The first full day of G-20 action is underway in Pittsburgh, as leaders from 20 nations, including Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and our own President Obama, convene at the David L. Lawrence convention center.
Yesterday was more about the leaders’ arrivals; stations broke in to cover the Obamas touching down a little after 3 p.m., covering it live either on air or on the Web. Yesterday was also about protestors–thousands of them massed to protest everything from carbon emissions to the banking industry to federal bailouts.
The clashes were relatively light, especially compared to what happened in Seattle in 1999. “It’s not anything that would’ve been out of the ordinary,” WPXI General Manager Ray Carter said last night. “The riot police did a pretty good job of dispersing them. There was a little bit of damage and a few arrests, but it wasn’t horrific.”
Cox (WPXI), CBS (KDKA), Hearst (WTAE) and Sinclair (WPGH, WPMY) own the big stations in the #23 DMA, where it’s a very close race between the first three. The stations mostly cut to live coverage a little after 3 p.m. yesterday, then went back to the networks for the evening news at 6:30.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was somewhat critical of the local TV coverage. The paper said the stations did an adequate job, but missed some bg local stories
WTAE offered a “special report” at 7 p.m. but missed an opportunity. The station ignored police-protester clashes happening at that hour in Oakland in favor of canned reports from earlier in the day. Similarly, a KDKA report at 7:30 p.m. never reported on events in Oakland. Even if stations couldn’t get their live trucks there, it seems that if they were on the air live, they should have had personnel reporting from Oakland by phone.
While G-20 is of course a global news story, it’s a huge local story for Pittsburgh residents, with colossal traffic tie-ups, road and river closures, some local businesses doing booming commerce, and some sustaining damage at the hands of protestors.
Carter says it’s a good time for the eyes of the world to be looking at Pittsburgh. “It’s certainly nice for Pittsburgh and its resurgent economy,” he says. “It’s always nice to get the networks and the national magazines and periodicals here.”