The Sentinel and abc27 have reached a content-sharing deal that both parties said should greatly benefit readers and viewers of the newspaper, TV station and digital products.
The deal, which includes an expanded local weather section in The Sentinel and coverage of Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon and York counties courtesy of abc27, was announced just weeks after The Patriot-News said it would publish three days a week and focus mostly on its digital content.
“There will be a real vacuum for people who like to read the newspaper seven days a week,” abc27 President and General Manager Joe Lewin said. “I think the regular subscribers to The Patriot-News feel abandoned, and I know that The Sentinel management sees this as a real opportunity.”
Sentinel Editor George Spohr, who approached abc27 with the idea of a partnership and has previous experience with such arrangements, said The Patriot-News’s decision was not the impetus for this deal. As executive editor of The Sentinel’s sister newspaper in Coos Bay, Ore., Spohr pursued a similar strategy with a neighboring TV station.
Still, “that arrangement was only going to be a fraction as comprehensive as this one,” Spohr said. “I don’t know of any other partnership like this between competing outlets where you’re sharing planning documents and news tips.”
The Sentinel and abc27 will feature each others’ content across platforms. For instance, abc27 will be the newspaper’s sole weather provider in both print and online while The Sentinel will feature abc27’s meteorologists on a daily basis, Sentinel Publisher Mark Heintzelman said.
“They are a first-class organization with a tremendous brand,” Heintzelman said. “We welcome this partnership with open arms.”
Lewin added that local news coverage will benefit greatly from the partnership.
“For example, The Sentinel carried a story from our Kendra Nichols who went to Honduras with local doctors. We see that as a real benefit to the viewers and readers because people got to read about it in the morning and see the report on our evening newscast,” Lewin said of Tuesday’s Sentinel.
Combined, The Sentinel and abc27 have more than a dozen journalists exclusively dedicated to covering Cumberland County — from the Shippensburg area to the West Shore — far more than any other competing outlets.
“With the weather, we have four meteorologists who know the area intimately. Also, we do 5-1/2 hours daily of local news which is a lot more than any other station in the region,” Lewin said.
Last month, abc27 also entered a partnership with Cumulus Media Harrisburg to provide viewers and listeners with abc27’s local news and weather programming through television, radio and mobile platforms.
“Our primary focus at The Sentinel has not been the Capital Region or the West Shore, and until now, we didn’t carry the resources necessary to do the consumers in those markets justice,” Heintzelman said.
Monday’s paper marks the launch of The Sentinel’s Capital Region page which focuses on Harrisburg and West Shore news, with content coming primarily from abc27.
“There are consumers in our markets not sure how they will get their news and information on a daily basis” once The Patriot-News cuts four days out of its print cycle, Heintzelman said. “Together, with abc27, we will be providing our communities with relevant news and information every day of the week,” he said.
Lewin said Carlisle and the West Shore are his news station’s “sweet spot.”
“The Sentinel has reporters out there covering things we might miss. On the other hand, we cover Dauphin County, York, Franklin County and Lebanon County, so we’ll have things The Sentinel won’t (ordinarily have) and to put those together is pretty potent,” Lewin said. “There isn’t anything negative about this agreement that I can see. It’s hard to quantify how much of a benefit there is because there is no downside,” he said.
“It’s an open-ended agreement and one that I’d like to see continue indefinitely,” he said. “The use of each others’ stories and content and the credit we get and The Sentinel gets each time is really as good a promotion as you can get.”