The evening news broadcasts scrambled to get anchors and correspondents to Haiti on Wednesday. But the earth-quake ravaged region presented a host of technical and logistical obstacles for news crews.
With the airport at Port-au-Prince effectively shut down save for relief flights, most news personnel had to drive over the border from the Dominican Republic. Once there, anchors struggled to establish reliable satellite phone connections.
Speaking on the phone to Lester Holt, who was at the NBC Nightly News anchor desk in New York, Brian Williams noted “satellite bandwidth is a problem,” adding that his crew had to come stocked with gasoline for generators.
Katie Couric appeared at the top of the CBS Evening News. But before she could finish saying ”good evening,” her connection was lost. Harry Smith, who was filling in for Couric at the anchor desk, stated the obvious: “Communication is dicey at best.” Couric did appear in the final minutes of the broadcast to tell viewers about a woman whose daughter was believed to be in the rubble of the Bank of American building behind her.
All of the networks planned to extend their broadcasts to an hour from a half-hour. And ABC and NBC managed to pull it off. But the communications problems forced CBS to end its broadcast after a half-hour.