January 5th, 2010 at 04:59am
Two federal agents have been shot and are being reported as dead in some places in Las Vegas, but you wouldn’t know it if you were listening to the last set of US national radio news bulletins. It’s bizarre, but it almost seems as if the national news outlets didn’t bother to call their local affiliates for information.
Here’s the basic rundown of events as I noticed it (note that all times are in Las Vegas local time/Canberra local time format)
Approximately 8:10am/3:10am: Shooting occurs
A few moments later: Newsradio 840 KXNT takes a call live-to-air from a witness. Sirens are audible in the background.
8:18am/3:18am: KXNT traffic runs a brief report on the area being locked down by police
Approximately 8:20am/3:20am: Around this time I went and checked other news outlets. The Las Vegas Review Journal had a brief “breaking story” blurb on their website, KDWN 720 had nothing on their website, TV Channel 13 (local ABC affiliate) had a brief story with flashy graphics (OK, a screengrab of their “breaking news” graphic…but still). National news outlets FOX, CBS and ABC had nothing on their websites.
Approximately 8:23/3:23: KXNT news runs a story including an update from the local police spokesperson advising that two federal agents have been shot, one offender has been shot and another may be on the loose.
Approximately 8:40/3:40: The Associated Press releases a very short story advising of a shooting which looks like a cut and paste from a government press release. National outlets FOX and ABC put it on their websites with no further details. KDWN have the story on their website.
8:49/3:49: KXNT runs an out-of-cycle “breaking news” report from Metro Police that the two federal officers are dead. Also note that the area has been completely locked down while police search for a second shooter.
9:00/4:00: Top of hour national radio bulletins run with the “condition unknown” AP report. FOX update their story with a line about the lockdown. CNN don’t have a story as such, but rather a headline which links off to the Vegas FOX TV station’s news story which seems fairly comprehensive.
At some stage a little bit after 9:10/4:10: CBS add the story to their website, merging AP information with KXNT information.
9:20/4:20: KXNT run another out-of-cycle “breaking news” update with some further information and a failed cross to their reporter at the scene (the phone line dropped out).
By 9:30/4:30: NBC get the story on their site, with minor additions to the AP story. ABC bump the story to top billing (which it should have had everywhere for a lot longer than this) including an aerial photo, presumably from the local ABC affiliate Channel 13.
9:30/4:30: KXNT run another out-of-cycle update (I shudder to think how many ads they’ve dropped) with a cross to the reporter on the scene relaying information from police at the scene that Metro Police’s previous release about the federal agents being dead is possibly wrong, plus a description of the scene.
9:45/4:45: National networks seem to be close to catching up with the local outlets, with the notable exception of NBC which continues to run the ancient AP story. CNN actually have an article now.
9:50/4:50: I haven’t had a chance to check the other locals again, but KXNT are running yet another out-of-cycle update pushing the locals way ahead of the nationals again with further updates about the situation.
9:55/4:55: Las Vegas Review Journal run independent confirmation that at least one federal agent has died.
Update: 11:10/6:10: Well this is absurd. I can not find a single Australian media outlet that is aware of this shooting. AAP have not mentioned it yet, and nobody in Australia seems to have noticed. This is the top story in all US media right now, and not a peep down under, nor in Britain’s BBC…perhaps the news is coming by boat. End Update
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not surprised by the fact that local stations which have people on the ground are ahead of the New York based networks. What I’m surprised by is just how far ahead the local stations are, and how long it took the nationals to even notice what is probably going to be the top story for the rest of the day. Each and every one of the national networks has a local affiliate with a newsroom to borrow material from, and with the exception of CBS they seem to be failing to capitalise on these resources. If any of these networks used their local resources properly, they would blitz the competition completely.
All of this just goes to show that news travels just as slowly in the US as it does in Australia. If it doesn’t happen near a major news centre, then you will be waiting a long time for details. Is it any wonder that people are relying on the Internet for news over and above the big news organisations?