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RANDY SHAW: Many Viewers Ticked About Fire Coverage

by mboyle

Posted on October 19, 2009 at 1:12 PM

The newsroom phones rumbled and rang all morning long as viewers called in to complain about "live" coverage of the huge three-alarm Joel building blaze.

Most wanted to see their local or national program on tv and not continuous "live" coverage of a fire that brought in all 17 Spokane fire companies.

The news department has a community obligation to alert people to a public danger and one that is also changing the traffic patterns of downtown Spokane. It must balance the public's right to know with a viewers expectation to see a regularly scheduled program.

But many thought the continuous coverage was overkill.

One viewer's protesting emal said:

"Are you working on the Guiness Book of Records in the category of stretching a 30 second report on a fire into multiple hours of redundance?"

Another said:

"As a long time viewer, I must admit I really get tired of you people going over and over and over on a story."

Our news department has a commitment to cover a dangerous situation full boar until the danger has passed. Even if that means covering up local television programming.
It's not an easy decision and usually costs the station money in lost commercial revenue.

How do you think "live" continuous coverage should be handled? Is the public's right to know more important than entertainment or does news perform over kill in covering such events!

Looking forward to hearing from you.