Life in the Slow Lane

May 13, 2008

How the networks covered the standoff

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 10:02 am

Most people watched with great interest the I-190 standoff Monday night in Buffalo. All three major networks covered the three-hour standoff, which ended with no one getting hurt. Here are some thought on how the networks – which on the local level have limited experience with extended, uninterrupted coverage – handled the showdown.

The story can be seen here: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_133234759.html

All three networks – If you claim something is live, it should be LIVE. A 20-second delay, seven-second delay or any delay is NOT LIVE. Having a delay is fine, just don’t use the word “live” anywhere in your coverage.

Channel 2 (WGRZ) – The worst of the three. For about a half-hour, they had no live camera shot, instead reairing previously shot footage while a reporter spoke over the phone to the studio team. When they finally got a live shot – presumably the delay was because police cut off cameramen shooting from off the thruway near the shoreline – it was so far away that the footage was nearly useless. Multiple technical errors were also experienced, as multiple interviews were disconnected before they began.

Channel 4 (WIVB) – Had an eyewitness interview of someone who saw the truck in Niagara County, which was good, but the interviewers clearly didn’t know how to handle it. They repeated questions up to five times, also reasking things that the witness had volunteered seconds earlier. Their delay was several minutes, which just makes them look silly.

Channel 7 (WKBW) – The first network to offer the camera shot from the shoreline, which allowed viewers to see the gunman pacing, agitated on the phone with the gun in his hand. They were the last network to deduce that the couple was from out of town, and their trademark technical glitches were noticeable throughout, such as a graphic that was not updated at the standoff’s conclusion. Did the best job of trying to offer new information, but the two reporters on the scene spent too much time competing for air time.

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