Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On Water And Air

This has been a hard week for travel; the horrible tragedy of the I-35W bridge collapse between Minneapolis and St. Paul and the Phoenix and Dallas news chopper crashes.

The folks at RTNDA (the Radio Television News Directors Association) have been in pretty heavy discussion since the crashes of two TV news helicopters in Phoenix last week that killed four, followed by this week's downing of a news chopper in Texas that injured three. Is it really in the public interest to put life and limb in jeopardy for photos and video of the latest police chase?

Then those amazing, troubling, awful images from the Twin Cities as concrete and steel crashed into the Mississippi River, burying cars and trucks in the mud and water below. As of this writing the death toll was seven, with dozens still among the missing. I pray those families waiting for word from still-unheard from loved ones get the call that it's OK, and not the call they dread.

But for the purposes of this blog, I'd like to address those critics of the helicopter coverage and just what's "worthwhile" news coverage. As I write this, virtually every cable news network has continued live coverage; we've even included live video streams as well as extensive video reports here on AkronNewsNow. That coverage brings home what all of us think as we cross Akron's High Level and Y Bridges; could it happen here? Without those stark photos our friends in the newspaper world have on their front pages this morning (well, most of the newspapers) or the video you see online and on television, the scope and breadth of the tragedy may not be so evident.

As a news consumer, I want as much information as possible; as a newscaster and editor, it is our job to present the most timely and accurate story as we can. Those images captured by the brave men and women circling overhead the Mississippi capture the story in a way words simply cannot describe with any justice. Indeed, many of those images may very well help investigators determine just why the arches on a 40-year old bridge collapsed during rush hour on a warm Minnesota summer afternoon.

This is the legacy of those lost in Phoenix; this is why those injured in Dallas went where most of us wouldn't go. Seeing the story from the air is a necesssary part of telling the story in this day and age when we have the resources to report the news as never before.

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