Friday, December 28, 2007

The Game That Never Was

With no bowl for Big Red this season, more than 550 Nebraska Cornhusker football fans turned out for the “Bowl Game That Never Happened” at Omaha’s D.J.’s Dugout on Dec. 27.

Orchestrated by 1620 the Zone’s Kevin Kugler, the computer-simulated game was played on all the screens at the sports bar, and most of the fans attending treated it as if it were a real bowl game. Live play-by-play calls were also part of the action.

Listeners to Kugler’s 2-6 p.m. weekday sports talk show chose Notre Dame as the team NU should face in the quasi-bowl game.

Final Score: Nebraska 43, Notre Dame 31.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lite 101.9 switches formats

Lite 101.9 FM changed to the Big O 101.9 at 3 p.m. Thursday. The new format consists of ’80s rock targeting 25 to 54-year-old adults.

“It’s the music that many adults grew up with in Omaha, like Bruce Springsteen, the Police, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty,” said Billy Shears, program director at the Big O.

The voice of the Big O is John O’Hurley (pictured) of Mr. J. Peterman and “Dancing with the Stars” fame.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Paul Aaron's Next Venture: Indoor Football

Pinnacle Sports founder Paul Aaron is the new executive director of the United Indoor Football league.

According to a press release, Aaron will officially take over with the league that features the Omaha Beef after the first of the year.

"Between now and then, I intend to use the time to familiarize myself with league operations and plan a schedule for meeting with interested parties who have expressed an interest in the UIF," he said.

Aaron said he was excited about the UIF opportunity because he could use his previous sports marketing and management experience in an new and exciting way.

"It is a very exciting opportunity because the owners are all successful individuals with both the commitment and the resources to take an already successful league to an even higher level of success."

In 1996, Aaron and business partner Dale Jensen founded Pinnacle SPorts Productions, LLC. Pinnacle was the broadcast rights holder for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sports broadcasts including football, men's and women's basketball, volleyball and baseball. The Pinnacle Sports Network includes 68 radio stations in 16 states. Aaron sold Pinnacle Sports to Triple Crown Media Inc/Host Communications in September, 2006.

Aaron also has more that 28 years in the broadcast industry, primarily in upper management. Several stations he managed broadcast significant college and/or professional sports including Ohio State and Standford football, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers. His current business interests include a long term consulting agreement with Host Communicaitons and various real estate activities in Omaha .

The UIF's biggest challenge - according to Aaron - is having enough time to follow up with inquiries for potential new teams.

"The UIF is widely regarded as a successful, solid league with many advantages other leagues do not currently offer. Meeting with those who have expressed an interest and making sure that all of the elements for their success are present and that their geographic location is compatible with the location of our existing teams is essential and the first order of business."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

'The Big Show' Auction Will Help Shooting Victims

KXSP (590 AM) afternoon sports talk show host Matt Perrault told listeners Friday that he was looking for a way to do his part to help the victims and families of Wednesday's mall shooting.

His idea - to auction off sports memorabilia - took off during Friday's show. Already, nearly three dozen items are available for on-line bid (courtesy of Omaha's during Monday's program.

The list includes a baseball autographed by New York Yankee pitcher (and former Nebraska player) Joba Chamberlain, two tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs' game against the Tennessee Titans, a hat signed by Nebraska's three Heisman Trophy winners and an opportunity to sit on press row during a Creighton men's basketball game.

One Letter Makes A Big Difference

As the Leavenworth Street ("Talk of Nebraska Politics") blog points out, even under tragic circumstances, CNN can't help but make a political statement.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Westroads Shooting: National Stories Of Note

CBS Marketwatch reporter Jon Friedman says the media should stop its identifying crazed fame-seekers, such as the gunman who killed eight people Wednesday in an Omaha mall before taking his own life.

"Don't release their names or photos," Friedman writes in his column. "By taking such a bold step, television, print and web executives could help society and maybe even save lives. Media do-gooders often point to the positive ways in which they help people to live better lives. Now, those in charge can accomplish something truly noteworthy by doing nothing at all, and it wouldn't cost a dime."

