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Paula Madison: No More Car Chases

[ photo: Paula Madison ]

No More Car Chases

When Paula Madison '74 took over as president and general manager of KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, she made a major policy decision: no more car chases. KNBC would no longer routinely scramble helicopters to cover highway police pursuits, the junk-food staple of West Coast news. Instead, Madison's station would begin covering more community interest stories, from local political and environmental issues to cultural events and health alerts.

It wasn't Madison's first controversial idea. In her previous position as vice president and news director for WNBC, NBC's New York flagship station, she asked questions like, "Why don't we do a story that's more than a minute and 30 seconds? Why don't we, if the story warrants it, do 20 minutes? Why do you only cover politics when you're in fact interested in alternative treatments to cancer? I like looking at the world from another angle ”turning it upside down, inside out, asking why it has to be that way."

Under Madison's direction, WNBC became the number one television station in the highly competitive New York Market. "News Channel 4" closed out the November 1999 ratings as the market's news leader, finishing first in all local newscasts for the first time in 16 years. With ratings like those, you can pretty much do anything ”even cut the chase, instead of cutting to the chase, in LA.

More: http://www.aavc.vassar.edu/vq/fall2000/madison.html

VQ Fall 2000
WHAV Fall 2001
Photo credit: Will Faller