“Northland Cable News, we hardly knew ye”

"It is generally assumed that when a competitor goes under, the survivor does a little jig on the newly turned earth. In market capitalism – essentially Darwinism expressed as a spreadsheet – one’s passing means a windfall for someone else’s bottom line.Be that as it may, where news and information are concerned, competition is always a good thing. That’s why we’re saddened to hear that Northland Cable Television no longer feels it can afford to subsidize its news operation."

  • Saturday, January 15, 2000 3:00pm
  • News

“It is generally assumed that when a competitor goes under, the survivor does a little jig on the newly turned earth. In market capitalism – essentially Darwinism expressed as a spreadsheet – one’s passing means a windfall for someone else’s bottom line.Be that as it may, where news and information are concerned, competition is always a good thing. That’s why we’re saddened to hear that Northland Cable Television no longer feels it can afford to subsidize its news operation. After a six-year run, the programming will be disbanded at month’s end.Don’t get us wrong: From day one, Northland Cable News and its succession of camera-toting reporters – eager, cheery and well-scrubbed all – were the enemy. Any new competition for advertising dollars always causes a certain amount of hand-wringing in the front office, and we newsies are unabashed about wanting islanders to look first and foremost to the Review for the lowdown on local goings-on.And despite its best efforts, Northland’s news programming never achieved more than cursory exploration of most issues – they never met a press release they didn’t like, and short broadcasts in a medium defined by the sound-bite are only going to cut so deep. Production values were likewise, er, challenging, with the company’s equipment sometimes painting the island and its inhabitants in exciting new hues of chartreuse, purple and gold.But we all started somewhere, and there was always something endearing that brought us back to NCN time and again.And Northland Cable News was unquestionably popular. Many of us, for the first time, got to see the faces of familiar friends and family members on the little screen. It was an unparalleled thrill for many, especially island kids, whose parents made a ritual of taping the athletic and academic exploits of their daughters and sons and sending them to far-flung relatives. There was something visceral and attention-grabbing about the moving images that a more contemplative medium like the Review sometimes found hard to match.And, truth be told, they kept us on our toes and held us to a higher standard. The phrase “I saw this on NCN…did you know about it?” was heard more than once around this newsroom. We can’t be everywhere all the time, and a few times – yes, we admit it – they scooped us.Several Northland alumni we all came to know and value as friends – Greg Copeland, Greg Todd and Shannon Carr among them – have gone on to bigger and better television jobs based on tapes made during their Bainbridge tenures. The program was an incubator for young talent as well as a news medium. And its passing leaves a void that will go unfilled in this community.That’s especially apparent when you look at the treatment Bainbridge gets from Seattle news agencies, both broadcast and print. Although a mere seven miles away, none deign to glance in this direction unless there’s a murder or some other tragedy to be milked for some cheap sentiment or exploitation. Of the real, vital, day-to-day island – they don’t have a clue. Northland Cable News, at least, took the time to become part of this community and tell its many stories with a local’s insight and understanding.For that, Krista, Blair and Jon, we will miss you greatly.”

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