* * *

Editor & Publisher magazine reporter Joe Strupp writes that the Omaha World-Herald initially sent 10 staffers to the scene of Wednesday's shooting and eventually had 50 of its nearly 200-person newsroom on the story in some form.

Unfortunately, few were able to access any of the reporting the newspaper was trying to provide on its website and its afternoon edition had already gone to press.

"Thousands of people were simultaneously trying to get to," Colleen Schinker told Strupp. "The site never went down, but many people could not get to the site."

NRG Media Establishes Relief Fund For Victims

NRG Media is working with First National Bank to provide an outlet for people to help the families of the victims of Wednesday's shooting at the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall.

NRG Media Promotions Director Julie Hansen said donations are being accepted in a variety of ways:

- At any Omaha-area First National Bank location

- By mail to: Westroads Victims Relief Fund, c/o First National Bank, 1620 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68102

- Through credit card or PayPal at the following NRG station websites:,,,, and

Hansen said 100 percent of the donated money will go to the families of the victims.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ABC Photographer Dies In I-80 Crash

ABC News photojournalist Ralph Binder, 58, died Thursday morning in a one-vehicle rollover on eastbound Interstate 80 near Wood River, Neb.

Binder and ABC audio specialist Daniel Johnson were traveling in a 1996 Chevy Utility truck when Binder lost control of the truck on ice. The truck rolled over into the south ditch, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

Binder was wearing a seat belt but was partially ejected from the truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Johnson, 49, was treated and released at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island. He was also wearing a seat belt, the State Patrol said.

Binder and Johnson were on their way to Omaha to cover Wednesday's shooting at Westroads Mall, according to a letter posted Thursday by ABC News President David Westin on the network's Web site.

Binder started at ABC News in 1974, working in the network's Washington bureau and most recently freelancing out of Denver. He was married to Joy Wolf, a freelance producer for ABC News, and was the father of two sons, ages 12 and 9.

More On's Problems

The problems the Omaha World-Herald's online portal,, has had in handling large amounts of visitor traffic have been well documented. But now, more than just Nebraskans are taking notice.

"Reflections of a Newsosaur" is a blog written by Silicon Valley CEO Alan D. Mutter. The former city editor of the Chicago Sun-Times later became the second-in-command editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Today, he is a managing partner of Tapit Partners, a two-man, think-tank that helps business owners create successful companies.

In a post titled, "Flat-footed in Omaha," Mutter takes the paper to task for problems he says were not technical, but editorial.

"The poor coverage evidently was caused by a lack of contingency planning on the part of editors, web producers, reporters, photographers and all the other people who are responsible for rapidly, thoughtfully and accurately gathering the information and visual assets necessary to tell a story like this in the age of multimedia."

For more than 24 hours after Wednesday's shooting, access to has been sporadic. Subscribers attempting to access the on-line "E-Edition" have also encountered an error message, rather than the standard sign-in dialogue box.

Perhaps most telling are the comments logged by professional journalists around the country (who are not posting anonymously).

[Update at 5:23 p.m.] stripped its web content to a single page, containing a single story and the following message:

"We are sorry. is experiencing extremely high traffic.The site is still operational, but it may take some time for you to access it."

KFAB Interview: Hawkins Was Selling Drugs At School

A parent of a Papillion-LaVista South student and his daughter told KFAB Thursday morning that the Bellevue Police Department and Sarpy County Sherrif’s department did not act when presented with evidence that Robert Hawkins was selling drugs at school and threatening to harm them.

The student - “Mandy” (not her real name) – said she was an acquaintance of Hawkins and a close friend of Hawkins’ ex-girlfriend.

Mandy said she was threatened as recently as a month ago by Hawkins, who told her he was going to kill her and her family and burn their house down. Mandy said Hawkins accused her of stealing something from his car.

“I actually told him, ‘Yeah Robbie, I’d like to see you do that. I didn’t believe him,’ ” she said.

Mandy’s father, who was identified as “Bob” but said he has previously worked in law enforcement himself, was also part of the interview by Gary Sadlemyer and Scott Voorrhees. He said both law enforcement agencies ignored him because a Bellevue police officer’s own son was allegedly involved in the drug dealing at school.

