DMA 35 (CINCINNATI) In Depth, Play Now, Pay Later

The Scripps Cincinnati ABC affiliate's website is giving users a taste of what they will be missing if they don't subscribe -- a six-month investigative report on the murder of a local cop Scripps plans to put such reports and other premium content on the site behind a paywall early this year.

A multimedia story chronicling the last day of a murdered police officer’s life posted on Sunday exemplifies the kind of digital content that the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in Cincinnati will soon offer only by subscription.

The story, Exit 34, is the product of six months of work by reporter Jessica Noll. It recounts the 24 hours leading up to the May 2013 death of Bardstown, Ky., policeman Jason Ellis through a 10,000-word story as well as video, audio, photo galleries and maps.

The story is available to all users. However, similar “premium” in-depth content will be available by subscription only after the TV station erects a paywall on the site early this year, a Scripps spokeswoman says.

Exit 34 is a departure from traditional TV station website content in a number of ways. In addition to its length, it is written as a present-tense narrative, which Noll says she chose to do so that it reads more like a novel than a news story.

It also includes a range of digital features — photos of Ellis coaching his son’s Little League game just hours before his death, a video interview with his wife and a recording of the drunk woman who reported to police “officer down,” among them.

All are used to bring a multi-dimensional look at the final hours of Ellis’s life, which ended when he was ambushed on a Bluegrass Parkway exit ramp after signing out from work at 2 a.m.


The murder remains unsolved.

“Journalistically, this is very different than most of the things we work on,” Noll says.

Exploring all aspects of Ellis’s last 24 hours — from his conversation with a gas station clerk to the position of the moon that night — reaped details not obtainable when producing day-to-day content, she says.

Under Scripps’ plan, reporters will be responsible for creating more in-depth content like Exit 34, which will be offered exclusively to subscribers. WPCO TV reporters will handle more of the day-to-day content.

Noll will be live on Facebook from 6 to 7:30 p.m. ET today to discuss Exit 34. Her Facebook ID is JessicaNollWCPO.

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