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‘Inside Edition’ Using Investigations To Set Itself Apart

The O.J. Simpson case, the JonBenet Ramsey murder and other headline-grabbers are standard fodder for the syndicated magazine shows - so much so that research suggests that viewers, faced with a plethora of sensational stories hitting their TV screens, are finding it difficult to distinguish between shows.

That was one reason King World decided more than a year ago to open its coffers to reinvent veteran magazine strip “Inside Edition” as a serious, consumer-conscious, investigative program, according to Andy Friendly, executive vice president of programming and production. (The show airs weekdays at noon and Sundays at 4:30 p.m. on KHQ-6 in Spokane.)

The plan appears to be succeeding. In fact, in-depth special investigations, such as its George Polk Award-winning expose of doorto-door insurance sales and Craig Rivera’s “Inside Prison” episodes, will be stepped up by the “Inside Edition” production team in a continued effort to “stand out in the magazine crowd,” Friendly said.

The syndicated magazine strip, anchored by Deborah Norville, has been on the TV journalism awards trail with costly and often controversial investigations since Friendly came aboard 18 months ago. And the investment has been paying dividends in ratings, the company says.

Now, according to Marc Rosenweig, vice president of East Coast programming and production at King World, the number of special investigations will increase as they “strive to become the ‘20/20’ and the ‘Dateline’ of syndication.”

“We have brought together a terrific team. That is paying off with awards, and that is significant for us,” Friendly said.

While “Inside Edition” will continue to churn out the standard “tabloid” stories that make up the staple for access magazine shows, King World says it will continue to keep an open pocketbook for more investment in its investigative unit.

“We do our share of stories about JFK and Pamela Lee Anderson; they are requisite because that’s what brings people in,” Friendly said. “But when you add the element of serious consumer reporting, exposing scams and exposing the bad guys, you are offering added value.”