News Chiefs Talk Egypt Coverage

By Alex Weprin 

Broadcasting & Cable spoke to a number of network and cable news executives, to get their thoughts on how they have been covering the crisis in Egypt.

Each had their own perspective on the coverage, and how they will handle it going forward.

CNN’s Tony Maddox said that it is up to CNN’s journalists is they want to stay in Egypt to cover the story.

We’ve made it abundantly clear to our folks that if they want out, we’ll do all we can to help get them out as well. By and large, you’d be surprised at how many of these horrible looking stories people want to be in them, they get a sense of mission, a sense of purpose, they want to be in the thick of it. Makes you proud to work with people like that. But also some of our very bravest people are the ones that say, you know what, I’ve done all I can with this story, now I need a break from it and move on. Whenever anyone’s like that, we’re always very supportive and very quick to be able to facilitate it.

CBS News & Sports chief Sean McManus said that the coverage showed that there is still a commitment to international newsgathering:

And I’ll say one other thing: People talk a lot about the fact that networks don’t cover foreign new as much as they do or as much as they should and they’re closing the bureaus and all that stuff, but I am just continually amazed that whenever something happens in this country but particularly outside this country, the way the broadcast networks and the cable networks respond, and if you look at the kind of coverage that all of us have done for the last week, to say that there isn’t a commitment to foreign news or that the networks aren’t in a position to cover it is just silly. When it becomes the story that it is, I think we all have stepped up and done a remarkably good job.

NBC News VP of newsgathering David Verdi said his network was lowering its public profile, in the wake of the attacks on foreign journalists:

We are lowering our profile. For instance where we were broadcasting from a balcony, we’ve come off the balconies, we’ve shut our lights, we’ve tried to have the lowest profile that we could possibly have right now. We were fortunate to have had a great vantage point where we were overlooking the square but we unfortunately will not be able to broadcast from there tonight.

ABC News senior VP Kate O’Brian talked about Christiane Amanpour’s first encounter with violent protesters:

But if you watch the interview you can see, I could see Christiane sort of calculating how many questions can I ask and when is it wise to walk away? And she walked away exactly when she realized that this group was potentially getting unruly, which they did. They threw things at the car — now there was no immediate bodily harm to our folks. But that’s the closest I ever want to get. It was pretty amazing [Wednesday].