers and TV stations that are each overcoming struggles from declining readers and viewers.

“We’re doing it in a way where this could be replicated,” Saslow said.

Saslow said that the stories and opinions from his company are not influenced by his business partner.

“Sinclair has no interest in RoseBud and no influence over its content,” Saslow said.

Saslow turned to former colleagues — Peabody award winner Bill Carey and three-time Emmy winner Kathryn Janicek — to create a new approach to news and information that they believe will better fit the way people seek news in the 21st century.

Carey has guided the RoseBud producers and editors to create a new combination of traditional and unorthodox videos that are highly produced, and draw from the power of the internet.

Over the past year, the RoseBud team, which joined the newsroom of Mail Tribune reporters, have produced regular, ongoing series that also appear on KTVL, such as JP the Dog Guy and Oregon Outdoors with Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman.

Freeman, who’s covered the outdoors for the Mail Tribune since 1989, has worked over the past year and a half to blend the different strengths of text and video storytelling into a stronger whole, but doing so required him to rethink the way he’d approached his work for decades.

In addition to the traditional newspaper article that’s run in the Oregon Outdoors section Fridays since 2008, Freeman now works with a RoseBud producer for an accompanying video to tell the story visually, plus a series of three segments that air throughout the week on KTVL’s evening broadcasts, on the station’s website and on the Mail Tribune’s website.

“It’s like writing a serial every week, but it’s a lot of fun,” Freeman said.

Freeman chooses all the topics, and is solely responsible for the segments’ content. The TV station airs the final cut.

“We do the whole thing ourselves,” Freeman said.

He also enjoys the recognition. Freeman thought his years of experience as a reporter made him well known in the community, but since the TV series started airing in June of 2018, he said his notoriety is “times ten.”

Other programming is evolving and will add to features already in production, such as commentaries from Emmy-winning national commentator Larry Mendte. Carey recruited Mendte in part because of working together in the past, but also to add balance to a lineup that he believed leaned decidedly to the left.

Saslow said the idea isn’t to give the paper any sort of slant, but to add viewpoints.

“We’re striving to have a lot of variety of opinions,” Saslow said.

The Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings will continue its laser focus on Jackson County, according to the Justin Umberson, editor of both papers.

“We’ve had almost two years of getting accustomed to how we can benefit from having more journalists in the building, but also keep our news operations independent from each other,” Umberson said. “The vision is to share resources where it makes sense, and to expand the coverage we offer our readers and News 10’s viewers.”

KTVL evening anchor Trish Glose said she loves the energy in downtown Medford that she hopes will lead to new ways to interact with the community.

“I went to lunch and grabbed a coffee — it took, like, 20 minutes,” Glose said. “Being downtown is super fun.”

She also sees more potential with Mail Tribune reporters in the same building as their set.

“This partnership is going to do so much more for our viewers,” Glose said. “You’re just going to be able to give viewers a lot more than they’re getting now.”

Glose, however, called it “bittersweet” to say farewell to the place where she forged some of her closest friendships and spent her entire broadcast career thus far.

“It’s been my building for 17 years,” Glose said. “It’s been my home.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

KTVL News 10 anchor Trish Glose rehearses at the station's all-new studio inside the Mail Tribune.{ } The first broadcast from the new studio will be noon Monday, Oct. 28.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
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