Sunday, April 1, 2007

Christopher Edwards Verdict: Live Coverage

Even the best laid plans by Omaha TV stations to cover the verdict of the Christopher Edwards trial did not lead to the smoothest delivery.

From not knowing exactly how long it would take to learn of the verdict, to describing the reaction of the key players in the courtroom, to covering interviews outside the courtroom, it added up to frenetic, disjointed broadcasts that reminded viewers how much of a standard TV newscast is scripted.

KETV (Cox Channel 9)
KETV waited until mere seconds before a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy delivered news of the verdict to interrupt an infomercial. It also remained on the air longer than its competitors, signing off at 5:48 p.m.

No Explanation Needed: When the station was the first to show crime scene photos, anchor Suzanne Deyo interjected, “This is the mattress right here folks,” as a photo of Christopher Edwards’ blood-soaked mattress was shown.

Accuracy, Accuracy: Reporter Owen Lei referred to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine as “attorney general Don Kleine.”

Grade: A-

WOWT (Cox Channel 8)
The station benefited from the 5 p.m. announcement by having a regularly scheduled newscast in that time slot. However, just as meteorologist Jeff Jensen began delivering a forecast update, the verdict was getting ready to be read to members of the news media.

Look What You’re Missing: Because his camera and microphone were not in a position to move, reporter Brian New (and WOWT viewers) were forced to watch from afar as Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine was interviewed by other members of the media.

Tune In Tonight at 10: Anchors Jaime McCutcheon and Paul Baltes told viewers to tune in at 10 p.m. for Gary Smollen’s interview with one of the jurors.

Grade: B-

KMTV (Cox Channel 5)
The station that has staked its reputation on being Omaha’s “Breaking News” leader delivered news of the verdict (in a split-screen with CBS Sports’ coverage of the Final Four game between Georgetown and Ohio State), then quickly switched viewers back to the game - which was in a commercial break.

Teased, But Never Delivered: Reporter Michelle Bandur told viewers that reporter Kathy Sarantos Niver would have reaction from inside the courtroom but as Niver ran to the camera to deliver her report, in-studio anchors Carol Wang and Carlo Cecchetto cut off Bandur in mid-sentence and teased viewers of more coverage on the station’s 10 p.m. newscast after the basketball games.

Grade: C
Grade from college basketball viewers: A

KPTM (Cox Channel 10)
Viewers of the Fox affiliate were informed by onset anchor Scott Patterson of the verdict a few minutes after it was delivered. In the brief report that included no video or live coverage from the courthouse, Patterson told viewers to expect more coverage on the station’s 9 p.m. newscast.


Anonymous said...

For something that everyone anticipated for days (or even months really...) it sure seemed to take all the reporters and crew by suprise. Stumbles, panic and confusion were the norm on every station! It was almost embarrassing. It definatly showed what a small market we are here.

BD Johnson said...

I agree with 4:19.

If my station went to the trouble to set up lights and multiple cameras for live coverage, I would have a "floor director" of sorts at the courthouse to direct the key players where to do their interviews.

TV people do this all the time. So why not put someone in charge of shepherding all the spokespeople and family members - who didn't have a clue what they were supposed to do?

And what was Deyo doing BRAGGING up the bloodstained mattress photo? Who cares? Maybe she should have warned the viewers how graphic it was instead of using her little "ha ha we have the picture" voice.

Anonymous said...

Channel 3 did the best job whether you like them or not. They had very good live reports, then got me back to the NCAA game. What more did you want them to do?

Matt_X said...

While I agree with the importance to relay the information to the public, the problem I have is how the folks at 3 and 7 end up trivializing the case with the circus performances they put on. Maybe this is why part of why 3 keeps sinking in the ratings, and why 7 had such a hard time overtaking 6's inferior product, despite pumping so much money into the news department.

7 and 3 do a great job at getting a lot of info, better than anyone else. If they could just calm down and act like normal, compassionate human beings, maybe more of an audience could relate to them.

Obbop said...

No comment

Anonymous said...

That's the smartest thing I've seen you write, obbop. Sadly, the fact that you had to post, 'no comment' perhaps makes one wonder if you are simply just an attention whore. Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

With all the media coverage of this (which wouldn't have been done years ago), it just has to make one wonder how sick society has really become. I'm not just speaking only of the media here, as th media is a reflection of what society wants. This was just reprehensible. It's no wonder why I'm getting rid of my television.

Anonymous said...

Society wouldn't care about these stories if the media didn't report (in some cases, over-report) them. Certainly the O'Grady murder trial is news, but no doubt there was some sensationalizing going on. But now they can move on to the Altman-to-Arkansas story...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dana Altman. At least now we will hear about something else for the next four days.

Obbop said...

"That's the smartest thing I've seen you write, obbop. Sadly, the fact that you had to post, 'no comment' perhaps makes one wonder if you are simply just an attention whore. Hmmm... "

Takes one to know one, especially considering your post has no apparent purpose other than to boast thine ego.

Would be interesting to see your MMPI results. Me thinks thee would score sub-par in the emotional maturity category.

Art thou anal-retentive much?

Matt_X said...

Is it necessary for the Edwards Trial Blog, I mean the ACTION 3 NEWS EXCLUSIVE Edwards Trial Blog!! (explosions, sound effects, zooming in camera, wipe/zoom effect, etc, etc, etc) to still be front and center on kmtv's website days after the verdict is over?

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I like the way channel 42 did it the best. Put the important news out there, but leave time to edit and get the real facts on the table at the regular news time.

Michael Carnes said... mean the same KMTV website that was asking a poll question about the Nebraska-Oklahoma football game 3-4 months AFTER the game was played?

That Edwards blog still has a good 10-12 weeks left before they'll deem it "stale" and replace it with a blog about Dana Altman leaving Creighton.

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