“This guy (Hawkins) brings narcotics to Papio South every day and they're not doing anything,” Bob said. “The second time I went in there (to the police department), I told them I would give them until 4 p.m. Amazingly, I heard from a narcotics officer that day. But on our stake along, he could not go on without more proof.”

Perrault: KMTV Should Have Had Alternate Plan

Matt Perrault, while expressing compassion for the victims, said he was disappointed that KMTV-3 did not have an “alternate plan” to show Wednesday night’s Creighton-Xavier men’s basketball game. The KXSP (590 AM) afternoon sports radio host said he was inundated with messages from unhappy Bluejay fans who had hoped to watch the game on KMTV at 7 p.m.

“I was hoping for at least a split screen (broadcast) of the game,” Perrault said Thursday morning on “Todd and Tyler’s Radio Empire” on KEZO (92.3 FM)

KEZO, KMTV and KXSP are all owned by the Journal Broadcast Group.

Perrault said he will take time during “The Big Show” from 2-6 p.m. to talk about the shootings.

"There is a sports angle to this with Virginia Tech and how they dealt with it and how they moved on afterwards, how did they respond, how did the community respond," Perrault said.

Click here to listen to the segment in its entirety.

A poll on "The Bluejay Cafe," a message board for Creighton fans, was running 3-to-1 early Thursday morning in favor of KMTV showing the game.

The Front Pages

Above, from left: Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News.

Above, from left: Lincoln Journal Star, Kansas City Star

Above, from left: Omaha World-Herald, Diario de Pernambuco (Brazil)

Above, from left: North Platte Telegraph, New York Post.

All images above courtesy of The Newseum, except for the North Platte Telegraph.

How Omaha Media Fared When Put To The Test

Suddenly, that "snow event" forecast for Thursday, seemed insignificant. Even President George W. Bush's trip to Omaha earlier Wednesday - only the ninth time Bush has visited the city and eight more times than President Bill Clinton - was nearly forgotten. (Bush left town about a half-hour before the shootings.)

You didn't have to be at the Westroads Mall Wednesday afternoon to know something big was going down. Omaha Police cruisers, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, barreled down streets from every corner of the city to converge on what would turn out to be the largest one-day shooting massacre in the city's history.

Omaha media have covered mass-scale tragedy before - but not of this magnitude and on such a national stage. Only three people died in the Tornado of 1975, but the widespread, sweeping damage made it a mammoth undertaking for reporters in a time when news didn't travel nearly as fast.

More recently, the crash of a Seward school bus in West Omaha - one that took the lives of four people in October of 2001 - sparked massive, immediate media coverage. But on that Saturday afternoon, college football games took precedence over breaking news coverage.

Perhaps the closest thing to this tragedy was the bank robbery shooting deaths of five people in Norfolk, Neb., in September of 2002. But while that event attracted as much national attention, it did not get wall-to-wall coverage from Omaha media outlets.

The Early Going

The first dispatch by The Associated Press out of its Omaha bureau was headlined, "Man reportedly shot at Omaha mall; stores locked down" and it only hinted at the horror that was to come:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Police have locked down a busy Omaha mall after at least one person was shot this afternoon.

That report, though, came nearly a half-hour after Omaha TV stations first interrupted regular programming with early reports of the shooting. What followed would be more than eight hours of uninterrupted TV coverage by the city's ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.

WOWT was clearly the leader in breaking new (and accurate) information. The station recorded many "firsts" including: that the gunman had died of a self-inflicted gunshot (courtesy of investigative reporter Mike McKnight), that he was 19-year-old Sarpy County resident Robert Hawkins and that he had left behind several suicide notes. WOWT was also first on the scene of a Bellevue home with Maniko Barthelemy's interview with the woman who said she was letting him live there after he had been kicked out of his own home.

WOWT also took a rather somber approach in its coverage. Anchor Tracy Madden was overly subdued, then suddenly reverted to her standard delivery during the station's late-evening newscast. Reporter Brian Mastre took a contemplative approach to his delivery - which, combined with his across-the-street location for live shots - made it seem as if he was more distant from the event than he actually was.

