NEW YORK — WNBC has claimed bragging rights in its ongoing battle for local-news dominance with WABC by announcing Thursday that it has lured away WABC’s political correspondent Jay DeDapper.
This hiring comes on the heels of WNBC’s signing three months ago of WABC’s 10-year veteran investigative reporter Tim Minton.
It’s unusual for two experienced reporters of one network-owned station to jump to a network-O&O competitor within such a short period of time. Paula Madison, VP and news director of WNBC, says, “We’re going to give these reporters a chance to offer more perspective, analysis and intelligent discourse on the air,” implying that WABC was not up to speed in these areas.
WABC sources say the station is not losing any sleep over DeDapper and Minton’s defections, pointing out that a number of its top newspeople have recently renewed their contracts, including the investigative reporter Jim Dolan, who resisted an aggressive offer from WNBC. Other WABC signups include the anchors Rob Hanrahan and David Ushery and the weatherman Sam Champion.
Wanted to work with veterans
DeDapper says he ankled WABC at least in part to work with the news producer John Sparks and the veteran political reporter Gabe Pressman. “Pressman has been reporting the news longer than I’ve been alive,” says DeDapper.
“WNBC gave me a longstanding commitment to investigative reporting,” says Minton, who joined WNBC April 2. “But the station said I could also do breaking stories and put together occasional half-hour reports.”
A WABC official who requested anonymity says the station will continue to encourage investigative reporting. This official also says that anchorpeople are still the most important ingredient of local newscasts, and DeDapper and Minton will never be able to transfer their skills from reporter to anchorman, making them less valuable to the station’s overall strategy.