KLAS Hits the Jackpot with Avid iNEWS

One of the biggest frustrations for TV news producers can be having the vision for what they want to see on the small screen but not having all the tools to create it. Just ask Natalie Pitcher, producer of the 6 p.m. newscast at CBS affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.

For years, Pitcher had been using a newsroom computer system that wasn't always capable of doing what she needed it to do and didn't offer the functions she wanted most. "It was becoming difficult to do the kind of news text editing we wanted to do unless we went to Avid iNEWS," says Pitcher. "The old editor was not going to take us as far as we could go."

As part of its overall growth plan, KLAS recently made the transition from the old system, NewStar, to Avid iNEWS, and what a difference that has made, explains Pitcher. "Switching to Avid iNEWS was a dramatic change. As far as I can tell, everyone is happy with it. I know I am." Within a couple of months, KLAS will be adding the desktop editing component of the Avid iNEWS system. At that point, the changeover will be complete.

KLAS, the oldest station in Las Vegas, has an excellent reputation in the Valley for breaking news, and it is the leader in investigative stories, according to Pitcher, adding that the station is growing so fast that its market size is changing all the time. In the five years since she joined the station, Pitcher has seen it jump at least four market segments. KLAS is considered number one at noon and a strong second at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.. Pitcher produces the 6 p.m. hour-long newscast, usually working with five or six reporters. The show comprises weather, sports, national news, and as much local news as possible.

News is about change, says Pitcher, and Avid iNEWS reflects that. In the past, a producer would dread having to make even the slightest change. Now, with Avid iNEWS, it is easy and intuitive. "The system is very flexible, and that is important," says Pitcher, who found out just how essential the flexibility was a few weeks ago when a major story broke in the city. There was a huge fire. Every few minutes, Pitcher was being fed new and updated information. "I was able to update the information into the prompters for the anchors. I wrote it, typed it in, and it was in. Just like that. There were no icons, no buttons to push, and no having to wait for the file to update."

From the archive to the rundown filler to the system manager, everything is now much easier to use and a lot faster, says Pitcher. "It is incredibly fast. That is what I love about it," she says. Her other favorite feature is the archive system. A day doesn't go by without a co-worker asking Pitcher how to find something from a past broadcast. "I simply tell them, 'When you know the date, it's really, really easy to find it in Avid iNEWS.' Everything is still in a rundown format. So, you look at what you would normally look at in a rundown format, and there it is."

An important contributor to Pitcher's success with the Avid iNEWS system was the weeklong training she and three co-workers received at the Avid Training and Development Center in Madison, Wisconsin. "In addition to being a lot of fun, it was also really individualized, very station by station," says Pitcher. "They wanted to know what we did in our daily lives, what we do every day, and how we do it. They said, 'We will make the system work for you,' and they did just that."

Erick Aegerter, the director of the 6 p.m. newscast, also attended the training, which he said he found "extremely helpful." Aegerter went so far as to call one of the trainers "a godsend."

For Pitcher, Avid iNEWS' ability to auto-save has been her godsend. "Instead of having to remember to file, you get out of a script, and it automatically saves it for you. There is none of the fear of 'Did I save that?' or 'Did I get that?' You just know that it did it for you."

In the past, says Pitcher, it would often turn out that it hadn't been filed, that it wasn't quite done, and it had been erased before someone had a chance to file it. "With Avid iNEWS, I don't have to worry anymore."


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