A day after the Pulse Nightclub shooting sent Orlando TV reeling, the newsroom at Fox O&O WOFL moved toward a slightly more normal weekday pace Monday.
Jeff Zeller, the station’s VP of news, said that while Sunday’s rampant coverage of the massacre focused on continually unfolding developments, crews Monday reported on the investigation into the crime, developing details about the shooter, and the devastating effect of the event on the community.
Officials released the names of the 49 victims killed in the incident.
The station started its programming with its regular Good Morning Orlando from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. before taking a break from the story for a couple of hours. At noon, WOFL preempted The Real with a special one-hour newscast. Afternoon news will begin at 4 p.m., rather than its usual 5 p.m. start.
Even with the additional hours, Monday was relatively calm compared to the tumult of Sunday, when the station covered the massacre – the worst mass shooting in American history – wall-to-wall from 6 a.m. to 11:40 p.m.
“As soon as we heard about (the shooting), it was something that quickly got bigger and bigger,” Zeller said. “Once we started we were going to stay on.”
Although Zeller had to rally teams to cover the shooting, which occurred at 2 a.m., the logistics of doing so fell into place once crews were on-site, he said. The club’s downtown Orlando location, and the availability of mobile transmission units, made filming and sending back reports relatively simple, he said.
The two-hour trip to the shooter’s home in Port St. Lucie was the furthest anyone traveled, he said.
Which by no means deflated the magnitude of the crime, even for journalists who have covered these sorts of disasters before. Zeller and assistant news director Steve Linden both covered the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“It does give you pause for what this business is all about, which is providing a service and information to the public,” Zeller said.
“But what we have to deal with pales in comparison to what this community has to deal with,” he said.