This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Fri., Feb. 22)
02/24/08 02:18 PM
By ED BARK
The tragic death of Dallas police officer Victor Lozada, who crashed Friday morning while helping to escort Hillary Clinton's motorcade, obviously figured prominently in newscasts throughout the day.
It remained the lead story on two stations' late night newscasts while two others opted to first give viewers "Breaking News" of a warehouse fire in Azle.
Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all should be commended for their solid and compassionate coverage of Lozada's death. But yes, some were better at it than others.
NBC5's Ellen Goldberg, who's quickly establishing herself as a savvy and resourceful newcomer, had the most affecting interview with Lozada's distraught best friend, Sr. Cpl. Robert Garcia. WFAA8's Gary Reaves and CBS11's J.D. Miles also talked to Garcia. Fox4 overlooked that key component of the story on its featured Friday 9 p.m. newscast, where it has more time than its rivals.
Three of the four stations -- again NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 -- also had companion late night newscast stories on the soccer team whose players included Lozada's 10-year-old son, David. His dad was one of the team's three coaches. Fox4 followed their leads with a Saturday story on the team.
NBC5 and WFAA8 topped their newscasts with team coverage of Lozada's death. Fox4 and CBS11 first went to the three-alarm warehouse fire in Azle, where two firefighters and a witness suffered minor injuries. The Peacock had just a brief mention of the fire while WFAA8 ignored it all together. The latter arguably was an error of omission.
Fox4 and WFAA8 gave viewers an opportunity to express condolences to Lozada's family on their Web sites. By 2 p.m. Sunday, 25 had done so on Fox4 and 39 on WFAA8.
The ABC station also made the somewhat controversial decision to add a Web poll asking, "How do you think Senator Clinton handled this tragedy?"
A great majority of the 107 respondents (by 2 p.m. Sunday) praised her comportment. But others questioned the propriety of such a poll. Said one commenter: "How dare WFAA manipulate the news, using Cpl. Lozada's death as an easy way to scrutinize a political candidate . . . You insult me as a viewer."
Another commenter used a coarse description of Mrs. Clinton that would never be allowed on the air. The station ought to consider removing it.
And In Other News . . .
NBC5 had one of its best newscasts in recent memory -- and all without a single violent crime story. That may be a first, but shouldn't be a last.
The station's solid work included Brett Johnson's story on the busting of a major identity thief ring in Richardson and Meredith Land's followup interview with the pregnant widow of a big rig driver who died in a heavily covered Nov. 15th wreck.
Their first child, a girl, is due in early July, and Sarah Webb says she hopes for a Fourth of July delivery.
"Daddy went out with a bang and baby comes in with a bang. That's what I really want," she told Land. Sounds a little insensitive, but you had to see the story.
***WFAA8 also weighed in with some worthy reporting. Reaves returned with a second contribution, this time on a tough new illegal immigrant law in Oklahoma that has many fleeing to Texas. Some employers say the state's economy is being severely compromised as a result.
The station's Chris Hawes offered an eye-opening, up-close look at what's become the annual "School Campout" in Arlington. Some parents already have rented RVs and claimed spots in line for a March 3rd enrollment day that allows them to handpick their child's school. Meanwhile, the district's school superintendent is looking for ways to put an end to this jockeying for position.
***On CBS11, reporter Stephanie Lucero had an interesting piece on a Salvadoran family that illegally settled in North Texas after being violently threatened by a gang of thugs demanding payment of a "livestock tax." Authorities quickly deported the father, who was murdered in what appeared to be retribution. His widow and their children, who have lived in the U.S. since the middle of last year, now also are facing deportation. But their attorney is arguing that this also could be a death sentence for them.
***Fox4 continued to follow the story of a college prep school whose owner, Karen Dillard, is being accused of illegally obtaining copyrighted SAT tests.
"We first reported this last night (Thursday)," said anchor Steve Eagar. That's true. But NBC5's Goldberg had the story on Wednesday night's 10 p.m. newscast, including an interview with Dillard. WFAA8 also briefly touched on the story during Wednesday's late nighter, but didn't include Dillard's side.
Fox4's nightly "Viewers' Voice" segment included a variety of gripes from viewers complaining about the station's political coverage.
"You can definitely tell who Fox4 is voting for -- (Barack) Obama," one of 'em said.
In reality, sources within Fox4 say the station has been stiffed by both Obama and fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, who have declined to do any one-one-one satellite interviews with Fox4 because of their distaste for cable's Fox News Channel. That's small-minded on their part. Fox4 is part of the same corporation as Fox News Channel, but its local news coverage marches to its own beat.
***WFAA8 solicited viewer email on sports anchor Dale Hansen's light blue plaid sportcoat to determine whether it's "ugly" as charged by weatherman Pete Delkus.
Hansen said the verdict was running seven to one in favor of ugly, with one viewer telling him that "Verne Lundquist (Hansen's long-ago predecessor) called and he wants his jacket back."
Anchor Gloria Campos said she liked Hansen's attire, but "she's been drinking," cracked Delkus.
"Not too much," Campos retorted. "It's early yet."
Yo ho ho. Anchor John McCaa, ever the newscast's bulwark, again shook his head while grinning gamely. The poor guy oftentimes just can't help being Zeppo Marx in the company of Groucho, Harpo and Chico.