The ratings are improving at WPIX, but the internal strife is still present. Part of the problem, no one is officially steering the ship in the newsroom.
Tribune hadn’t named a successor to Mark Effron, who was bounced in October. But that is about to change. Amy Waldman (left), the station’s managing editor, who has primarily handled the day-to-day operations since Effron’s departure, will be the Channel 11 news director, Tuned In has learned.
VP/GM Rich Graziano addressed staffers in two separate meetings this week to announce the hire of new Senior VP of News, Bart Feder, a New York veteran, replacing Katherine Green.
Graziano was asked in the first meeting about the elephant in the room, the lack of a news director. He told the group that Vickie Burns is back in the building, but not in a managerial role. Graziano said Burns is a consultant, who will guide and mentor Waldman, who just needs some “tweaking.”
Burns ran newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC.
While not specifically addressing a promotion for Waldman, Graziano told employees that he’s stopped taking phone calls from people applying for the news director position.
While the ratings remain subpar at WPIX, Tuned In has learned that consultant Vickie Burns has left the building.
She had been a major sounding board for news director Mark Effron since surfacing during tbe summer. Because of her strong programming resume, which included stints running newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC, and the poor ratings, Burns was always considered a wild card to attain a larger role at Channel 11.
While it’s not clear why Burns is out, one thing appears certain: the new GM Rich Graziano is feeling pressure to right the ship.
“Graziano inherited Effron,” a source says. “He has the option to go a different route at
The station is badly trailing WNYW in the morning and not doing much better at 10 p.m. WPIX has made slight inroads in the crowded 5 p.m. field.
Burns’ exit could, once again, place the spotlight on Effron. With his tenure now at one year, many speculate that he won’t survive the next ratings book in May.
“The problem is there’s a severe lack of confidence in Effron and his managers,” the source says “Everyday, the station is hindered by a weak leadership team. We’re always a step behind.”
Perhaps to help close that gap, last week, the station announced veteran investigative reporter Arnold Diaz joined WPIX.
The mystery of Vickie Burns at WPIX is about to be revealed. Tuned In has learned exclusively that the former WNBC news director will officially be put on payroll at Channel 11. All indications are she’ll be named a consultant alongside news director Mark Effron. As we reported, it’s a role that the veteran news executive has held since earlier this summer.
There is also a possibility that Burns could assume a newly created station manager position.
As late as yesterday, there was additional buzz that Burns would take over for Steve Charlier on the corporate level at Tribune. That rumor was squelched by this morning. Therefore, Burns, known for her demanding personality, will in based in New York.
For several weeks, as we’ve reported, Burns has become a presence in the PIX newsroom. We’re told she’s had a hand in the station’s anchor audition process.
Burns’ last TV job was as KNBC news director in 2012.
“Whatever role Burns will play it’s obvious her job is to monitor PIX11. In the past four months,
Effron and company have made some mistakes to further alienate viewers,” the insider says, referring, in part, to a format change and failed anchor pairings. “November will be critical. Not only for managers but anchors. Burns has a rolodex of New York City anchors and reporters to look towards.”
It’s only taken two weeks for oft-criticized Chasing New Jersey to clip Channel 11 at 10 p.m. Despite the lack of a local news presence in the Garden State, the TMZ-esque politically focused 30-minute show has caught on with enough viewers, even though it also has caught the ire of the FCC.
On Friday, the key demographic of adults 25 to 54 gave PIX a deeper bruise as WWOR tied the Tribune O&O at 10 p.m. The two broadcasts each registered a .4. Prior to the evening newscast being dismantled in Secaucus, Fox-owned WWOR registered a .1, while PIX notched a .5.
The dismal ratings apparently prompted Tribune to make a move. Multiple sources tell Tuned In that one-time WNBC news director Vickie Burns is now part of PIX. While her role with WPIX is not clear, we’ve learned that she’s been seen in the Channel 11 newsroom during anchor auditions. The station and Tribune would not confirm Burns has joined the station or the company.
“It’s evident by the ratings, the anchors on the desk aren’t getting it done,” an insider says. “It’s also evident that [Mark] Effron and [Eric] Meyrowitz may no longer have the final say in the newsroom.”