Thursday, July 11, 2013

Where was KGO-TV When The SFO Crash Happened?


FROM TV SPY and an Insider at KGO-TV

Big unanswered question: why didn't news director Tracy Watkowski order the news folks who were working to go on the air immediately?  Or was she too absorbed in the riveting Channel 2 coverage to react. Hard times at what used to be a great news operation?

 In a press release trumpeting KTVU‘s coverage of the Asiana Airlines crash, the San Francisco Fox affiliate is calling out ABC owned KGO for being slow to the story.

In the release, KTVU noted they were first on the air and first with a reporter from the scene. The station also noted that KTVU’s aerial coverage was used by ABC News in its national report, since KGO’s chopper was not yet in the air by the time David Muir‘s special report began:

KTVU’s coverage was even picked up by the ABC National News – instead of their own affiliate (KGO).  The ABC National News repeatedly used aerial footage from KTVU NewsChopper 2 during their 30 minute Special Report.  KGO didn’t hit the air with local coverage until 1:11pm – 58 minutes later than KTVU.

ABC News, CBS News and Fox are members of Network News Service, a partnership that allows all three networks to pool coverage from their local affiliates. KTVU’s live pictures were fed to ABC News through NNS.

Related, TVNewser: ABC News and SF Fox Affiliate In Flap Over Plane Crash Coverage
In contrast to the local coverage, ABC’s national coverage was the most extensive of the broadcast networks. Muir anchored an 45-minute special report that preempted the network’s coverage of Wimbledon, while NBC and CBS offered only brief updates.

KGO news director Tracey Watkowski did not immediately respond to TVSpy’s request for comment.

And here's a reply from an insider at Ch. 7

We couldn't go on the air because we didn't have a director. We have cut back so much we  couldn't function when we needed to most. And then once we did...we didn't know when to say "when"!

It's unfortunate. We have great people who were here ready to go.

Unless the Guild contract has changed it has always been:
“if in an emergency and there is NO Director available, anyone can direct”

I am laughing my ass off to see the stupidity of Management that doesn’t know or has read the contract, let alone wait for a Director to show up on a Breaking Story over the weekend!

Sorry, we can’t bring this Breaking Story to you. It’s the Weekend and our Director’s aren’t here or available”

Please use your remote to see the Story on all the other stations!


  1. Oh God, Rich, you have no idea how much this revelation cheered me. I hope Tracey W gets her ass booted to the curb over this. She sucked before, she surely sucks now (I'm not there anymore but how much can someone change in a few years) and the whole coup was political and had nothing to do with merit. And this is the sort of thing that happens when you do things based on politics and not merit. Love it!

    Hope Tracey reads your blog. And if she doesn't, I'm tempted to print that post and send it to her, certified mail.

    1. Here's Tracey W's TO DO list for the ratings disaster and poor morale:

      ( FYI, I know for a fact she reads this!)

      *Blame the Unions. ( what else is new )

      *Try to run a series of cheap quick promos as the "breaking news" station. Won't work. That's a stunt made famous at KPIX in the 1980's. KGO made its living by being the best without bragging. Now with an incompetent power hungry mess of a boss, those days are over.

      *She'll start blaming middle managers, E-P's etc. Fire them and hire people who can't replace her. Another old CBS trick. Goldberger is a DOA.

      *Start blaming "older" expensive talent. Lee, Heather, LeAnn, Friedman, Spencer all now targets.

      *When the budget improves and those heads roll.... she'll be safe for awhile... probably till March.

      *Next summer, ABC will wake-up and transfer her to something like "internet development" back East.

      Tracey W and managers like her represent the worst broadcasting has to offer. Yes, politically savvy, but technically incompetent. No new ideas, no leadership, and always out for #1. She'll be an asterisk in the history of KGO. In master control they'll be singing bang, bang, the witch is dead.(they do now )

      Sadly, the ABC O&O's were dynamic, FUN, high paying properties dominating the business. Bosses like Russ C in the 1970's took chances, made bold decisions and hires. But just like the old Tiffany days of CBS.... CBS got lazy, and now its ABC'S turn. I defy anyone to tell me this isn't spot on.

  2. Don't forget the other issue beside cutbacks.. everything is so automated now that the directors are not only calling the shots and framing the cameras... they pushing the buttons... sad fall from Loma Prieta coverage in 89....

  3. Shit just got real.

  4. This whole thing is an absolute joke! It's all about the bottom line with every media outlet these days. Damn the quality. Save the buck. This worship your MS-Excel spreadsheet mentality applies to all businesses these days. There are plenty of tech companies who privately brag about their cash reserves so they can buy other companies. Yet if there isn't enough in reserve, people get laid off. This world is all about ME. It's getting worse and worse. Quality of everything is going to hell. The goal is to do it cheaply, damn the consequences.

    1. Remember all those "management" books from the 80s and 90s that were supposed to "revolutionize" business school? Well, they did, and this is the result. Old school thinking, which had kept the U.S. ahead for 50 years, was pushed aside in favor of the M&A, hustle-hustle-hustle, shareholders-are-all-that-matter mentality. Here's the result. America won't be dominating the 21st century, that's for sure. But a small handful of people (they're called the "one percent" but they're actually closer to one tenth of one percent) will be very very rich, just like in Third-World countries with billionaires living in compounds with armed guards in towers overlooking their properties.

  5. You want Bad Radio try the Armstrong and Getty After show Talk 650 KSTE Sacramento.

  6. To be fair, once they got on the air the coverage was first-rate.

  7. You have to know one thing about KGO TV, they are automated with the Ignite system. It's not the directors fault if management doesn't have coverage all the time. This automated system is not for the faint of heart, you must be trained for a good amount of time to be able to operate it. Oh, one other thing KGO TV is not an affiliate rather it's an O and O owned and operated by ABC and we know that Disney owns ABC.

  8. Breaking news on the weekend is a challenge for every TV station with a news department and every cable and broadcast news network.
    In a hospital, you're more likely to die if admitted on a weekend, as well. Businesses don't normally have a full staff on the weekend and those that are working are not normally the "A" team. News gathering organizations are no different.

    I think it's tacky and tasteless that KTVU released such a press release. They should be ashamed of themselves to seek to profit off of such a terrible tragedy. It tarnishes what should otherwise be a proud moment for them.

    It is very sad, in general, that the impetus in news is to get to air first, sometimes at the expense of accuracy. Who cares if they got on-air at whatever time and the nearest competitor was however many minutes later. So, what? We shouldn't ever watch anything on any other channel because they break in to programming faster? Really, what is the point? It doesn't matter how fast you got it to air or the web if I wasn't watching your channel or visiting your website at the time. With what passes for "breaking news" these days, I'm not about to follow you on Twitter for the 1 in 100 items listed as "breaking news" that I actually care about. You want to promote your newscasts, that's one thing. Boasting about all of the places you were first and repeatedly rubbing your competitor's face in the crap pile is just tacky, especially when people died.

    KTVU must have the same PR department as Rail World.

  9. Check this out

  10. Further...this from KTVU:
    See the graphic of the pilots name, then hear the broadcast. Big time egg on face.