You don’t need to be an investigative reporter to know that new hires announced by Channel 4 and Channel 7 highlight the areas both news departments are seeking to upgrade.
After a lengthy search, Channel 4 has found the missing piece for its investigative team in a Buffalo native and former Buffalo News reporter who has a 2012 Pulitzer Prize on her resume for her work with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Meanwhile, Channel 7 has finished its reboot of its morning show by hiring a 2012 SUNY Buffalo State graduate.
First things first.
Rose Ciotta, a Buffalo native who left The News years ago to work for the Philadelphia Inquirer, joins Channel 4 as an investigative reporter Aug. 5. Investigative reporting is an area the station has long said it planned to upgrade and accentuate.
“This highlights the commitment of our station and our parent company [LIN Media] to do quality investigative reporting,” said Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina.
In an email to the staff, Channel 4 News Director Joe Schlaerth said that Ciotta will join Luke Moretti, Jordan Williams, Lou Raguse and others doing investigative stories.
Williams and Raguse also are busy as anchors. From the Channel 4 release, it is unclear if Ciotta is going to be on the air or a researcher. The release states that Ciotta “will lead the News 4 Investigates team in its multiscreen reporting efforts, which include on-air, interactive features and online special sections.”
Schlaerth noted that Ciotta’s investigative series at The News included one on the abuse of emotionally disturbed youth in a West Seneca facility.
“Rose became a household name in town and is still remembered, and in some cases feared, a decade later,” wrote Schlaerth.
As senior projects editor, Ciotta was part of a large Inquirer team whose seven-part series investigating violence in Philadelphia’s public schools won a Pulitzer for public service in 2012.
This will be Ciotta’s first TV job. However, many investigative reporters in local TV started out as print reporters, including John Pauly, Tony Farina and Jim Heaney, who works at Channel 2.
Channel 7 also has added a TV newcomer to its new-look morning show roster. She is a beauty contest winner who has impressed her college professors academically.
Desiree Wiley will be a multimedia journalist and a traffic and lifestyles reporter for “Good Morning,” the simple name of the station’s new morning program that premieres in three weeks.
A graduate of Lockport High School, Wiley received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2012 with a concentration in political science and economics from Buffalo State. She completed her course work early with the help of Advanced Placement courses she took in high school.
Wiley’s college adviser, Nanette Tramont, said that the former communications department student impressed her teachers “with her drive and her poise. … She is a hard-working and responsible student, and I have every confidence she will be successful.”
Wiley is only a year out of college, which is a recent trend in local TV, after decades of requiring reporters to get seasoning in smaller markets out of town.
While Channel 7’s release mentioned her beauty contest background, it wasn’t emphasized immediately. But this being TV, looks do count for something.
According to a Channel 7 release, Wiley is currently Miss Empire Rose and was third runner-up for the title of Miss New York earlier this month. Before that, Wiley held the title of 1999 Little Miss Buffalo, 2000 Child Model of the Year, 2009 Niagara County Junior Miss, Miss Buffalo 2010 and Miss Niagara 2012.
Channel 7’s new-look morning team, which had been the smallest in local TV, now will include new morning anchors Cole Heath and Tiffany Lundberg, meteorologist Mike Randall, reporters Jaclyn Asztalos and Rachel Elzufon, and Business First reporter Elizabeth Carey.
The station is deep in third place in the morning. Morning co-anchor Patrick Taney had his last day at the station Friday, and co-anchor Ginger Geoffery has been told her contract will not be renewed.
New General Manager Mike Nurse is focusing on upgrading the mornings, which have become increasingly popular as viewers get up earlier, locally and nationally. That is evident by the morning expansion from a half-hour of news when it started more than two decades ago to at least two hours on every station in the market.
Nurse is hoping the station’s new morning look will get viewers to give the newscast a second look.