News bureaus in the nation’s capital are shrinking. Tribune shut down its operations in February, moving to a sharing arrangement with CNN. Media General closed its Washington bureau in March. According to a PEJ Report, 32 newspapers have D.C. bureaus, fewer than half the number of the mid-1980s. Even the Big Three broadcasters have scaled back, from 110 journalists to 51.
Reacting to rising newsgathering costs, local media outlets have sought new ways to work together. In July, WRC, NBC Universal’s owned-and-operated station; WTTG, Fox Television’s O&O; and WUSA, Gannett’s CBS affiliate, which pool their aerial news footage, launched a local news service to share video newsgathering resources. While WJLA, Allbritton Communications’ ABC affil, isn’t part of the local news service, the station shares news resources with Allbritton’s other media outlets: local cable news outlet NewsChannel 8 and The Politico, a three-year-old print and online news venture.
WRC continues to hold its position as the local news ratings leader—it even enjoyed a ratings bump for its late news leading out of Jay Leno in his new 10 p.m. time slot. A solid No. 2 in news, WTTG extended its morning news in September by moving its 11 a.m. newscast to 9 a.m., giving it a 5–10 a.m. block. In the Washington, D.C. market profile (10-19), WTTG’s 10 p.m. newscast is No. 1 in its time period, and has the second highest 25-54 audience among all late newscasts.
Since Arbitron commercialized the portable people meter in the market in June, WTOP-FM, Bonneville International’s News station, has been on top of the ratings. The station won 11 Edward R. Murrow Awards, the most of any news radio or TV outlet.
With the switch to PPM came a few format changes. In April, CBS Radio killed its Adult
Album Alternative format on WTGB-FM “The Globe” for an Adult Contemporary format called FRESH FM, taking on No. 4-ranked WASH-FM, Clear Channel’s Adult Contemporary station. In July, CBS launched “The Fan” on WJFK-FM, replacing the roster of male-oriented Talk for Sports. The station is neck and neck with the other Sports station in town, WTEM-AM, owned by Red Zebra Broadcasting, the group formed by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. In August, Citadel dumped its year-old True Oldies format on WJZW-FM for Classic Hits.
Though The Washington Times’ circulation is much smaller than The Washington Post’s, it’s aggressively trying to extend its brand. The paper plans to launch a national edition this fall, published weekdays, to compete with other national papers such as USA Today. In May, the paper launched Washington Times Radio, a two-minute, top-of-the-hour newscast mornings on CBS Radio’s WHFS-AM. In June, the paper partnered with radio syndicator TRN Entertainment to launch a new, syndicated morning-drive radio show broadcast from Red Zebra’s WTNT-AM.
After undergoing a reorganization to streamline reporting, The Post plans to complete the merger of its print and online operations by early 2010. Meanwhile, it has severed a news service partnership with The Los Angeles Times and will launch a global news service with Bloomberg in January.
Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor are the major out-of-home providers, with CC offering bulletins, posters, transit shelters and taxis, and CBS selling bus transit advertising and the Metro subway system.
TV DMA Rank: 9
Population 2-plus: 5,888,007
TV Households: 2,335,040
TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 7/9/3/6
Wired Cable Households: 1,498,470
Radio Metro Rank: 9
Population 12-plus: 4,238,100
Radio Stations (rated): 49
Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 14/70