Charlotte, N.C., news photographer Keith Conner may have been saved from serious injury or worse by his camera. The WCCB-TV cameraman was standing on a manhole cover shooting outside a courtroom where NFL player Rae Carruth had just been sentenced for his role in the conspiracy to kill his girlfriend. The cover flipped, says News Director Ken White, and Conner fell through. The photographer suffered some cuts and bruises, but had he not been holding his camera, which was too large to go through the hole, he might have fallen the full 30 feet to the bottom of the manhole. White says the station plans to do a safety-related story on manhole covers.
The station was covering the Carruth trial but Fox affiliate WCCB-TV had promised that it would not break into its afternoon block of kids programming if the verdict in the highly publicized murder trial came down at that time, and the station did not. Vice President and General Manager Mark Turner had said as the trial wrapped up that it would have been inappropriate to break in with news from the trial of a man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend when the bulk of viewers, the station believes, are 5- to 8-years-old. Shows include Power Rangers, Digimon Digital and The X-Men. "It's frustrating for a newsperson," says White, "but you have to respect who's watching."