Tonight marks Day 3 of the national media coverage of the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina– this week’s tornadoes that swept away entire neighborhoods in several Southern states, including Alabama.
A day after coming here to Tuscaloosa to see firsthand the devastating blow our community has taken in Wednesday’s tornado, President Obama challenged those at the White House Correspondents Dinner to not forget about the story of recovery that is just beginning here and in communities in Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder how long the networks will commit the resources to cover the aftermath of this latest tornado outbreak?
After Katrina, NBC and several of the other networks set up special bureaus in New Orleans. NPR did follow-up stories for months after the devastating floods.
When will the national media move on to the next big story and spotlight shift from West Alabama’s commercial center?
NBC Leads the Pack
Last night the crews from NBC produced a one-hour special of its award-winning Dateline NBC that set the tone for kind of “documentary-type” examinations of the deadly tornado outbreak this week.
The army of NBC producers found the people directly affected by the storm and went beyond the quick network “wrap-up” news pieces that Brian Williams pitched to when he “field-anchored” NBC Nightly News from Tuscaloosa last night at 5:30 p.m. (Central Time)
Tonight’s Saturday edition of the top-ranked network evening broadcast opened on a camera shot of the back of anchor Lester Holt through the window of a blown out SUV as he started anchoring another newscast from here in T’town. (A great camera technique to show my students)
Despite a lead package from one of my favorite broadcast journalists, John Yang, NBC had one glitch– a video mismatch in one of its pieces on storm victim Reginald Epps.
CNN Features Samaritan’s Purse
Along with doing its updates on CNN Newsroom most of the day, offered its own special edition of CNN Newsroom on natural disasters (Though, I missed seeing this one)
The Reverend Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, appeared on CNN today appealing with volunteers who would sign up with Samaritan’s Purse, which will actual sign agreement to rebuild storm victim’s homes. (Rev. Graham was also on the FoxNewsChannel today)
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a supporter of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
I’m sure The Weather Channel will be doing something in the form of a “Storm Stories” type of presentation on the disaster that was this week.
The most well-known personality at NBC’s sister cable network, Jim Cantore did a short update from here in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.
National News for the Long Haul?
But, the long-term, consistent updates, the things that keep this story on the minds of Americans, is what is sorely needed.
It’s the kind of journalism that I want to see, and perhaps get involved in myself.
We’ll see what happens in the next 72 hours.
As the University of Alabama reopens Monday, the emotional toll of this tragedy begins to be felt by those who are helping out, the funerals and memorials services of the dozens of victims take place, we’ll see what the national media decide to do.