As yet another mass shooting tragedy occurred Friday
morning, this time at an Eastern Connecticut Elementary School,
broadcast nets including CBS and NBC teamed up with their local O&Os.
Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Conn., a gunman opened fire, killing over two dozen
people, many of whom were children. The shooting is the second-deadliest school
shooting in U.S. history. Only the 2007 shooting
at Virginia Tech University had more casualties.
"We're all sharing," said David Friend, news
director of WCBS and WLNY, and senior VP of news for the CBS station group.
Friend said WCBS lent their reporters that were on the scene
in Newtown to CBS News' national coverage, along with their news
chopper and any video they had. CBS News has shared their resources as well, he
said. "We've had their correspondents on and we're all newsgathering and
Newtown, Conn., is part of the New York City DMA.
Friend said that the CBS-owned stations
in Philadelphia and Boston helped out as well, sending
their own correspondents to contribute. "Being part of the CBS O&O
group means that we all share resources and we all contribute to the coverage
of the story."
NBC-owned stations also teamed with each other to help cover
the tragedy. A spokesperson for WVIT Hartford said that KNTV and KNBC in California and
WCAU in Philadelphia "instantly volunteered support and sent
crews and resources to assist." WNBC in New York provided
visuals from its news chopper. NBC News and MSNBC also leveraged WVIT as
reporters from the Connecticut station contributed to both networks'
In a fast-developing story like this, Friend said the most
important thing is accuracy. "In a situation like this that's breaking
[and] developing, there are many different sources reporting many different bits
of information." He says he doesn't want false information adding to the
agony of the situation. "There are many lives being affected by what we
tell and what we report."
He said he would consider looking at how other stations
around the country have covered similar events, including the movie theater
shooting in Colorado in July. But that would be for a later time.
"Right now it's [about] getting to the scene and reporting the information
as accurately and reliably as we can."
Covering a story that has such an emotional slant to it
provides its own set of challenges, including the ability to remain objective
at a time when it's nearly impossible. "We are part of our
community," says Friend. "We want to report as accurately and as
dispassionately as we can, but you can't help but let your human emotions creep
into a story like this.
"Our hearts are breaking along with the people in our