Richard Huff joined the New York Daily News in 1993, and he's been covering the television industry since 1986 when he joined the Hollywood Reporter. He wrote a book last year called “Reality Television,” which examined why the genre has become such a popular form of entertainment. He recently spoke to PRWeek about the challenges of covering the TV industry and his relationship with PR professionals.
PRWeek: What are the challenges of covering the television business in New York?
Huff: It is a competitive environment no doubt about it. We always try to come up with compelling, interesting and newsworthy stories geared for the guy that's watching television.
PRWeek: Is the TV media landscape oversaturated?
Huff: I think every area of media is facing that right now. What you try to do is present some unique and intriguing information to people who are buying the paper. We also have a strong online component and we do a lot of stuff exclusively for the Web. But there are still a lot of folks reading us on a train in the morning and at home at night who want to know what's on that night and if they should watch it.
PRWeek: Are you doing as much writing for the Web as you are for the paper?
Huff: No, not yet. Where it's changed a lot for us is when we get a breaking story. I put a lot of emphasis on the stuff I write on local television. So if an anchor is leaving we are going to pop that on the Web immediately and have a different story in the paper tomorrow. And we're doing a lot more of that than we ever have before. After the Emmy Awards we had a whole package of stuff that was only available online. We still had comprehensive coverage in the paper but we did things just for the Web.
PRWeek: Does the Web affect the way you approach your job?
Huff: It's a change in the mindset where we used to totally be focused on what was going to go in the paper the next day. You start to think that between the online sites and news radio you just can't hang on to things. We also have to compete in an environment where folks post stories online immediately so we're playing in that game.
PRWeek: What has your interaction with PR people been like?
Huff: I have had a really good experience with PR folks over the years. I've been doing this a long time and what you realize is that we've all grown up together and I can't completely do my job without their help and they can't completely do their job without my help. Sometimes we are not going to like each other in that equation and sometimes we are going to love each other, but at the end of the day we need each other. As long as you come into that realizing that it works out pretty well. What I like is when PR people know what we do and how we do it. That always helps.
PRWeek: So that means not pitching you something you won't ever write about?
Huff: Yes. One of the things I learned early on was always let the person make the pitch because they have been gearing up to make that call. But sometimes I'll get a pitch for cookies and I don't cover cookies. Another minor complaint is when I get a call from someone at 5:00 PM for a story that's a month out. Well I'm on deadline at that time and every basic PR person should know that and not call me pitching. I don't get angry— I'm just not listening as well as I would if you called me at 10 in the morning. So it's just minor things like knowing what our deadlines are and knowing what we normally cover and look for.
Name: Richard Huff
Outlet:New York Daily News
Title: TV Editor/ Columnist
Preferred contact method:RHuff@nydailynews.com