KETV broke out its playbook that has consistently made it a must-watch station for breaking news. The ABC affiliate pulled out all the stops with multiple live shots and live streaming coverage on early on. When no new information was coming in hours later, the station trotted out reporter after reporter on set to share their own stories of what they saw and heard.

Of course there's no substitute for experience and KMTV's anchor team of Carol Wang and Carlo Cecchetto - who will have been on the job one year next month - came off as the outsiders they are when compared to their competitive anchor counterparts at WOWT and KETV. Their saving grace was veteran anchor Mary Williams, a Bellevue native who has worked at the station for more than 20 years.

KMTV's Cecchetto, though, offered one of the most compelling first-hand accounts by any media type, though, when he told viewers that he had been in the Von Maur store - at the customer service desk to pay a bill - just five minutes before the shootings.

"(It was) kind of eerie," Cecchetto said during a segment. "Just moments later he (Hawkins) was roughly at the same spot, shooting down at people on the second floor. Watching the video, I saw a lady wearing a turquoise sweater and blouse who was working at the counter who I paid my bill to and who was lovely and wonderful and cheerful and had that holiday spirit. A couple hours later, I see her outside in the cold, comforting herself, shaking and crying. It's a reminder of how violence can shake everything you know and throw it upside down."

Noticeably absent from KMTV's coverage was veteran reporter Joe Jordan, who broke the story earlier Wednesday of an expected showdown between US Senate candidate Mike Johanns and longtime Republican-now-registered Democrat Tony Raimondo, a Columbus, Neb., businessman. Jordan extensively covered the President's visit to Omaha, only to see most of his prepared report shelved in favor of shooting coverage.

World-Herald Left To Play Catch Up

Has the state's largest newspaper ever been so out of touch with a breaking news story? In a day when a website can keep a print outlet even with its electronic competitors, the Omaha World-Herald's web portal,, folded like a Kevin Cosgrove-coached Nebraska defense, buckling under the pressure of thousands of visitors. And it came as no surprise. The same thing has happened twice before in the past month: First, when Tom Osborne was hired and Steve Pederson fired as Nebraska's athletic director; And Sunday, when Bo Pelini was announced as the Huskers' new head coach. The newspaper also had the unfortunate timing of having gone to press with its afternoon edition at about the same time as the shooting was taking place.

There were lows on TV and radio, too. KETV's Todd Andrews practically gushed that he "grew up in Westroads Mall." KPTM's Amanda Mueller asked one of the station's reporter whether Hawkins - other than his depression, the loss of his job and the break-up of his girlfriend - had showed any signs that he might snap.

One station (KMTV) initially reported that police were looking for two suspects. More than one station initially reported that the suspect was "a black male." Both of these erroneous reports came as a result of reporting police scanner traffic - something the Poynter Institute decries.

The dreaded "shots rang out" cliche reared its ugly head several times, though not a single witness to the shooting described the gunfire they heard in that manner. Rather, many said they mistook the sound of the shots as balloons popping or the sound of construction.

Radio station KFAB, which had earlier pulled out all the stops in putting "all hands on deck" at the scene and on the air, interrupted coverage of the Nebraska men's basketball game later Wednesday night for a "report of a bomb at the Westroads Mall." Thankfully, afternoon talk show host Tom Becka quickly interceded to clarify that police were simply checking out a vehicle thought to belong to the shooter. Unfortunately, listeners were left to wonder what was going on thereafter, as the station decided to take audio from KETV's broadcast.

What Lies Ahead

So what's to come over the next few days and weeks and months? Already there is criticism that the media has given Hawkins the very attention he sought by going on his killing spree. A debate rages over gun control in the comments on one website and a 9:30 a.m. press conference is already set to release more details.

There will be the makeshift memorials, the identification of the victims and their stories, many more stories of heroics and tragedy. Questions are sure to come about the six minutes it took for police to respond. Or what involvement mall security had (or did not have). The release of calls to 911. Possibly even surveillance tape will be leaked, particularly since the shooter didn't live to stand trial. Even the Omaha World-Herald is expected to face questions about its front page story in Sunday's editions marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Starkweather's killings (He, too, was 19 at the time.) and whether it glorified a tragedy and served as a blueprint for Hawkins' massacre.

