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WCPO-TV cutting 2 anchor jobs, adding 5 reporters

Courtesy WCPO-TV

The Scripps TV station is restructuring staffing to "build the largest reporting staff of any newsroom in Cincinnati."

Two anchor jobs are being eliminated at WCPO-TV, as the Scripps flagship station in Cincinnati shifts priorities to invest in five additional reporters.

Exactly who will be leaving and when has not been determined.

"We are making changes to staffing so we can build the largest reporting staff of any newsroom in Cincinnati. This will help us deliver the best coverage of communities across the Tri-State," says Jeff Brogan, WCPO-TV vice president and general manager.

"We are adding jobs that focus on our reporting and storytelling and will use the latest technology to help enhance our content."

A shift in the TV business paradigm — with younger viewers getting news and information from their phones and mobile devices instead of traditional TV newscasts — prompted the change from needing news anchor desk positions to wanting more reporters on the street.

Primary news anchors Craig McKee and Tanya O'Rourke no longer co-anchor WCPO-TV's 11 p.m. news.
Courtesy WCPO-TV
Primary news anchors Craig McKee and Tanya O'Rourke stopped anchoring the 11 p.m. news in November 2022.

"These changes in the audience and our business, plus our investment in reporting, mean we must eliminate positions to keep our station solid for the future," Brogan says. "Two anchor positions will be among those eliminated. These are tough decisions that we do not take lightly."

The Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Company has been researching what people "need from local news" for six years, Brogan says.

"People told us what they want, and we got the message, loud and clear. They care most about the coverage we provide in their neighborhood. That is where we are investing," Brogan says.

WCPO-TV has taken the boldest steps among Cincinnati TV stations with innovations to deal with a shrinking audience — similar to what newspapers experienced in the past 20 years — as people find different ways to consume news. My analysis of May TV ratings from 2018 to 2023 showed that the 11 p.m. local news audience dropped 45%, the 6-7 a.m. local news audience fell 42% and the 6 p.m. local news audience dropped 36%.

About 18 months ago, WCPO-TV became the first — and only — Cincinnati station to pull its primary news anchors, Craig McKee and Tanya O’Rourke, off the 11 p.m. news. McKee and O'Rourke moved to a day shift so they could report more stories. Jasmine Styles and Dayton-area native Evan Millward have anchored the 11 p.m. news since December 2022.

A "TOP STORIES" graphic introduced a national news roundup at 4:06 p.m. Tuesday.
Screenshot by John Kiesewetter
A "TOP STORIES" graphic introduced a national news roundup on the 4 p.m. news last October.

Last June, WCPO-TV’s 4 p.m. weekday news adopted the "Scrippscast" computer technology which de-emphasized the anchor role. Local and national reporters introduce themselves and their topics in self-contained packages after graphics reading "TOP STORIES," "MAKING NEWS," "YOUR HEALTH," "ECONOMY WATCH" or the 9 ABC WCPO logo.

Scripps also started a print-to-TV training program for journalists to transition from newspapers to broadcasting. Ten years ago, Channel 9 aggressively challenged the Enquirer/ with a huge digital investment in newspaper-like stories on local history, businesses, arts and entertainment on

Sinclair's WKRC-TV has chosen to go with only one on-air sports reporter, Chris Renkel, after not renewing Gary Miller’s contract in late August. Sinclair's Dayton TV newsroom also lists only one sports reporter.

WCPO-TV recently promoted Craig Cheatham, the award-winning chief investigative reporter, to a new position called "executive reporter." Cheatham will be "a leader and coach for our reporting team, building skills to make them even better journalists and storytellers," Brogan says.

"Most people get news in different ways than they did 15, 10 or even five years ago," Brogan says. "Like everybody else, our businesses sometimes must tighten our belts. While we are doing that, our priority is keeping up with audience needs, investing in the most important areas, and making sure our business is built to last."

As for the departure of two anchors, "we are focused on handling every step with care and respect for our team," he says.

Brogan also says the Scrippscast technology used for the 4 p.m. news and FC Cincinnati Weekly will be applied to Cincy Lifestyle at 10 a.m. and the noon and 11 p.m. newscasts.

"This technology tool doesn't dictate what the show looks like or what the content is. Our team decides that every day, for every newscast. We work to make each show interesting and valuable — right now, some of every newscast is live and some is on tape. That is true at Scripps stations across the country. We will always have live elements like weather and breaking news. This technology allows us to be flexible, like any other newscast. We can go live whenever we want," Brogan says.

The changes have been underway at Channel 9 "since the beginning of the year, and the new technology will launch in additional newscasts in the next couple of months," Brogan says.

Stay tuned.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.