Saturday, February 10, 2007


Barack Obama's announcement of his presidential candidacy this morning in Springfield was broadcast live by all the cable news giants.

But it wasn't big enough news for most of the local stations in Obama's hometown.

NBC (Channel 5) sent the talented Carol Marin and Mary Ann Ahern to Springfield for the event. CLTV had live coverage as well. CBS (Channel 2), WGN (Channel 9), Fox (32) and ABC (Channel 7) all stayed on Saturday morning cartoons or paid programming.


Did they break into regular programming for Anna Nicole Smith's death?

I can offer only an iota of insight. I spent four months last year interning at Channel 2 -- which gave the airtime to the cartoon "Trollz" instead of Obama -- so my educated guess is this:


While I was there, the station fired all its per diem employees, and even the most senior reporters had to fight and threaten and compromise just to get a camera crew. Shoots were cut short so that the station wouldn't have to pay its camera crew overtime.

Interestingly, Channel 2 did stream live video of Obama's speech on their Web site. So if the Internet is the cheapest /easiest way to cover live events, what kind of a role is left for TV broadcast news?

I'm so disappointed.



At Saturday, February 10, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I don't think I would have gone live from his conference---simply because the event was not so extraordinarily breaking that it deserved that kind of attentio. Don't get me wrong---It's an amazing and very historic event, but lots of people expected it to happen and I think I might have broadcast an update news strip across the screen and featured it in the A block for the afternoon and evening news.

At Saturday, February 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ER - Agreed. In fact, I felt that NBC's coverage was a little too congratulatory of Obama in the first place... Did any other local TV stations go live with their candidates' announcements? Clinton, Biden, Vilsack??? I'm thinking probably not.

Obama is popular, and the media loves him. But, more importantly, he's a politician. I think there's maybe even a greater ethical issue of giving Obama too much coverage - (even though he's the hometown hero) - it's like free advertising for his campaign.

At Monday, February 12, 2007, Anonymous TB said...

But it is hometown news, and I have to say I'm with VLD on this one.

I agree, we need to be careful not to give Obama too much attention over the other candidates, but isn't his presidential candidacy at least as newsworthy as Smith's mysterious death?

As for LT's question about other candidates getting hometown attention, I was just in upstate NY for the weekend and was really surprised by how much people are talking about Hilary Clinton. So my guess, is yes, they probably did give her coverage.

We need to remember that "Obama-rama" as we call it is probably a little crazier in our little mid-western bubble than in other parts of the country.


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