"Good Morning America," "The Today Show" and countless other network and cable news programs are sure to have interviews with those who were in the store when the tragedy unfolded. Someone will undoubtedly court an interview with the Von Maur pianist, who reportedly played on (unwittingly) after the first sound of gunshot. And what became of the mall Santa Claus during the shooting? Where and how did he take shelter?

And you can expect World-Herald columnist Mike Kelly to write something along the lines of "Omaha will no longer just be known as the home of the College World Series."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Westroads Shooting: Coverage Notes

KETV-7 and KMTV-3 benefited from having fixed "skycams" near the Westroads Mall, allowing them to give viewers an early bird's eye view of the scene.

KETV was first to feed video back from the scene (pictured at right).

At least two stations (KMTV and KETV) reported "police scanner" and "police radio" reports indicated that at least five people were shot. At about 2:15 p.m., KMTV reported that "two people were dead" and "two suspects were being sought."

The Journal Broadcast Group switched some of its stations to a simulcast of KMTV's audio around 2:20 p.m.

A KKAR (1290 AM) staffer identified as "Heather" was inside the mall at the time of the shooting. She filed a report for the station from the back of an ambulance, where she had been evacuated to after police arrived.

CNN began broadcasting live coverage, courtesy of KETV. Omaha native Dan Simon, (a former KPTM producer and current CNN correspondent based in San Francisco), said it was the "last place you would expect violence like this."

KPTM-42 was last to begin live coverage, which was eventually picked up by CNN (around 2:40 p.m.) and FOX News Channel.

MSNBC took WOWT's live coverage.

KETV broadcast still photos taken by "Todd Trimpe" of a man in a green vest being questioned by police. He was reportedly hiding under a nearby bus bench outside the mall. Trimpe also e-mailed the photos to other news outlets and KFAB morning talk show host Scott Voorhees.

WOWT reporter Mike McKnight was the first to report that the shooter had died of a "self-inflicted gunshot."

The Omaha World-Herald's web portal,, went down at 2:15 p.m. due to heavy visitor traffic. It resurfaced shortly after 5 p.m. with a story, a video and a link to a new "World-Herald blog" that contained a single posting.

WOWT-6 reporter Jason Joseph reported from Creighton University Medical Center that he had spoken to someone who was at the hospital, accompanying someone "who had been injured in a gunfight with police."

KMTV reporter Michelle Bandur reported at 3 p.m. that there may be "up to five more victims" inside the mall after several victims had been taken from the scene.

KFAB afternoon talk show host Tom Becka and producer Matt Tompkins went to the scene to join News Director Tom Stanton. KFAB occasionally took portions of KETV audio. Becka also filed live reports to MSNBC.

KKAR reporters Brian Barks and Terry Leahy were also on the scene.

Radio news coverage prior to the police press conference noticeably lagged behind that of their TV news counterparts.

Moments after anchor Carlo Cecchetto referenced "privacy concerns regarding HIPAA laws that authorities have to respect" KMTV broadcast a mug shot of "shooting victim" Jeffery Schaffart, a 34-year-old Omaha attorney, who was hospitalized in fair condition. (The station later explained it spoke with Schaffart before he was taken away by rescue squad.)

Nearly every news outlet broadcast a press conference outside the mall at 4:05 p.m. At that time, the death toll rose from two confirmed dead to nine - a figure which included the shooter. Police say "every available officer" was sent to the mall after the call to 911 of an "active shooter." The response time was six minutes.

WOWT's website headlined the incident as "The Mall Massacre."

At 4:23 p.m., KETV broadcast raw videotape of an interview with a woman who described herself as a "wrapper" at Von Maur. The woman revealed several victims' names, including that of her boss. The tape was then fast-forwarded to a point later in the interview.

KPTM's Taylor Wilson reported that the Von Maur pianist continued playing after the first couple of shots "rang out." Witnesses said they thought the sound of gunfire was actually construction.

WOWT was first to report (at 4:30 p.m.) that a 19-year-old Sarpy County man left a suicide note in a home in Bellevue that read, "I'm going out in style." According to the station, the man’s vehicle was found in the mall parking lot.

