Tuesday, October 27, 2020

NEWS DILEMMA: OLYMPICS OR KILLINGS?

August 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

NBC News was faced with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma over the weekend after seven persons were shot to death, including the perpetrator, and three were wounded at a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Should it cut away from its coverage of the Olympics to report on the events at the scene of the shooting? Should it assign the coverage to its all-news-and-talk cable channel, MSNBC, which was also broadcasting the Olympics? What about its Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ, which was drawing one of the highest audience shares of any station in the country for the Olympics telecasts? How could it not switch to the scene of the crime? In the end, NBC virtually ignored the news out of Milwaukee. MSNBC aired its first report about it more than an hour after CNN and Fox News began their coverage. WTMJ at first aired a “crawl” over NBC’s coverage of the Olympic equestrian competition, then decided to go to the scene of the shooting with full coverage and let its digital channel carry the Olympics. Six hours later, it did a switch: the Olympics went back on the main channel; news, on the digital one. Other Milwaukee stations scrambled to cover the bloody event as quickly as possible after the shootings occurred, and some aired grossly inaccurate accounts about dozens of people being killed at the hands of as many as five gunmen. The last Milwaukee station to dump regular programming and switch to coverage of the shooting was CBS affiliate WDJT, which had been carrying the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Many viewers were displeased. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that local anchor Tom Durian later wrote on Facebook: “It saddens me to see people … asking that we return to golf. Folks, we are covering a tragic event in our community where family and friends are looking for any information on their loved ones.”