Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday News Coverage - Adequate or Lacking?

When this idea fell into our laps, it was difficult not to just take it and run with it...

Sunday evening, as is our normal custom here at TSMW HQ in the suburbs of Cincinnati in Northern or Eastern Boone County, we were relaxing and taking a day to just unwind, watching our personal twitter page and chatting with friends.

Suddenly, a tweet came in from Fox19 senior producer Christi Reynard that had us pausing and saying, "What?":

"gas explosion at a vacant home in Florence. We got GREAT video."

Of course, this piqued our interest here, and we went looking for the information.

Our problem isn't with the websites. They all had SOMETHING about the house that exploded around 3:20 PM this afternoon in the 7200 block of US 25, just about .63 mile southeast of the TSMW HQ.

The problem is, most of the websites asked readers to tune in to the 11 PM news (or 10 PM in the case of WXIX 19/Newport and WKRC-TV 12/Cincinnati's subchannel 12.2).

When you're just hearing about it at 6:30, of course, there's not much you can do about it.

But...when a gas line explodes, destroying a home, and doing collateral damage to other structures, it's a smart move to inform the viewers as SOON as you know about it - especially those living in the immediate area.

We're going to check with those involved with decision making - but, we didn't happen to catch a single alert on any station in town in the first hour after it happened - and didn't even HEAR about the explosion until 6:30 PM, when the aforementioned tweet came in.

And it makes us much staff do the newsrooms have on Sundays? Maybe this is a question we need to ask people at WLWT 5/Cincinnati, WCPO 9/Cincinnati, 19 and 12...


joe beans said...

thank goodness that house blew up and allowed 19 to get some GREAT video! small sacrifice, to displace a family for ratings.

you stay classy, christi.

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

Joe, I do need to make it clear...all of the stories reported that the place was vacant. The owner of the house has been trying to sell it for a while now. The other buildings were, I believe, empty at the time of the blast.

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

And we don't usually cover the news angle of things like this. It only interested us because it showed me that not many people, apparently, are staffing local newsrooms on Sundays.

Anonymous said...

Channel 9 had a story and photo posted within 30 minutes, along with video from 6 within an hour... what else do you need?

Besides, sources say you were at Taco Bell at the same time as a news crew.

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

Anonymous 4:56 AM: One, yes I hit a taco bell establishment in town. But I didn't go there, nor was I near the scene, until AFTER 7 PM (and in fact, my recollection is that I looked at my cell phone clock which showed it being almost 8:30 before yours truly headed home). I did see the scene itself, for myself because I almost couldn't believe it had happened. (By the way, reports that it shook houses up to 2 miles away are true. I felt something here.) I only saw stories that had been published around 6:30 PM - which may have been updates to previous stories, but ALL those stories were "breaking news" on the websites even at 15 minutes before 7 PM, 3 hours post-event. Never once did I see anything via twitter from any station until the above tweet came in (around 6:37 PM), or any kind of breaking news alert anywhere else on TV. Correct me if I am wrong - but, shouldn't local stations run SOME kind of alert, whether going across the bottom of the screen, OR do a cut-in as soon as they know of the event? I didn't see either.

This leads us to another point: The explosion happened in the historic DOWNTOWN AREA of Florence, near Main Street's intersection with US 25 and US 42. Those US highways are all heavily traveled thoroughfares. 25 was closed well into the evening, or at least one lane was northbound. Shouldn't viewers know about that? Betcha if this had happened Monday afternoon instead of Sunday - every news operation would have had boots on the ground, reporting live by 4 PM. THAT is the point I'm trying to get to. Not that they DIDN'T cover it. They did. I didn't happen to see coverage until after 6 PM news had ended either online or elsewhere.

By the way, 5 and 19 both had video from the auto spa across the street from the scene today on their websites before 4 PM, so I'll give them points for that nice grab. (I suspect 9 and 12 have it, too.)

~TSMW Editor Jeremy Moses

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

Oh and one more thing, if you find the above referenced video - note how close the red car comes to being IN FRONT OF the house when it explodes! It passes by, and about 10 seconds later, the explosion, debris goes everywhere (there was broken glass all the way across US 25 [and that's, again, a heavily traveled roadway with 3 lanes]). Further, natural gas is highly explosive. IF someone had been on scene and lit up a cigarette, anybody within a half mile of the place would have been blown to smithereens. Sunday or not, is that not dangerous enough to be on air saying hey, stay away from this area until otherwise notified?

AloeAnal_042 said...

I'm just surprised that anyone visits this site. TSMW basically just reposts news and stories that other people/organizations/stations have originally posted.

You should stick to posts about the WWE. Those amuse me.

J. Moses(Tri-State Media Watch Editor) said...

I take offense to the above comment - but I will let it be posted as a criticism.

Let me be clear: When we get tips from readers, we DO pursue them. Such is the case with the story from Sunday night/early Monday morning. When we hear things from our readers - we go after information. If such information comes from other people's writing - okay, but we also strive to obtain confirmation from sources in question. Therefore - while we get what you're saying - understand that in some cases, the best information on a story, has already been written and there isn't much more we can add to it. If we're first to a story, we'll say so. We're a blog, folks. We're not the Enquirer; we don't have as many resources at our disposal as the Enquirer does although we do have some - and we rely on OUR READERS to tip us. If you think you can do better, go start your own blog...but don't be surprised if, when you've got information, it's already been discussed by someone else.