Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thanks to all who've supported the Akron-Canton News

I had hoped today wouldn't come, but after several days of rumors the bad news came right to our newsroom today -- the Akron-Canton News is ending May 30.

Tough economic times have limited the advertising support for the newscasts for quite a while, and WKYC General Manager Brooke Spectorsky informed out staff today that the station could no longer continue the broadcasts. Brooke was genuinely upset that it came to this. He was here to launch this project, and he knows of its value in the Akron-Canton area.

I'm just numb tonight. I received the news along with the rest of our staff a few hours ago, and I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words. My heart just breaks for my co-workers and for the Akron community, which will revert to having only Cleveland broadcasts for traditional evening news.

One of my first thoughts was how lousy it will be on election night when there's no evening news source for results and analysis. Maybe the Internet has already made that obsolete anyway. I'm thinking about the smaller stories -- kids getting art awards, major community events at lock 3, highlights from games at Canal Park -- that won't get the coverage that we gave them.

After WAKC stopped doing Akron news in 1996, many Akron and Canton residents complained that we'd lost some of our identity. Regaining an evening broadcast became one of the community's listed goals and was also the feature of an entire Beacon Magazine.

I was so glad that we were able to help return the broadcast in 2001 via a relationship between NBC and the PAX network. Still, it took the vision of our GM and the support of community leaders to give this crazy idea a chance.

Then a few years ago, we were on the ropes again when PAX hit the skids, but thankfully Time Warner Cable stepped up to give us a shot. My thanks to Steve Fry and everyone at TWC for all of their support as well.

Still, seven years later, we're about to lose our newscast again. It just doesn't seem possible.

Tonight I read a short copy story announcing the end of the newscast. There's nothing more awkward than reading your newscast's obituary on the air.

For what it's worth, I've never had anyone tell me they didn't like our newscast. I've had folks say they don't watch because it's on at a bad time or because they don't get cable and a host of other reasons. Still, I've never had a viewer tell me that they could watch but wouldn't because they didn't like it.

I'm fortunate that I'll be able to continue reporting on news in the Akron-Canton area for WKYC in a tradition bureau role again, and I know our managers and producers will work hard to include as much A-C news as they can in Channel 3's broadcasts. Still, it won't be the same. I'm glad to have kept my job and to get paid to do something I love, but it hurts to know that we could provide more to the viewers.

Over the next six weeks, I'll do my best to keep delivering a quality newscast .. but tonight, I'm just numb. After seven years of racing to beat the clock each night, I just feel like it can't be over .. but I know it is.

15 comments:

Eric Poston said...

I feal really bad for you Eric. I am also going to really miss the newscast. It was a great way to get news from the Akron/Canton area.

Good luck and you will be missed.

- Eric in Green

Anonymous said...

Eric,
I am devastated. What does this mean for you and Lisa and the boys? Will you be looking elsewhere? You and Lisa are such assets to our community, I hate the idea that you may take your talent and passion elsewhere (not to mention the personal issues involved here). This is terrible news.

Love you lots,
CJ

Ben said...

Sorry to hear this news. Had to be hard to read.

I want everyone to know what a stand up guy Eric is. He offered to meet with me to give me pointers on my new ABJ blog, despite never meeting me before. He came to me - not the other way around.

Eric is a talented guy and will land on his feet.

Village Green said...

Having you at the anchor desk here in Akron has given us all a greater sense of what it means to be an Akronite. I understand your feeling numb as this news makes me feel absolutely empty. And what does it say for our city that there is not enough business to support advertising dollars?

Anonymous said...

Guess that means Eric can spend more time at the Magic City Drive-In theater.....

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I read about the Akron/ Canton News in the Beacon and I'm sorry to hear it's been cancelled. I do though question when you talk about Iraq and being their, see I was their in the begining with the Ohio National Guard and I seem to remeber you being in Kuwait. If you only took convoys into Iraq then say that, dont claim to be there, because I was there.

Kyle said...

