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In the aftermath of the roof collapse at WGAL last week, employees at the NBC affiliate were forced to come up with creative ways to keep the station on the air. Poynter has a fascinating look at how WGAL stayed up and running after the incident. “What we did was employ our breaking news plan,” news director Dan O’Donnell said:
O’Donnell was standing on the snow-covered station lawn when he said something out loud about needing to move the newsroom somewhere else quickly. An assistant fire chief heard him and suggested the station try the nearby city government building. Within an hour, newscast producers moved tables in the government office building to construct a make-shift newsroom. But there was still a big problem. No matter what, there still was no way to broadcast the news. “We used our website and Facebook to report,” O’Donnell said.
Once the newsroom was running, the WGAL team started producing streaming content for their website. But it took a lot of innovation. Reporters wanted to file stories, but there was no way to play the stories on the web stream. So they held up their iPads with whatever video they had captured and narrated and showed it on the tablet screen. A photojournalist focused on a screen while a meteorologist narrated information from the radar track.
Then there was the issue of the Olympics. WGAL is an NBC station and without an operation control room, the station had to scramble to find a way to get the network signal on air. Working with WBAL in Baltimore and WCAU in Philadelphia, the station was able to snag the NBC signal and keep the Olympics on the air.