On Friday night, a grenade was found Friday night in the the northwest corner of the parking lot at Westroads Mall. The Omaha Police Bomb Squad Unit was called and safely removed the intact grenade.

WOWT began simulcasting its coverage on News On One (Cox Channel 1) at 4:30 p.m.

At 4:35 p.m., KETV reported on the suicide note without revealing specifics, saying only that the Sarpy County Sheriff's department was given the note by a woman around the time of the shooting and the information was passed along to Omaha police.

By 4:40 p.m., a Google news search indicated that more than 650 stories had been posted about the shooting.

The Lincoln Journal Star asked people who were in the mall at the time of the shooting to e-mail the newspaper.

One of the most compelling interviews was with a woman identified as "Teresa" who told WOWT reporter Brian Mastre that she worked at JcPenney. "I saw a guy run by with a huge gun. At first it didn't register. Then, there was a woman who had an awful look on her face with two little kids. She was practically dragging the one and pushing the stroller and saying 'he has a gun and he's shooting people.'" Teresa told Mastre that she got the woman and the two children to a safe area and used her store radio to warn others about the gunman.

Only KMTV (who subbed midday anchor Mary Williams for the vacationing Carol Wang) was without its normal main anchor team during wall-to-wall breaking news coverage that began shortly after 2 p.m. Wang later joined Cecchetto and Williams on the set. Cecchetto told viewers that five minutes before the gunman opened fire, he happened to be at the customer service desk on the third floor of Von Maur, paying a bill.

"Kind of eerie," Cecchetto said. "Just moments later he was roughly at the same spot, shooting down at people on the second floor. Watching the video, I saw a lady wearing a turquoise sweater and blouse who was working at the counter who I paid my bill to and who was lovely and wonderful and cheerful and had that holiday spirit. A couple hours later, I see her outside in the cold, comforting herself, shaking and crying. It's a reminder of how violence can shake everything you know and throw it upside down."

KMTV was also the only TV station to broadcast live (at 4:57 p.m.) a press conference at the Creighton University Medical Center. KPTM joined the news conference in progress. WOWT reporter Justin Joseph (identified as "Justin Jospeph" on the chyron) also reported on the press conference by phone.

At 5:01 p.m., Maniko Barthelemy reported by phone from outside the Bellevue home of the 19-year-old who was thought to have left the suicide note. WOWT anchor John Knicley also reported that the man was facing charges of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

Several stations revealed that Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren were both out of town during Wednesday's shooting.

KMTV reporter Dave Roberts may have been the first reporter on the scene. Roberts told viewers he was driving to work on nearby I-680 when he heard the call of a shooting on the police radio. Roberts also reported that seven of the victims were found dead in the mall. Two others died enroute - or at - local hospitals.

At 5:16 p.m., KMTV reported that it received information from the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department regarding the suicide note referenced earlier by WOWT and KETV.

Four minutes later, KETV revealed the name of the shooter as "Robert A. Hawkins." A caller identified as "Shawn" said Hawkins "did a lot of things he shouldn't have done." "He was bouncing around jobs and got kicked out of Papillion-LaVista schools about two years ago," Shawn said.

More than an hour after Omaha Police revealed that the shooter used a rifle to commit the slayings, KETV's "breaking news" crawl read, "Don't know what type of gun was used."

KPTM was first to abandon wall-to-wall coverage of the incident.

Omaha bloggers were quick to weigh in on the tragedy, as well as on local message boards such as and

At 5:35 p.m. Barthelemy interviewed a woman identified as "Debra" who was identified as the "owner of the home of the shooter" (WOWT was not naming him at the time) and that she found out that the 19-year-old had lost his job earlier Wednesday. "Part of the note said he had snapped," Debra said. Barthelemy also reported that Omaha Police were set to arrive at the home with a search warrant. At 5:41 p.m., Knicely and co-anchor Tracy Madden identified the shooter as "Robert "Robbie" Hawkins."

At 5:45 p.m., KMTV had not yet made a decision to carry the Creighton-Xavier basketball game, which was scheduled to tipoff at 7:05 p.m. in Cincinnati.

Thirteen minutes after WOWT - and 28 minutes after KETV - KMTV reported the name of the shooter as "18-year-old Robert Hawkins."

