Monday, August 28, 2006

Competing Leads

Today was the sort of news day that sends major, major stories into competition with each other. For me the interest in this day began yesterday morning in Chicago where I had been attending the national Society of Professional Journalists conference. The day began with news of the plane crash in Lexington. Knowing Kentucky was a short six hour drive, I phoned ABC News Radio in New York to see if I could lend my services.

The network was already sending in a correspondent from Miami, an indication that despite the hurricane on approach toward the Gulf, the crash story could be equally as prominent. With other travel plans back to Missouri, I wasn’t sure which tine of the fork in the road I would take. After being put on standby by ABC I waited. Ultimately they said, “go ahead and return to Missouri, but if we decide to go into expanded coverage don’t be surprised if we call.” So began a six hour trip, albeit not the one I wanted to make.

Back to the idea of competing leads...LA-based ABC News correspondent Alex Stone, who’s covering the one-year Hurricane Katrina anniversary put it this way in a phone conversation with me: “it’s going to be one of those days where were saying ‘It’s the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but first lets turn our attention to another hurricane that’s moving into the Gulf even as we speak.’” In the news business we sometimes refer to that sort of scenario as a delayed lead.

It was one of those types of days that make one wonder: when will it end?, before a sudden reminder that news is ubiquitous and never stops. Days, however, made up of a major disaster’s first anniversary; an approaching hurricane; a plane crash; a dropped high-profile murder case; wars and other tensions are hard to come by.

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