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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   July/August 1998  issue

Libin Large   

Scott Libin goes from the Poynter Institute to Minneapolis' KSTP-TV5.

By Jeremy Bond

Florida's Poynter Institute for Media Studies has lost Scott Libin, but Scott Libin hasn't lost Poynter.

Having worked as a faculty member at Poynter, Libin, 39, now practices what he preached, encouraging democracy in the newsroom and selecting limited goals as news director at Minneapolis' ABC affiliate, KSTP-TV 5 .

KSTP reporters "seemed startled about me admitting I don't have all the answers," says Libin, who joined the station this spring after a three-year stint at Poynter.

He admits it's rare for a TV station to tap someone from Poynter. But Ed Piette , KSTP general manager, thinks Libin can help.

"He brings vision; he brings a strong sense of fairness," Piette says. "He's creating the type of environment to let broadcasters grow."

After all, KSTP could use a boost.

When Libin signed on in April, three weeks before KSTP's fiftieth anniversary, the station had been without a news director for nearly eight months. Of the Twin Cities' network affiliates, KSTP was in third place for the eleventh straight year.

And it was battling with the commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, who issued a directive in May to its employees that he had to authorize all communication with KSTP.

The station filed suit after Libin notified Piette of the problem. Libin and Piette met with the commissioner, and the directive was dropped, as was the station's lawsuit.

One hurdle behind him, Libin, who previously served as news director at WGHP-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina, has renewed KSTP's commitment to investigative reporting.

But it may take more than hard-hitting stories to nudge the competition. "Saying we're going to be the 'hardest news station' is like saying we're going to be the grocery store that has food that won't make you sick," Libin says. "To compete in a field, you have to have a greater identification than that."

Every morning Libin holds a meeting where the staff – producers, reporters, photojournalists and managers – watch newscast clips that worked from the last 24 hours. "Even if it's just five minutes, to me it's a great investment in time," Libin says. "We're going from examining what does work rather than rubbing their noses in what doesn't."