Farrah Fazal of KETV began broadcasting live at Hawkins' home around 5:50 p.m. She also interviewed the woman WOWT identified as "Debra." Fazal reported that Hawkins had been fired from McDonald's, that Sarpy County Sheriff's deputies had blocked off the road to the house and that Omaha Police were not yet on the scene. She also said Debra said the suicide note read that Hawkins "would go out being famous." KETV also broadcast video of the home in Bellevue's Quail Creek neighborhood.

KMTV broadcast a statement from President Bush at 6 p.m., expressing his sympathy for the Omaha community. Coincidentally, Bush was in Omaha earlier in the day, visiting a South Omaha business and the home of prominent Omaha businessman Walter Scott.

Yahoo posted a slideshow of the incident, courtesy of Associated Press photographers.

KETV reporter Carol Kloss said approximately 100 people who were inside the mall at the time of the shooting were still being debriefed more than four hours later.

Omaha radio station KSRZ "Star 104.5 FM" announced that morning show co-hosts Glennboy and Glo will take listener calls to hear the stories of those affected by the tragedy. The station also invited its listeners to post messages on its community message board on the front page of its website.

At 6:30 p.m., KMTV reporter Devon Patton reported from outside Hawkins' home by phone just moments before the station established a live picture. Williams, a Bellevue native herself, was very familiar with the neighborhood and shared some background information on it with viewers. Patton said he learned Hawkins was a hunter and experienced shooter. A chyron accompanying his report noted that Hawkins was 19, not 18, as the station previously reported. Later, Patton introduced his taped interview with "Debra" (shot in the station's live truck) by telling viewers "we're going to give you that interview right now live."

Patton's interview revealed that it was "so out of character" for Hawkins to go to a mall. "He didn't go to malls," Debra said.

Several reporters - WOWT's Mastre and KETV's Brandi Peterson - were using the parking lot of the nearby Hampton Inn to file their live reports. Coincidentally, that motel became a gathering point family members of the victims to meet with grief counselors.

WOWT terminated its live simulcast on News on One at 6:38 p.m.

KMTV reporter Chriss Knight broadcast a live (phone) interview with Schaffart, the Omaha attorney at Koley Jessen, who was shot in the arm. reported that a viewer e-mailed the station the following: "I went to school for seven years with (Hawkins) and he seemed to be a suicidal kid. During school, he would talk about killing or something along those lines."

(Media Watch concluded its live blogging at 6:55 p.m.)

McWilliams' Unit Scheduled To Return

KETV meteorologist (and Army National Guard Lt.) Chuck McWilliams is scheduled to return to Omaha this afternoon along with other members of the National Guard's 755th Chemical Company. visitors have been able to follow Lt. McWilliams through his station blog, the "Lieutenant's Lounge."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

From The Notebook

Even though he has changed schools, former University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Steve Pederson still refers to himself in first person plural:

"We are thrilled to be back in Pittsburgh," Pederson said at his introduction Friday as Pittsburgh's new athletic director. "Leaving here five years ago was the hardest professional decision we had ever made. Coming back was the easiest decision we had ever made."

One reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review called Pederson the "good-luck charm" for the Panthers' upset of West Virginia Saturday night.

"New athletic director Steve Pederson -- is he a good-luck charm, or what? -- was standing on the sidelines for WVU's final, heart-stopping play, a 4th-and-17 from the Pitt 28 as the clock ticked down," wrote Joe Starkey.

* * *

KOZN (1620 AM) "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" co-host Kevin Kugler said the hiring of Bo Pelini as Nebraska head football coach is another step toward cutting ties with recruiting services like

"You first saw that in Tom Osborne's press conference when he was introduced as interim athletic director," Kugler said. "He puts no stock in these recruiting services and neither does Bo. That was something from the previous regime."

Locally, (also known as " reporter Sean Callahan files reports for several news outlets, including WOWT-6, KOLN/KGIN in Lincoln and KFAB.

* * *

KPTM-42 Sports Director J.J. Davis cracked up the press corps and much of the audience at Sunday's press conference when he asked Pelini if he felt like "the man" after getting the job.