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Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

WCCO bus-attack probe drives hearings
As a result of an investigation by CBS-owned WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, the Minnesota State Senate held hearings earlier this month to inquire into WCCO’s I-Team findings that the city’s Metropolitan Transit bus service has had the highest number of assaults on bus drivers in the past five years.
Disputing a newspaper report that stated crime was down on city buses, WCCO found Minneapolis had more assaults on bus drivers than Miami or Boston and that the Metro Transit police were more apt to be washing their cars and handing out tickets than guarding city buses. Last month, after WCCO showed surveillance tape from one bus assault, police caught the assailant with the help of viewers.
“We got swamped by other bus drivers,” WCCO News Director Ted Canova said. “We have bus video of the assaults-four tapes the bus company didn’t want us to have. The No. 1 way of trying to catch someone is by putting someone on TV. But there are dozen of tapes just locked up in a cabinet that have never been broadcast.”
Murrow category focuses on Web sites
The Radio-Television News Directors Association’s Edward R. Murrow Awards will be recognizing the country’s top television station Web sites with a new category this year.
“This was a way for us to reach out to those people doing new media,” RTNDA President Barbara Cochran said. Thirteen regional winners were notified last week, including CBS-owned WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, for having the best Web site in their region. The award for top Web site in the country will be presented at the annual RTNDA convention.
Stations cut to the chase in Los Angeles
Although many Los Angeles police car chases seem to occur more often during the 10 p.m. news, one occurred March 13 during KABC-TV and rival KNBC-TV’s 4 p.m. newscasts. Since Paula Madison became general manager at KNBC-TV, the buzz in the market has been that she has an informal policy to lessen the coverage of live car chases and to focus more on community-oriented and in-depth pieces.
The chase ended right after the 5 p.m. news began. The driver surrendered in the Anaheim, Calif., Police Department parking lot. KABC saw a spike in ratings because it went to continuous coverage.
For the 4 p.m. hour, KABC averaged a 6.2 Nielsen Media Research rating and 16 share, which was higher than the first nine days in March, when the station averaged 5.6/14. At 4:30 p.m. KABC got a 7.5/19, and for the final 15 minutes of the newscast it spiked to an 8.4/22. For the 4 p.m. hour, KNBC cut into the chase but did not cover it continuously on the air. KNBC garnered a 2.9/8, which was lower than its average for the first nine days of March, when the figures were 3.9/9.
KABC General Manager Arnold Kleiner told Electronic Media his station covered the chase because it affected rush-hour traffic. “If we think it’s interesting and the viewers want to see it, we carry it,” Mr. Kleiner said. “We felt we were serving our viewers’ needs by carrying the chase on highways and surface streets.”
Ms. Madison, a news veteran, said: “When breaking news happens, we will make a determination on the merits of that particular story. This applies to fires, accidents, car chases, earthquakes and any other story that may directly affect the lives of Southern California residents. The depth, length and placement of coverage will be determined on how relevant we think the news is to our viewers.”
WFXT reporter suffers break-in
Police are investigating a break-in at the apartment of investigative reporter Deborah Sherman of Fox-owned WFXT-TV, Boston.
According to the Boston Herald, her apartment was burglarized last month and three of her car’s four tires were spiked. Two weeks ago, there was another attempted break-in at her apartment. Police believe the motive for the break-ins was retaliation for her undercover pieces. The WFXT investigative team has blown the whistle on illegal gambling and found Boston police officers who sleep on the job. “I’ve been threatened before,” Ms. Sherman said in the Herald. “It’s part of the job, but I’ve never had anybody take it this far.”
Karissa S. Wang can be reached by phone at 323-370-2430, via e-mail at kwang@crain.com or by fax at 323-653-4425.