Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Media Circus

Forgive us for treating it like, well, the elephant in the middle of the room...but we have yet to comment on the Northeast Ohio Media Circus.

That is, the fact that much of the national media has descended upon Canton and nearby areas concerning the disappearance of a certain pregnant mother, 26 year-old Jessie Marie Davis, from her home in North Canton.

A virtual media village has set up at the Stark County Sheriff's Department, and national network and cable news reporters have made the area their second home. Among the first to make the trek to Ohio - FOX News Channel's Greta van Susteren and her "On The Record" show, flanked by at least two other FNC reporters.

And local TV and radio news operations are intensely involved as well.

On Wednesday evening's "Channel 3 News at 6", Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC/3 featured anchor Tim White on-scene in Canton at what we guess could be "Camp Jessie" - the parking lot of the sheriff's department.

With White joined by reporter Chris Tye and Akron/Canton bureau chief-news anchor Eric Mansfield, the "multiple coverage" reminds us of the massive "team coverage" over the Cleveland Cavaliers' recent NBA Finals series.

Speaking of which, ABC affiliate WEWS/5 was not to be left out, with "NewsChannel 5" investigative reporter Duane Pohlman breathlessly describing a search of the home of Davis' boyfriend, a Canton police officer, with "NewsChopper 5" providing pictures overhead. A similar scene played out over at CBS affiliate WOIO/19's "19 Action News" Wednesday afternoon.

Teams have also fanned out from northern Stark County and Canton, over to Wooster and up to Hudson to cover various aspects of this story.

And with the FNC folks here, FOX O&O (for now) WJW/8 "FOX 8" has had use of their footage to supplement local reporting. We saw Ms. van Susteren's tour of Ms. Davis' home on "FOX 8 News" Wednesday evening.

Local TV and radio reporters are busy serving non-local viewers and listeners as well.

We're sure just about all of 'em are doing live shots for their various sister network affiliates around the country. Those are the same live shots you've seen reporters do in other cities for local stations of the same network or owner.

News-oriented stations like Canton's WHBC/1480 and Akron's WAKR/1590 have been covering the ongoing series of events with vigor, and WHBC's microphone flag has been visible in just about every live press conference video we've seen.

We haven't had the ability to listen to WHBC's local talk shows since this started, but we'll assume that they're delving into the first big Canton news story since they changed format to talk.

And as you might expect, WAKR/Rubber City Radio's AkronNewsNow website is all over the story, with an extensive special section with news stories, audio, video and even a blog from the station's news staffers covering the events.

The story is even pressing non-newsies into service as reporters, and not just on FM radio morning shows.

As we flipped by CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck show Wednesday evening, we saw Beck tossing to someone from "our radio affiliate", Clear Channel Akron talker WHLO/640, and "reporter" Keith Kennedy on the phone.

That's right, the cluster's programming operations director and hot AC WKDD/98.1 afternoon driver was doing a news "voicer" report for the host who airs - on the radio side - weekdays on WHLO at 9 AM.

(For the OMW readers at Freedom Avenue, feel free to jokingly call him "Scoop" today.)

Beck did misidentify the station as "NewsTalk 540" twice, though the graphics were correct. (We're guessing he had affiliate WFLF/540 Orlando FL on his mind.)

Though WHLO itself dispatches no field reporters from its studios - morning anchor Tom Duresky is busy anchoring for WHLO and WKDD - the station has the services of excellent WTAM/1100 "lead team reporter" Greg Saber, who can drop into the studios after covering events.

And it's not that far of a drive.

WHLO and its Freedom Avenue sisters are actually occupying the closest broadcast media facility of any type to the home of Ms. Davis. A quick Google Maps search shows us that it's just a two-and-a-half mile drive from the home to the Clear Channel World Domination HQ/Southern Command.

And one of the most unlikely TV and radio voices is all over the place in broadcast media coverage.

The Canton Repository's Todd Porter nabbed the first interview with the aforementioned Canton police officer who's the boyfriend of the missing woman. The audio was heard on TV and radio all over Northeast Ohio - and the world - for the better part of the Wednesday, thanks to the Repository's posting of it on the website.

The Akron Beacon Journal's Bob Dyer, a former media writer for the paper himself, delves into the national media takeover of Stark County in an article in today's Beacon.

Anyway, media circus aside, particularly, we express our fondest hope that Ms. Davis and her child are found safe and sound...


Anonymous said...

Beacon Journal's Bob Dyer hits it SO right on the head with this blast at the media this morning:

Anonymous said...

I love it that Glenn cannot even get his own affiliate right.

Anonymous said...

This will last till something even more gruesome comes along and the vultures will depart post haste without even a look at what's behind them in their rear view mirrors.

