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In the middle of what is one of the most consequential weeks for media in years, Michael Corn, the president of Nexstar’s NewsNation cable news channel, took a moment to gloat.
“We are, as you probably know, the fastest-growing news channel in America right now,” Corn told a crowd of a few dozen assembled in the channel’s new New York studio Tuesday afternoon. “We are also the fastest-hiring news channel in America right now. In fact, some of our competitors have been dramatically downsizing this week. We are upsizing, and hiring quite a bit.”
It’s something of an understatement for the news channel, which has stacked its lineup with familiar faces for TV news viewers, including ABC News and MSNBC veteran Dan Abrams, former CNN and ABC News anchor Chris Cuomo, former NBC News and ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas, Fox News alum Leland Vittert, and MSNBC and CNN veteran Ashleigh Banfield.
“When you look at our lineup, I think that there’s not a TV channel in America that wouldn’t be dying of jealousy today to see this murderer’s row of talent that we’ve assembled here,” Corn said, glancing at the flock of anchors assembled a few feet away.
The local TV giant Nexstar hosted its guests on the second floor of the landmark art deco Daily News Building in New York (it’s also known as the Superman building, thanks to its use as the home of The Daily Planet in the Superman films and TV series).
The purpose of the event was to officially cut the ribbon on new studios for both the local TV station WPIX and NewsNation. Among the guests milling around the studio was New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who was seen chatting with on-air talent from the local TV station and cable news channel, including Cuomo, Abrams, Vargas and Banfield. Nexstar CEO Perry Sook was also in attendance, helping to cut the ribbon.
“The contrast couldn’t be more stark,” Sook said. “If you look across the media landscape, you know there are layoffs going on at competitor companies. There are high-profile anchor terminations, I think is the appropriate word to say, and as Michael Corn said, we’re hiring and we’re looking to build this up.”
Earlier this month the channel went 24/5, broadcasting 24 hours per day Monday through Friday, and Sook said it would be 24/7 by the end of next year.
NewsNation’s New York studio is a testament to that investment. Executives touted the 359 LED panels and 112 TVs that were spread across the presentation area, and the studio has what the company claims is the largest TV control room in the world.
“I can vouch for that from the amount of money it cost to build,” Sook said to laughter from the crowd. “But you wouldn’t spend that money if you didn’t have this incredible team of journalists that you believe in and they believe in the mission and every day do their best to carry it out.”
Sook, who worked briefly as a local news anchor at a station in West Virginia before moving to the business side of local TV, pitched himself as NewsNation’s biggest believer. Vargas and Banfield recalled a meeting with him where he laid out his vision for the channel.
“This network two years in is further ahead than both Fox and CNN were in their journey 40-plus and 25-plus years ago two years in, and they had a whole lot less competition than we do these days,” he said. “I’m not concerned about the ratings, the minute by minutes, I’m concerned about doing good television — interesting television, smart television — and growing.”
Nexstar executives have said that NewsNation is already profitable (in addition to carriage fees, the company sells ad packages alongside its local TV stations and The CW, which it acquired last year).
With the rest of the TV news universe in chaos, NewsNation is hoping it can find a model that sticks, and that news consumers think as highly of the product as the executives running the show.
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