This month, one of the biggest local news stories in New York was taking place more than a thousand miles away. Last week, both NY1 News and NY1 Noticias had reporters covering the budget crisis in Puerto Rico that led to the shutdown of government offices and public schools.
"We talked about it for a day and decided we had to go," said Steve Paulus senior vice president and general manager of NY1 News and NY1 Noticias. "We are the only local TV station that has gone down to Puerto Rico. [It’s] pretty remarkable how little [the other stations] are doing.”
Puerto Ricans represent 31% of New York's Hispanic population according to market research firm Synovate. Many have been in New York for at least a generation.
The budget story was covered by both networks but received heavier play on NY1 Noticias. For instance, the entire 20-minute interview with Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vila ran on Noticias. NY1 News aired a lengthy excerpt.
Paulus has only anecdotal data including e-mails from all five boroughs to indicate the travel decision paid off. "We are trying to provide a service for viewers that you can't get anywhere else," said Paulus. "It is not cheap to do this but this is the niche programming that is going to build an audience."
The move also could attract advertisers. Sprint Nextel recently signed a six figure deal to sponsor an on-air community calendar and is spending more on Noticias than on NY1 News.