Anonymous said...

I only wish the local TV outlets would cover EVERY story with this kind of intensity. Not necessarily the manpower, but the passion to captivate the viewers with upfront portrayal of this human drama.

Anonymous said...

Saw Toni Ciconne from WAKR on Greta the other night.

We've got a new newsbabe in Akron!

Anonymous said...

People go missing all the time and yet you don't see the media frenzy unless it's a pretty girl. Local and national news won't pay attention to a story unless they know it will attract an audience. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the business. I'm glad there are other things to watch besides the news. News outlets are certainly not the same as many, many years ago. Now, when people really want the most up-to-the-minute news they can turn to the internet. Television, for many of the younger generation, is all about entertainment, not news.

Anonymous said...

I left NE Ohio a few years ago. The person I would love to hear right now is the man who is by far the master of local talk issues...Howie Chizek on WNIR. Not that I always agreed with his politics, the man is a genious with local topics. He'd be the person I'd be listening to for great local talk right now. WNIR news coverage...OK maybe not. But Howie was great with this stuff.

Anonymous said...

You only hope this can be resolved soon enough. The last thing North Canton needs (or the country, for that matter) is another Natalee Holloway episode, and have all the news channels decamped here literally forever.

The aformented Greta footage from inside the home aired on Fox News' "On The Record" just ten minutes before WJW aired it on their newscast, rightfully billed as an "exclusive" in the local sense. Greta was also interviewed by Bill Martin and Stacey Bell on the 5PM newscast earlier that day.

Even though Fox News has their own reporter assigned to the story (Jeff Goldblatt), this is the closest - ever - that WJW and Fox News Channel have ever worked together on covering a story, given that WJW is a Fox O&O for the immediant future (and possibly beyond?).

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

By the way, a personal aside...

** Soapbox ON... **

I had been a part of the funeral a few weeks ago for the fallen Cleveland Heights police officer in Avon (where he was born and grew up at). It was terribly surreal to see all of the ENG trucks all parked in succession, plus the news choppers and cameraman all following the procession.

I didn't need to see the coverage. Because I was there. And it was an honorable sendoff, and the news channels covered the events and the various vigils all fairly - even Action 19.

So, my point is that such a powerful story can be covered with a sense of respect and decorum, or with the squacking sound of vultures decending upon a corpse. It's a fine line to tread, and I hope it isn't ignored.

** Soapbox OFF! **

- Nathan Obral

Anonymous said...

This is a local crime story. As such, it belongs all over the local media. But outside the immediate area, this local crime story is being milked in the shamefully cynical manner one has come to expect from cable "news" and other mass media. This is local TV news writ large: if it bleeds, it leads. Where's my Head On?

Today's New York Times reports the story for the first time in that paper, gives it 24 column inches (including two photos — one of missing woman, another of missing woman's mom and child) on page A16, and manages to say everything that really needs to be said about the case. The rest is noise.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Channel 5 for a half hour prime time special on this with no new info. Child psychiatrists talking about the 2 years old. Wayyyy over the top. Covering it in newscasts is one thing, prime time specials is insulting and the reason people hate the media

Anonymous said...

Are you kiddin me? WNIR? Honestly?

I listen to WNIR almost exclusively, but not for coverage of hard hitting topics.

-Does Stan even knows there is a woman missing?
-Howie makes fun of the story and clearly has read only one article from beacon and lost interest after that.
-Golic is completely uneducated on the facts of the case
-Erickson is well, Erickson.

Phil reported that a body had been found on Wednesday after a caller said it. HE THEN RAN IT IN A NEWSCAST!

Serisouly, I do listen to WNIR, not for information, but entertainment. I enjoy the train wreck. Bad radio is waaaayyy more entertaining that good radio.

Anonymous said...

WNIR is a great station you are just jealous you do not work there.

Anonymous said...

WNIR love 'em or hate 'em yield the top ratings in Akron and out revenues the other stations. The train wreck is sure sucessful and profitable. Can't say the same for WKDD, WHLO or WARF.

Anonymous said...

I agree WNIR out revenues the stations in the Akron market. I know that I've visited a restaurant in Akron a few times because Howie Chizek mentioned it so many times on his show.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying WKDD WARF and WHLO aren't profitable?


You really mean that?

Are you on Drugs?

Anonymous said...

Why do you site WKDD as a train wreck? Would you care to site some examples or explain why you think so? Clearly the previous poster explained why he/she thought WNIR was a train wreck. You simply state all the Clear Channel stations are. Your post ounds like another case of sour grapes to me.

Anonymous said...

Jessie Davis was found dead today near the Portage Lakes. Let's all say a prayer for her family and she and her unborn child.