By the time swine flu (or whatever you call it) actually hits the Mid-Ohio Valley, we will probably have heard so much about it we may not even care.
Such is the 24/7 news media, which spends so much time on "live" coverage, that it doesn't do what I had hoped it would when CNN began: put the news in greater context.
But this blog actually isn't about swine flu. It's about two "emergencies" which happened this week in Wood County.
One was the bomb scare at Williamstown High School. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook), Wood County Schools has faced that so often with Parkersburg and Parkersburg High Schools that it has learned how to deal with it.
The other was what some are calling the "Great Baking Soda Scare" on Camden Avenue. The good news is that neither of these turned out to be serious. And while WTAP did live coverage, both on the air and on this web channel, it wasn't wall-to-wall, blanket coverage which put our broadcast day on the back burner. In other words, in my opinion (and it is MY opinion!), we didn't overdo it.
It reminds me of a situation I actually saw unfold on a Columbus TV station while "checking channels" more than 10 years ago.
We hadn't been through 9-11 yet, but the Oklahoma City Bombing had happened a few years earlier.
A "suspicious package" was found outside a Columbus business complex, and the fire department and bomb squad were alerted.
It also set the local TV stations in motion, with their "live" trucks and helicopters. They broke into programming to air the unfolding story, with helicopter shots and commentary.
So what did the "suspicious package" contain? A dozen donuts that had been left by a bakery for one of the offices in the complex.
OK, the response was understandable. But could the station have held off on reporting all this until the outcome was known? My guess is it was concerned its competition (which also had a helicopter and live capability) would "scoop" them, so the decision was, "get on the air as fast as you can".
I'm not against competition. Competition is, for the most part, good. But getting the story right...and determining that there IS a story...and not panicking people in the process...also is good.
I believe we reported both "scares" this week...both of which had happy outcomes...in a way that properly informed our viewers.
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