WTAJ Live Truck Trashed in Penn State Riot
Paterno supporters direct anger at local media
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/10/2011 11:26:47 AM
WTAJ is the news leader in DMA No. 102. News Director David Kaplar says he doesn't think the station was singled out. "It was a question of convenience," he says. "We were parked on the street, and that's what they did."
Kaplar pulled WTAJ's crews out when it got violent. No employees were injured.
Rioters first pelted the van with rocks, then quickly assembled to tip it over and break the windows. "It's dead," Kaplar said of the vehicle, which had the station's call letters and the CBS logo on the side.
Paterno was let go by the Penn State board of trustees Wednesday night following a sex scandal involving a longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of molesting eight boys. Paterno alerted university officials after an incident involving Sandusky and a young boy was brought to his attention in 2002, but some feel he should've done more.
The New York Times wrote of last night's violence: Students pounded on the sides of upright news vans, and as officers herded them down the street they shouted, "Flip it over!" Some took off their shirts and tied them around their mouths for protection from the fog of pepper spray that left countless students hacking. A few wore ski goggles. Many climbed on the tops of parked cars, denting and sinking the roofs, to get a better view of the spectacle.
A video of the incident on WTAJ's wearecentralpa.com shows a delirious crowd erupting in jubilation after the van has toppled. Other videos on YouTube show people throwing rocks at the van prior to toppling it. Kaplar calls it the actions of "a few out of control kids."
It's been a rough couple of weeks for local TV reporters, with some in New York and Oakland, among other locales, feeling the brunt of protestor anger at the various Occupy Wall Street protests.
Many of the rioters in State College blame the media coverage for Paterno's downfall. Kaplar says an anti-media sentiment may have played a role in the van's demise, but says comments on the stations Facebook have come down in defense of the station. "Misdirected anger if I've ever seen it," commented Nancy Hayes.
"I was in Denver during Columbine, and they hated us," Kaplar says. "We haven't gotten to that point yet at Penn State...until last night."
Ken English - 11/12/2011 12:26:08 PM EST
The college should impose a fee on every student to cover the cost of repair or for a new truck until the few who did it come forward! I don't care if every student wasn't out there, that will put pressure on the ones who did to come forward and turn themselves in!
Matt Headley - 11/10/2011 7:15:55 PM EST
Marcus Aurelius - 11/10/2011 4:44:57 PM EST
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