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Former WBBM-TV Anchor Mendte: 'The World Has Changed... TV News Hasn't'

Larry Mendte, who was a news anchor and investigative reporter with WBBM-TV from 1991-1996, wrote an editorial column for Philadelphia magazine's new April edition. In it, Mendte brings up many points about why local television newscasts are on the decline and what they can do to fix it.

The article focuses on issues with Philadelphia's local newscasts, where Mendte was the top rated news anchor for many years after leaving Chicago, but addresses the issues with local television newscasts all across the country.

In the Philadelphia magazine column, Mendte writes:
Local TV news is getting desperate. Like a former lover who wants you back, it pleads for one more chance when you're watching prime-time programming. It promises things will be different: The special reports really will be special this time, and we're not kidding about the big snowstorm. It's coming. You'll be sorry.

But fewer and fewer viewers are giving local news another chance. We're getting our news on cable, iPads and smartphones, whenever we want and wherever we happen to be. ... When the news comes on, more and more people aren't just changing the channel: They're turning off the TV. Can you blame them?

The world has changed, and TV news hasn't. Anchors sit at a desk at a designated time, tossing to reporters at the scene of the story you already read about that morning. The weatherperson talks forever in front of a map; the sports anchor shows you 10 seconds of highlights from three games. As it was in the '70s, so it is now. My kids and their friends from elementary school could do a similar newscast with Flip cams, Skype, a green screen and video from YouTube, and it would be a heck of a lot more interesting.

Local news has to start not only changing with the times, but catching up with the times. We already have the information; tell us what it means. Give us reaction, perspective and expert analysis. To pull it off, quite frankly, they need smarter people. They need to stop hiring anchors who look the part but don’t understand or even care about the news they're reading from the teleprompter.

The complete column by Larry Mendte can be read at this link HERE.

While a news anchor in Chicago, Larry Mendte won 27 Emmy Awards (setting a record) was named Best Reporter by the Illinois Associated Press two of those years. In addition to his years on Chicago television, Larry Mendte worked as in TV news in New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and a handful of smaller markets in Pennsylvania & California. He also was the first male anchor of the syndicated entertainment news show "Access Hollywood," where he co-hosted alongside another former Chicago news anchor, Giselle Fernandez.

Mendte was forced to leave his job as a news anchor in Philadelphia in June 2008 when a behind0the-scenes scandal was uncovered. After hacking into the email account of a co-worker, news anchor Alycia Lane, hundreds of times over the course of a few months and secretly leaking some of what he read to the press, he was caught and charged with various felonies. He plead guilty to some of the charges and was given a sentence that included house arrest and probation. With that incident behind him, Mendte now does commentaries for the newscasts on Tribune Broadcasting-owned WPIX-TV in New York, which are sometimes syndicated out to Tribune-owned newscasts in other markets.

Larry Mendte is married to Dawn Stensland, another WBBM-TV anchor/reporter (1991-1994) and a Chicago native. They live in the Philadelphia area.

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