Multiple platforms mean great journalism on crash

Like many, I’ve been following coverage of the crash of Flight 3407. And like many, I have a special interest — I live an hour from Buffalo, I lived five minutes from the crash site until six months ago, and I know many people in the Buffalo region.

To say I have been impressed with the coverage done by Buffalo journalists would be an understatement. It’s Sunday at 1:40 and the manifest with the names of those aboard Flight 3407 has yet to be released by the airline or the authorities. The Buffalo News, however, has been updating its list of victims since Friday. The list is simply a list of names now because The News has done short vignettes on the victims it knows about. But on Friday, that list inc luded a sentence or two about each victim and was updated throughout the day and night. It was powerful, personal and, it goes without saying, great reporting.

Editor & Publisher noted that “CNN cited updates from the News online reports, starting two hours after the crash.”

How did the News gather all of the information for its stories? Editor Margaret Sullivan told E & P that 50 to 75 people were working the story Friday. Some of those people came about there information the old-fashioned way:  talking to people face to face or working the phones. At least one reporter, Stephen Watson, turned to social media like Facebook and Twitter, where he issued a polite, sensitive request for any information about the victims or family of victims.

The News also did a terrific job with multimedia, putting up photos, videos, audio and slideshows of the people and the crash.

The News was not alone in its stellar coverage of this tragedy. WGRZ-TV Channel 2 in Buffalo, a Gannett company, also did superior work. The channel streamed its broadcast live Friday so those unable to get the Buffalo coverage on their TVs could see and hear what was going on. When I was watching it Friday afternoon, some 5,000 people were watching the streamed broadcast along with me. Amazing. The anchors, Jodi Johnston and Pete Gallivan, spoke directly to the web audience during commercial breaks, often reading comments that were posted online and talking about them.

I cannot close this praise of the work of Buffalo journalists without mentioning WIVB-TV‘s Lisa Flynn‘s insightful, probing questions. She asked at least five questions, all of them wonderful, at yesterday’s press conference with the National Transportation Safety Board, which was aired live here in Rochester, NY.

While I praise these journalists for all their fine work on this tragedy, I’m sure they, like us, would rather they had not had to cover this at all.


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