Eric,

The Akron Canton newscast is the place I go for the quality local stories you mentioned in your post. As a political junkie, your election night coverage has been a favorite of mine. It is important for our community to hear stories featuring local elected officials and candidates leading up to an election. Your news cast was the only show covering these issues. The internet is a useful tool to learn about what is happening on the other side of the world or across the country, but there aren't many places I can turn to learn about what is going on in my community. I will miss your broadcast.

Pho said...

Eric:

I am sorry to hear this, both for the city and for you. As you say, you've been able to offer Akron some identity of our own, independent from Cleveland.

I'm glad you will stay around as a bureau reporter. I assume that means Have I Got News and Newsnight Akron will be around as well.

Eric Mansfield said...

thanks to all for the nice comments .. and well wishes. Much appreciated ..


anon, your Iraq comments are out of line, especially when you don't identify yourself ...

Kuwait or Iraq, both are considered part of "operation Iraqi Freedom" and I spent time in both .. as did you I'm sure .. as you go where the Army sends you ... sorry I was fortunate enough not to get hit with the mortar rounds that came down on us at LSA Anaconda .. or that I don't have video to show you of my team driving through Basra ... as well as my time at Camp Virginia as the war began .. guess you'll just have to take my word for it .. or see my DD214

but to say "if you 'only' took convoys in .." is a slap to all service members driving the roads over there. do you know how dangerous our convoys have been to US troops?

how'd you like it if someone said to you, "well you were 'only' there with the Guard, not the real Army"???

Should the troops from the 3ID not get the same accolades as other Iraq veterans because many came home after 'only' 7 months in Iraq while others served a year?

I think you should choose your words more carefully .. and let's not get into a whining match about who served a more dangerous role in the war .. there's always someone out there who saw more action than you or I did and so on .. but we all carried ammo and MOPP suits and we all performed amongst those harsh conditions away from our families.. so can't we just say that we're blessed to have come home in one piece?

by the way, thanks for your service ..

feel free to email me direct if you want to talk further ... Eric

JFRIESS said...

To the 23 News Gang!

It's with a heavy heart that I write to you after learning the Akron-Canton Newscast was coming to an end next month after a nearly 7 year run.

It's with great pride that I say I was the first person hired from "outside the walls" of WKYC to come in and help launch the Akron-Canton newscast back in June of 2001.

Our smallish in numbers but large hearted newsroom poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting that 30 minute newscast off the ground. I'm still in awe of their dedication to produce a quality newscast every weeknight...and I'm just proud to say I played a small role in making that happen.

Today, I'm the Assistant News Director at a television affiliate in Chattanooga, TN. I've become a quick study about the economics of making television news. Still, having dedicated 4 years of my life to 23 News..news of its demise is difficult to swallow.

Akron-Canton viewers can be proud of the fine work your dedicated news team delivered every weeknight for the past 7 years...It was my pleasure and privlege to have worked with not only a fine group of news professionals...but good people too. And for that, I'm lucky!

So..one last time Eric..."Back to you!"

John Friess
Assistant News Director
WRCB-TV
Chattanooga, TN
23 News Alum 2001-05

Anonymous said...

I just do not understand how the local businesses in the metro area of Akron/Canton can't support one half hour of local news a night, when the businesses in places like Zanesville and Parkersburg can support 15 hours of television a day, 7 days a week. Something doesn't add up here.

Am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Youngstown have two or three TV stations?
I don't understand how Akron can not even keep one TV station on the air!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I am going to so miss having my dinner with you and the team. How are we going to know what is happening in Akron without you! I always knew I could find out what was happening and get it straight when I turned on WKYC. Isn't there anything we can do.
I am going to miss your face
and miss getting the straight scoop.

I am sorry for us.

I am sorry for all of you too.

A grieving Akroninte

Chris Soulsby said...

Hey Eric,
I am sorry to hear that the local news will be gone as I enjoy seeing someone with whom I went to school be on the air, it adds that personal touch to the newscast. Hope all is well and good luck.

Patrick said...

Akron has become a minor player in the news to the "Big Boys"....the money people. I suggest that to keep up to date, AM 1590 radio, like we did in the 1950's. They also have an up to date web page.