Oregon Stations Scramble to Cover Campus Shooting

By Kevin Eck Comment

Following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., this morning, local affiliates and national networks scrambled to get whatever information they could on the air.

Roseburg is in rural Southwest Oregon, between two of the state’s TV markets: Eugene, 70 miles to the North, which is DMA 119, and Medford/Klamath Falls, which is 100 miles to the South, and market 140.

KEZIBut it was clear from the outset this was going to be a big national story. Of the four Eugene affiliates, only Heartland Media’s ABC affiliate KEZI was already producing a newscast, with the first report of the shooting at 11:14 a.m. PT. By 11:26, reporter Amber Wilmarth (at right) was about a mile from the college with news that the campus was on lock down. The station later had the first video from the college, which was shown on Fox News.

The three other Eugene stations relied on network special reports for the first reports: California Oregon Broadcasting-owned Fox affiliate KLSR aired a special report from Fox News Channel’s Jenna Lee. Roberts Media-owned NBC affiliate KMTR took a feed from NBC News’s Lester Holt around the same time. Sinclair’s CBS affiliate KVAL took the CBS News feed with Jim Axelrod anchoring.

Portland stations, nearly three hours away but with more resources, took the lead in reporting the news.

NBC affiliate KGW broke in at 11:17 a.m. with Russ Lewis in the studio. His information was from the Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boyce who said the shooter was down. ABC affiliate KATU hit the air about a minute later with anchors in the studio and a promise of crews on the way. CBS affiliate KOIN had two anchors in the studio but tossed to CBS News within minutes of breaking in. Fox affiliate KPTV, which also had the first helicopter shots available around 12:50 p.m., broke in with Anthony Congi in the studio for a short update before returning to regular programming.

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