Finding a middle ground in American politics is an exercise in hunting the elusive. Finding it in the news business? Even harder.
However, delivering news that everyone will agree has all the facts and none of the bias is a challenge that WGN America and its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, will be taking up as of Tuesday.
WGN America’s national newscast “News Nation,” which debuts Tuesday, is designed to present the news without shading from either the right or left, according to WGN America Executive Vice President Sean Compton.
The show will run for three hours a night, from 8 p.m. Eastern Time until 11 p.m.
Compton told the Los Angeles Times that while anchors Joe Donlon, Marni Hughes and Rob Nelson do not have vast name recognition, neither do they own “preconceived impressions” that will slant the news.
“We just hired local journalists who have not been at opinionated networks because let’s face it, the big three news channels are all opinionated — two on the left (MSNBC and CNN), one on the right (Fox News). We want them to come from local stations which tend to report facts and let you come to your own opinion,” he said.
— NewsNation Now (@NewsNationNow) August 29, 2020
With rising political tides on the extremes, the task of appealing to everyone is a challenge.
“They are venturing into uncharted territory,” Andrew Heyward, a professor at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, told the Times.
“I always welcome new news programming, but I’m not sure being non-partisan is going to be a sufficient driver of audience with all the other options out there.”
“We’ve got to deliver,” Compton told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re not alienating any of our audience, that everyone feels they’re getting fair, accurate reporting of the news.”
The project had been scheduled for a July launch, but COVID-19 intervened.
“It slowed us down a little bit from a technical standpoint — we were worried whether we would get all our equipment in,” Compton said.
Nexstar President-CEO Perry Sook said news can be done well, without political spin.
“We have an opportunity, a mission, and the resources nationwide to bring Americans breaking news stories and live coverage delivered by reporters who know the local community and can provide unbiased coverage of events from coast to coast and deep in the heartland,” Sook told Variety.
“We will be presenting news in a way that is free of any particular point of view as we debut ‘News Nation’ on September 1 and we are confident that there are more Americans than ever who are seeking just that.”
“News Nation” also plans to tap Nexstar’s 110 TV newsrooms for coverage.
“We have boots on the ground everywhere,” Compton told the Tribune.
“This makes sense because we’re in Sioux Falls, and we’re in Los Angeles and Chicago. CNN doesn’t have people in Fort Wayne.”
Compton said viewers drowning in spin will be the show’s biggest audience.
“I think we’ll draw a lot of viewers from the other cable news networks,” Compton said.
“Because people think they go there to get news now, and they’re really getting political talk programming. We’re just trying to report the facts.”
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