‘Oklahoman,’ KWTV Merge Web Sites

By: Carl Sullivan

The latest example of media convergence is happening in Oklahoma City, where two independent companies have merged their Web sites.

After working together on news projects since January, The Daily Oklahoman and CBS affiliate KWTV News 9 have merged their Web sites into a new site, NewsOK.com. The Oklahoma Publishing Co. and KWTV-owner Griffin Communications created a limited liability company to run the new joint Web site, which employs staffers from the old Oklahoman and KWTV Web sites.

Ownership of the new company is split 50-50 between the newspaper and TV station. NewsOK.com has about 18 employees, including part-time editors, said the site’s director, Kelly Dyer, who previously worked for the Oklahoman‘s Web site as general manager and managing editor.

Dyer said that merging the Web sites was the logical next step in the partnership between Oklahoma Publishing and Griffin. “They’re independently owned, and we’re independently owned,” she said. “We both have strong journalistic standards.”

Since January, the newspaper and KWTV have shared many resources. Newspaper photographers ride along in the TV station’s helicopter. KWTV’s meteorologist is featured on the newspaper’s weather page. The station’s 10 o’clock news advises viewers to pick up the next day’s Oklahoman for in-depth coverage of that night’s TV stories, and in return, the newspaper promotes upcoming KWTV investigations.

“You just keep pumping each other around the clock,” said Steve Foerster, Griffin’s vice president of corporate development. “The Web site will bring it all together.”

Naturally, the news on the old KWTV site had little text and was more video driven. The partnership brings the in-depth text reporting from the newspaper together with the TV station’s video coverage, Foerster said.

Beyond news, KWTV’s databases, including CrimeTracker and Diner’s Digest, are included on the new Web site. And many of the old newspaper site’s features, such as classifieds, can be found at NewsOK.com.

The Oklahoman‘s site before went by the name ConnectOK.com. Some of that site’s special sections, such as CarsOK and HomesOK, live on at the new site.

Dyer said there have been the expected glitches as the two sites came together, but that, overall, things have gone smoothly. “Everyone seems to cooperate well,” she said. “Who would have thought that a newspaper and TV station could be friends?”

Dyer attributes the spirit of cooperation to the efforts of Joyce Reed, vice president for news at News 9, and Sue Hale, executive editor of the Oklahoman. The two women attended a convergence seminar together before the project began. “They would troubleshoot things as they happened,” Dyer said. “They were determined to make this work.”

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