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Re: MESSAGE ID: 1EC610858
> Subject: Your Thoughts on TV Coverage of Los Angeles Freeway Chase
> Yesterday afternoon (April 30th), Los Angeles' TV stations, for the most
> part (as they seem to do every time one happens) pre-empted about an
> hour of regular programming to cover live yet another freeway chase.
> But this one was different. The suspect had briefly stopped to unflurl a
> banner (seen by TV news choppers) attacking Health Maintainace Organ-
> izations (HMO's). Then, resuming the chase, he eventually stopped his
> truck, set it on fire (killing a dog inside), then shooting himself in
> the head.
I think the frequency and especially the intensity with which LA stations
carry such stuff is ridiculous. To report them, with chopper footage, on the
regular news -- sure. This one was, because of the unusual nature obvious
early, going to be particularly newsworthy. To report them in detail live on
*radio*, absolutely -- radio reaches drivers who need that detail, not only to
avoid tieups but to ensure their safety. But live TV break-ins are overkill,
overemphasize the story, sensationalize, and -- while I'm one to think claims
that the news drives copycats are overdone -- there might be some of that
afoot here. The only police chase in LA that I can recall that merited cut-in
coverage was Simpson, and that was a *very* unusual situation that the nation
> While airborne cameramen/women tried to zoom-out as the man put the gun
> to his head, it was too late. The suicide was plainly visible.
That's an inevitable risk of live coverage. I saw a tape of one station's feed
this morning. Once the call was made to carry it live, this can happen. The
cameraperson on the footage I saw obviously hit the zoom-out as soon as what
was about to happen registered.
> This has, in the hours since, become the big topic in Southern California.
> Several journalism professors have expressed outrage, while others,
> both in and out of the industry, noted that because this incident was
> being broadcast live, there was no way that the chase was going to end
> this way.
I agree some with both..... live coverage makes this an inevitable risk. The
real question is should TV stations in LA go live as often as they do to these
chases. I think not -- not because of a desire to censor, and not principally
because they can end in a way that is horrid to view, but because they are
just not newsworthy to the cut-in level in the vast majority of cases on TV.
(Again, radio's different because of traffic and driver safety.)
Just my two cents plain.
Douglas J. Broda
Broda and Burnett
Attorneys at Law
80 Ferry Street
Troy, New York 12180
Fax: (518) 272-0381