Independent Network News (US)

This article is about the former syndicated news program from the 1980s. For the present day syndicated news service in the U.S., see Independent News Network.
Independent Network News
Also known as 'INN: The Independent News (1984–1987)
USA Tonight (1987–1990)
Created by John Corporon
Leavitt Pope
Presented by Bill Jorgensen (1980–1983)
Steve Bosh (1980–1984)
Pat Harper (1980–1985)
Brad Holbrook (1984–1985; 1988–1990)
Morton Dean (1985–1988)
Shelia Stainback (1985–1990)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 10
Location(s) Daily News Building, New York City
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) WPIX
Tribune Broadcasting
Distributor Tribune Entertainment
Original network Syndication
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release June 9, 1980 (1980-06-09) – June 1990 (1990-06)

The Independent Network News (INN) (later retitled INN: The Independent News and USA Tonight) is an American syndicated television news program that ran from June 9, 1980 to June 1990. The program aired seven nights a week on various independent stations across the United States and was designed to serve those stations in the same manner that the "Big Three" network news programs – ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News – served their affiliates.


The program debuted on June 9, 1980, under its original title Independent Network News. The newscast was a production of Tribune Broadcasting's New York City station WPIX, and was distributed by Tribune's syndication division as one of the first programs that the company produced for the syndication market. As INN was produced at WPIX, that station's on-air news staff presided over the broadcast. The nightly broadcast was helmed by a three-anchor team consisting of Pat Harper, Bill Jorgensen, and Steve Bosh with Jerry Girard reporting on sports and Roberto Tirado providing national weather forecasts (Tirado would later be replaced by Bob Harris), and WPIX's local reporting staff was also utilized for the program. Saturday and Sunday editions of INN were added to the schedule in October 1980.[1]

INN also used reports from its member stations, the Associated Press, United Press International, Visnews, and later CNN to supplement its own coverage. WPIX transmitted the national show's live feed at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time.[2] In the New York City area, WPIX paired a replay of the national INN broadcast at 10 p.m., with its own local newscast at 10:30, called the Action News Metropolitan Report.

As part of a midday expansion of INN starting in 1981, WPIX also experimented with a half-hour midday newscast at 12:30 p.m. that was co-anchored by Marvin Scott. During the decade, WPIX also offered the business-oriented news program The Wall Street Journal Report (which continues to air today in syndication and also airs on CNBC, albeit under the name of On the Money); and the Sunday newsmaker show From the Editor's Desk, hosted by Richard D. Heffner, to stations carrying INN.

Bill Jorgensen left the program (and WPIX) in 1983. Bosh and Harper continued to anchor together for another year until Bosh departed in 1984 to join KDFW-TV in Dallas. Brad Holbrook, who joined the operation a year earlier, became co-anchor with Harper. Also in 1984, WPIX dropped its Action News format for the station's local newscasts and decided to rebrand its 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. newscasts as INN: The Independent News, while it cancelled the midday newscast.

In January 1985, Holbrook was transferred to WPIX's early evening newscast and replaced on INN by veteran CBS News correspondent Morton Dean, who was hired by Tribune to anchor the national newscast. Four months later, Pat Harper departed from the program to join WNBC-TV; Sheila Stainback was then hired from WBAL-TV in Baltimore and assigned as Dean's co-anchor.

In January 1987, the national INN newscast was renamed USA Tonight and kept that name for the remainder of its run (WPIX, in turn, renamed the local broadcast that followed to New York Tonight). Two years later, Dean left Tribune to take a position at ABC News and was replaced by Brad Holbrook, the anchor he unseated three years earlier. Holbrook and Stainback served as the anchor team for the remainder of the national INN broadcast's existence.

USA Tonight continued to air into 1990, although by then far fewer stations were carrying the broadcast, partly as more focus was being placed on their own local news operations (by this point, the number of independent stations had decreased to some extent due to the earlier 1986 launch of the Fox network). With this in mind, Tribune Broadcasting chose to cancel the INN newscast in June of that year, while it retained some of the program's staff to cover news stories from Washington, D.C. for the Tribune stations. On March 13, 2009, Tribune Broadcasting officially closed the Washington bureau, citing economic reasons.

Stations airing INN

When INN premiered, the program aired on Tribune's three television stations at the time – WPIX, WGN-TV in Chicago and KWGN-TV in Denver. Other stations that later picked up INN were KCOP in Los Angeles; WVTV in Milwaukee; WSBK-TV in Boston; WKBD-TV in Detroit; KMSP-TV in Minneapolis; WHME-TV in South Bend, Indiana; WTTV in Indianapolis; WUTV in Buffalo, New York; WCIX in Miami, WDCA-TV in Washington, D.C., WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh, WTAF-TV in Philadelphia,[3] and KHTV (now KIAH) in Houston. and WCGV in Milwaukee which is Fox.

See also


  1. "Enter INN." Broadcasting, December 1, 1980, pg. 50.
  2. "Still another news group." Broadcasting, May 5, 1980, pp. 37-38.
  3. Independent Network News advertisement. Broadcasting, December 1, 1980, pg. 47.
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