Analyzing Second Day Coverage of Bin Laden Death on New York City Stations

As you undoubtedly know by now, Osama Bin Laden was killed Sunday in Pakistan. Yesterday, local stations were still focusing their energy and resources on the latest developments, especially at Ground Zero.

First, though, a couple of good moves by WPIX. They were the only over-the-air station to carry the White House press briefing at 2 p.m., where presidential advisor John Brennan gave details of the firefight.  Reporter Howard Thompson anchored the coverage from their New York studios.

For its 10 p.m. newscast, Jodi Applegate flanked by a  full compliment of (mostly live) reporters did away with their “11 Stories in 11 Minutes” segment, and therefore the urgency (also variations on the same story) meant no rundown icons at the bottom of the screen.

Of course, Ernie Anastos and Dari Alexander had their own full coverage at 10 p.m. with multiple reporters, including Harry Martin at Ground Zero.

WCBS sent their anchor teams to Ground Zero for the early evening newscasts. Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson anchored a special 5 p.m. newscast, while Don Dahler and Dana Tyler did their 6 p.m. from the hallowed ground.

Yesterday, as we pointed out the void on WNBC without iconic Chuck Scarborough. Last night, WNBC yanked LX New York in favor of Bin Laden coverage at 5 p.m. Scarborough was joined by LX host Jane Hanson live from Ground Zero. (The duo spent several hours on the air together during September 11, 2001.) Unfortunately, while Channel 4 does get an “E” for effort, the same can’t be said for their audio.

Throughout the hour, the sound levels were terribly low. Eventually, they shared a mic, which only partially helped.

Scarborough, who acknowledged the audio issues more than once, closed the 5 o’clock broadcast saying, “We’ll try to get the mic working beautifully for 6:00 straight ahead. Stay tuned.” 

Remaining at Ground Zero, the 6 p.m. newscast had Scarborough anchoring with rising star Shiba Russell. As we documented, Russell was on the air Sunday night (Monday morning) for 90 minutes shortly after the news broke.

One other WNBC note, the somber music playing (at least during the 5 p.m. portion) showing The Death of Bin Laden on the screen, didn’t hit the right tone. Sure, the day would trigger many emotions as millions harkened back to 9/11. Still, though, the music seemed inappropriate, as the feeling that came across –“this death is sad.”  

Unlike their competitors, WABC only sent top anchor Bill Ritter to the spot where the Twin Towers once stood. But 6 p.m. co-anchor Liz Cho stayed behind in the studio.

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