Monday, March 16, 2015

Caldecott Tunnel Fire Dominates Morning 415 Media: Where Were the TV Live Shots?; KTVU's Castaneda Saves The Day; KCBS Radio Sends Schaub To The Scene

 This (Monday) morning's fire in the Caldecott Tunnel (caused by an auto accident) brought back chilling memories of 1982's horrific blaze in the tunnel--also caused by a car accident and ensuing tanker blaze-- that killed seven motorists.

Overhead shots by KGO and KTVU choppers this morning were vivid and disturbing, early on. People could be seen leaving their car and walking outside the Oakland side of the tunnel.

My question: where were the live shots? Not one local TV station sent a reporter to the scene. (At press time) Amazing. Fortunately, KTVU's steady traffic anchor, Sal Castaneda, became the eyes and ears of the ongoing story providing viewers his phone conversations with the CHP. It would have been nice for 2 to send a reporter to the scene --after all, KTVU is but a few miles away in Jack London Square in Oakland and the story deserved a live shot. Information was scarce.

To its credit, KCBS Radio sent Jeffrey Schaub to the scene and got an eyewitness account shortly after the 8 AM news open and Kim Wonderley reported on the traffic conditions which soon became the focal point of the story as no one was hurt inside the tunnel and the fire was eventually extinguished.

Schaub went so far as to go inside the tunnel at 8: 30 and described the scene soon after. Good deed.

Given the sometimes extraordinary pace and frenzy of a Monday morning commute and news, it can be a challenge for assignment editors to get a crew to the scene of a story--but this story deserved more prominence. Later on it became the top news story of the morning as it should have been.

Better late then never.

KRON relied on its studio anchors and overhead shots (courtesy KGO)--KNTV (NBC Bay Area) and KPIX pretty much stuck with network programming and local updates.

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  1. Sign of the times. As those in the corner offices strip newsroom staff to fatten their bonuses, more and more outlets are handcuffed when there is breaking news. A morning show has one or two reporters. It can be tough to pull a crew across the Bay Area for a hit or two. That's why they fly the chopper and plead for you to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Lazy journalism in a new age. And they'll pat themselves on the back for a job well done afterward. It's thankless for the people doing all the real work, getting paid pennies on the dollar.

  2. It's only considered breaking news for KNTV if something happens in the South Bay. Most of the time the shit KNTV reports isn't really breaking news at all.

  3. I wouldn't expect the desk to remember 1982. Those people were fired long ago.

  4. I dread the day when the next big one hits. No live cameras or reporters from catastrophe areas? Instead I'll have to look for #'s on Twitter? Wtf

  5. Only if KRON had kept Erica Kato!!

  6. As usual Sal Casteneda is very, very good. I hope FOX gives him a raise.

  7. Thank-G'd for the CHP Motor Cop first on scene, noted a fire starting and got everyone out with no injuries.