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Low Marks for WPIX Handling Kennedy Airport Breaking News

When is breaking news not breaking news?

In the case of WPIX, when it happens during their opening “11 stories in 11 minutes” segment. Just after 8 p.m. last night, word came into newsrooms across the city that two planes collided while taxiing at Kennedy Airport.

Fox 5/WNYW treated it as breaking news it was (not just by using those words on the screen). Anchors Ernie Anastos and Dari Alexander opened the newscast with the story, supplementing information available (no one was injured) with live video and reporting from the chopper. Fox 5 remained on that lead story for four minutes.

However, a check with Channel 11 and anchor Jodi Applegate shows a different result.

WPIX  fit the JFK story neatly into their “11 in 11″ production. Applegate did open with the runway story at “number one,” as she showed still photos from a website. But in their assembly line newscast, that was it–30 seconds. Applegate said Marvin Scott was on the scene, but they would get to him “in just a little while.” Instead, PIX moved along to “number two.”

As promised, WPIX returned to the Kennedy Airport story at 10:20 p.m., this time with Scott live on the scene for a 2 minute and 30 second report. Continuing with the “lack of urgency” theme, WPIX didn’t even have the breaking news graphic on the screen.

There would be no follow-up for WPIX during the remainder of the newscast.

Meantime, back at WNYW, after their initial four-minutes from Kennedy, Anastos and Alexander gave updates three times during the broadcast.

At 10:13 and 10:30, the anchors reiterated the breaking news to viewers. Then at 10:54, Fox 5 closed the newscast with a one-minute report from Andrea Day at the airport.

Just last week, WPIX news director Bill Carey told FishbowlNY, “We’re emboldened by going our own way with stories, getting away from the obvious stories that everybody does.”

Unfortunately, that goes for breaking news as well.

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