In the country’s 85th television market, El Paso, when a major breaking news story like this one happens, it can put enormous pressure on the TV stations there to adequately cover the story. Here’s a picture of how the local stations and their owners responded.
A gunman with a military-style assault rifle shoots up a Walmart full of shoppers on Saturday morning in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 and injuring dozens in a city that normally sees that number of murders in a whole year.
In the country’s 85th television market, when a major breaking news story like this one happens, it can put enormous pressure on the TV stations there to adequately cover the story.
Michael Fabac, the director of news and marketing at News-Press & Gazette Co., which owns El Paso’s ABC affiliate, KVIA, said he was in communication with the station’s news director and general manager immediately.
Even though KVIA went into continuous on-air coverage that night, Fabac said “they didn’t need any reinforcements.”
Fabac said other News-Press & Gazette stations offered help if needed, but it just so happened that KVIA “was working on an annual telethon with the Humane Society, so they were staffed up in preparation for that.”
“They’re the market leader and as horrible as the story was, the station answered the call and the audience knew where to turn. I couldn’t be more proud of the way they handled the coverage.”
Over at KTSM, Nexstar’s NBC affiliate, Chris Berg, Nexstar’s senior director of local content development, said he was talking to KTSM’s news director right after the shooting happened.
Berg said KTSM’s entire newsroom staff came in to help in the coverage, which was “an amazing testament to the staff down there.”
Later in the afternoon, when it was confirmed that there were dozens of deaths, Berg realized the full magnitude of the story, and “flexed Nexstar muscle to make sure we had enough resources on the scene.”
Nexstar flew in two reporters from Austin, Texas, and dispatched a satellite truck, a helicopter and another news crew from its operation in Albuquerque, N.M., to help with the coverage.
KDBC and KFOX, Sinclair’s CBS and Fox affiliates respectively, went into continuous on-air coverage on Saturday, and on Sunday morning for two hours, then went into wall-to wall coverage Sunday night from 5 until 11.
Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s VP of news, said it’s a difficult challenge to cover a story of this magnitude in market 85, but said the stations “just did a terrific job. I found our coverage to be informative, comprehensive, and compelling. They know it’s important to be our best during a time of crisis.”
Livingston said Sinclair added resources to its El Paso stations (KDBC and KFOX) to help them cover this significant story, sending in two news crews from its station in San Antonio on Saturday, and a digital producer from Washington, D.C.
Three more news crews from other Sinclair stations were also dispatched last night to help throughout the week.
“We always say: no station stands alone in a crisis.”