In Fort Wayne, Ind., the abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley 30 years ago was the market’s big story. The killer kept the story in the news in the years that followed by taunting the community, dropping clues for police and leaving messages threatening to do it again. So on Sunday afternoon around […]
In Fort Wayne, Ind., the abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley 30 years ago was the market’s big story.
The killer kept the story in the news in the years that followed by taunting the community, dropping clues for police and leaving messages threatening to do it again.
So on Sunday afternoon around 1, when an email came into the newsroom at WPTA, the NBC-ABC affiliate in Fort Wayne owned by Quincy Media, that there was an arrest, and the suspect had confessed, the station had to scramble to cover the story.
I’ll let Jonathan Shelley, WPTA’s news director, take it from here.
As you might imagine, a TV station in Fort Wayne isn’t exactly “staffed to the max” Sunday afternoons.
I believe we had one person actually in the newsroom when the message was received (our weekend morning news team had left and the evening producers and talent come in at 2:30). In total, our “duopoly” (ABC21 and Fort Wayne’s NBC) typically has one MMJ, one photographer and an anchor for each of our two channels. We also have one producer for ABC21 and one for FWNBC, plus the weather and sports folks.
That’s about it. So what did we do?
We called just about everyone. That afternoon brought in the following reinforcements; news director, assignments manager, ABC exec. producer, NBC exec. producer, senior newscast director, creative services manager, weeknight anchor team on ABC, weeknight anchor team on NBC, 2 additional reporters/MMJs, and a photographer in addition to the regular weekend staff.
Three of our reporters filed stories (live shots and packages) that aired on both of our stations… but our anchors, including the weekend anchor, are all “channel exclusive.” Whatever they do airs ONLY on ABC21 OR Fort Wayne’s NBC — not both. Their reports were developed independently and, coupled with elements crafted by producers, allowed our two stations to deliver the most in-depth content, but also unique content on each platform.
In the two days that have followed, our channels have landed the only interview with the brother of the murder suspect, the first interview with executives from the private lab whose DNA work proved crucial to breaking the case and more exclusive elements. We’ve received tremendous feedback about the coverage, and it all started with a Sunday afternoon “all call” in market 111.