Former CBS newsman Mark Albert is heading the station group’s investigative unit in Washington. He says that much of what he will do is dig for good stories within the big stories and highlight the local angles using a variety of platforms.
For some 20 years, Hearst Television’s Washington bureau has covered the length and breadth of the Nation’s Capital.
Now, it’s adding some depth.
The station group is starting up a national investigative unit in the bureau with the hiring of former CBS newsman Mark Albert.
“Our goal is to make national news, while making sure we are relating back to our local markets,” Albert says.
On June 19, Albert will join a bureau that now comprises 16 staffers, including four correspondents. “All of them have produced some investigative work, but I don’t think it has risen to the level we expect it will rise as we now have someone leading the charge,” says Barbara Maushard, SVP of news at Hearst. “This is really the establishment of our unit.”
Also joining the bureau on June 19 will be another reporter to assist in the investigative work and political coverage. He is Matt Prichard, who worked as a multimedia journalist and anchor at stations in Albany, Ga., and Colorado Springs.
Albert is coming from The Voyage Report, a travel and transportation startup that makes heavy use of video. Albert was editor in chief there.
Prior to helping to launch the site last year, Albert had long and accomplished career in general TV news that started at CNBC in Los Angeles and wound its way through WUSA Washington and KSTP Minneapolis and finally to CBS in 2014. Here he is with a 2014 report on the Russians massing on its border with The Ukraine.
At CBS in Washington, Albert covered national and international stories, reporting from the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court and eslewhere. Among his beats is the first interview with the Dakota Access Pipeline’s CEO in Dallas.
Albert says that much of what he will do at Hearst is dig for good stories within the big stories.
“When a story breaks nationally or there is a story that is getting increased visibility, obviously we have to cover the nuts and bolts — what’s important, what’s happening and why does it matter,” he says.
“But some stories … cry out for an investigative angle — more depth, more insight, Freedom of Information Act requests, public records, digging into what happened. Did something happen where people need to be held accountable?”
The product of the Albert’s investigation unit could be broadcast stories of any length, says Maushard. “I’m a big believer that the content should determine the format and the length.”
Albert thinks questions about broadcast story length are missing the scope of what he plans. “I really don’t think about it anymore as two, three, four or five minutes. We are looking for multiplatform investigative stories here.
“We are going to have a story in the newscast, but you may be able to go on and listen to one of our raw interviews as a podcast.
“Or, maybe you will be able to go for some interactive augmented reality on our websites. We can take you inside that building we are talking about or inside that flood plain.”
Interactive graphics filled with data are also an effective way to tell a story and make it relevant to viewers. While at KSTP, he says, he created a graphics that allowed viewers to check out vaccination rates at their local schools.
Hearst doesn’t produce podcasts now, but Albert says that he had enjoyed doing a weekly podcast for The Voyage Report and that podcasts are a part of his plan.
“When I pitch a story to Barb and Andrew [Vrees, Hearst VP of news], I’m not just saying what we can do for television. I want to be looking for what we can do on all platforms.”
The Washington team will work closely with Hearst news-producing stations, Maushard says. “We have an excellent group of investigative reporters at the local level, and this is going to be very much a collaborative effort.” Heast has stations in 26 markets.
Albert says that he has more than a dozen story ideas that he’s eager to start working on.
“I want to pitch them, make sure we are getting the right tone, the right brand for Hearst. I definitely want to tell these stories and I want a good broad platform to tell them on.
“Our competitors should be pretty scared.”