Cable news services drop crisis pact - Broadcasting & Cable

Cable news services drop crisis pact

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Cable news operations abandoned their temporary news sharing alliance at midnight Tuesday, and cable news executives say its unlikely they will renew the agreement, barring another catastrophe.

"It was a national emergency situation," said MSNBC chief Erik Sorenson. "Now we need to get back to normal competition."

CNN's head of newsgathering Eason Jordan said the sharing was unprecedented, "Given the scope and the horrifying nature of what happened, we decided to set aside competition."

The nets may continue some pooling, perhaps on news conferences. "It should be considered on a case-by-case basis," said CNBC's EVP of business news Bruno Cohen. "There's point to double, triple or quadruple coverage when resources are scarce."

After the first day, programmers and talent are shifting gears, trying to prepare for what they believe will be a long-running story. Reporters and anchors are regrouping from the emotional and physical drain of day one.

CNN's staffers worked on 12-hour shifts, while MSNBC's Sorenson said he had to push staff out the door Monday night to go home and rest. "I need them fresh on day 11 and day 15." Fox News moved quickly to assemble crews, dispatch reporters, and schedule talent and staff on new shifts.

"Oklahoma City and Columbine have helped us prepare," said Fox News' executive producer Bill Shine. "The story will take us there from now on."

Networks are jockeying for "exclusive" amateur video, most of which they say comes to them unsolicited. MSNBC has bought between five and ten pieces of amateur footage, and also instructed its staffers to take pictures with personal cameras. One Dateline producer racing downtown Monday morning bought a camera of a tourist.

CNN's Jordan said one of the most compelling acquired footage was purchased from a tourist on a boat to the Statue of Liberty who filmed the second plane flying into the tower. Jordan declined to comment on precise fees for video, but said CNN paid "thousands" for footage.
- Allison Romano

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