Idaho stations saving 10,000+ sheets of paper weekly

As part of the green initiative at NPG Co., which focuses on preserving company and environmental resources, the TV stations of NPG of Idaho assessed the amount of paper they were consuming to produce six hours of live newscasts each day. What they discovered shocked them.

Each day, the news and production departments ran through a whopping 2,000 sheets of paper. That’s 10,000 sheets each week – not including weekends. A typical newscast used three separate copies of the scripts (one for each anchor and one for the director).

Once the sheer volume of paper and associated expense sunk in, NPG of Idaho made the decision other NPG groups of stations had previous: To challenge its team to take the newscasts completely paperless. Their solution was to switch to an electronic script for the news anchors and the directors – a system which would not require the printing of each page.

The news production system used by NPG of Idaho, AP ENPS, now offers a mobile operating system designed to work with iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). AP was seeing what it called an “explosion” in the use of this mobile suite and launched a major software upgrade, to allow for script updates in the field. NPG of Idaho decided to move ahead in late 2011 to build the infrastructure as well as implement the newest software updates to test out the viability of eliminating paper scripts, switching entirely to iOS devices for news and operations.

During the final week of December 2011, the iPads arrived. NPG’s technical team had already completed the system testing and built a separate mobile server, repurposing an existing system. They loaded the new AP Mobile Suite on this separate mobile server. Their final step was to install a wireless access point in the studio and operations area, since the iPads would communicate with the new mobile server via WiFi.

Just before Christmas the main printer failed, and with no repairman available, the team decided to implement the paperless plan early. December 23 was the last time scripts were printed at NPG of Idaho, as they have been using the iPads since.

“The transition happened fairly quickly, everybody was behind it,” said Todd Kunz, KIDK anchor. “As for the anchors, it took a little bit to get used to not having paper in front of you, but it was purely just a mind set of not having that security blanket. Now it is the norm and no big deal. We are clearly using a whole lot less paper in our newsroom.”

To date, they have saved nearly 70,000 sheets of paper. Not a single pallet of paper has been delivered to the station since November, which previously had been a monthly occurrence. While not entirely paperless at this point, they anticipate having completely paid for this program by the end of the first quarter.

“The process of implementing this system went surprisingly smooth,” said Russ Haack, News Operations Manager for NPG of Idaho. “We are very happy with how the transition was embraced by all.”

Since NPG of Idaho operates six television properties in Idaho, the traffic department still prints a large quantity of formats and traffic instructions for the operations department. They are in the process of looking at more efficient ways to reduce or eliminate the need to print these program instructions each day, with the hopes of developing a solution by the end of March. Rechargeable battery options for wireless microphones are also being explored.

There are a few additional benefits to going paperless. “We don’t experience the hurry-up-and-wait-for-the-scripts-to-print syndrome any more,” said Haack, noting many times the printer would jam or run out of paper or ink. The iPad format also enables the custom electronic marking of scripts, for things such as director cues. “This is a process that is evolving and we are getting better at each day,” Haack stated.

More about the switch can be seen on two short videos on YouTube:

• Kelsey Lukens shows how he used the iPad: http://youtu.be/s1Tl6UzgM04

• Anchors Jay Hildebrandt and Karole Honas talk about the iPad: http://youtu.be/r6HLgdyvfX8