The Spoils of War

Apr 14, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Technology used to cover the war in Iraq could be applied in daily news gathering on the home front.
Journalists in the Middle East have made do without satellite trucks, suggesting reliance on them could be reduced at home, said John Miller, news director for CBS owned-and-operated KTVT in Dallas. Using laptop editors and satellite phones more frequently for transmission could lower news-gathering costs, since satellite trucks cost upward of $1 million, he said.
“I’d be surprised if in five years I see a lot of satellite trucks around,” he said. “If we had the ability to edit on a laptop and go to a hotel or Starbucks with a fast Internet connection, that would be easier.”
CNN expects to use videophones and other war-tested technology for events back home, said Dick Tauber, VP of satellite and circuits for CNN, who spoke at the RTNDA@NAB conference. “When we had to tape and find a place to transmit we can now just transmit and get there and go live first,” he said.
Some local stations have found innovative ways to use technology to keep war coverage costs down. Nashville’s Landmark Communications-owned CBS affiliate WTVF-TV sent reporter Dana Kaye and the station’s chief photographer to cover the conflict. The team, now home, relied on a mini-camera, a laptop editing system and a satellite phone to send stories via e-mail, the station’s news director, Mike Cutler said. That solution necessitated a couple of hours to deliver a 90-second report, but it reduced the cost of coverage tremendously, bringing the total to about $10,000 to $20,000 over five weeks, Mr. Cutler said.
That investment may mean a little belt tightening later in the year. “We may not be going to as many away [Tennessee] Titans games,” he said.