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Respectable showing for a first newscast

On an evening when there were lots of news options - an expired tornado warning and severe weather in Pasco County and the start that night of massive construction on I-275's "malfunction junction" with I-4 in Tampa - they started the night with a lengthy profile of outgoing Tampa police Chief Bennie Holder, similar to reports some stations offered last week.

By ERIC DEGGANS, Times Television Critic
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 26, 2003

Still, Monday's inaugural newscast of WTTA-Ch. 38's WB 38 News at Ten moved relatively smoothly, integrating national news and weather reports from station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group's Hunt Valley, Md., headquarters with local news and sports reports.

The broadcast was the culmination of long months of work building a news department at the Tampa WB affiliate's Town N' Country headquarters, featuring former WTSP-Ch. 10 anchor David Klugh as the station's weeknight anchor and former Fox Sports Network reporter Mike Nabors as weekday sportscaster (former Bay News 9 anchor Susan Casper, who delivered the report on Holder, also serves as weekend anchor).

The hourlong broadcast featured large segments of national news and weather, offering national news anchor Morris Jones reporting from a set similar in appearance to Klugh's - with a brief welcome from Jones "to everyone watching us in Tampa, Florida" as the only indication they might not be sitting in the same newsroom.

Meteorologist Megan Glaros was careful to use lots of local names in her reports - she appeared three times during the newscast - though she didn't mention the tornado warning from earlier that day, and made only general reference to the heavy rains that pelted the area Monday.

The national news seemed a little heavy on Iraq news, featuring a preview of a Washington Times story on a new military vehicle that seemed unnecessary (the recent bombing in India, by contrast, received a much shorter mention).

Combined with commentator Mark Hyman's reputation for conservativism in his "The Point" editorials - last night's centered on allegations a publicly-funded, San Francisco-based safe sex group encourages risky sexual behavior with your tax dollars - the effect felt a little pro-military for my taste.

Still, Monday's debut was a respectable showing that could have benefitted from more local coverage and less national puffery - an interesting first step for a fledgling news department that's got a steep learning curve ahead of it.

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