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Leading the Way During Breaking News

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CNN’s Kyra Phillips moderates a panel discussion about breaking news strategies at the 2008 RTNDA conference in Las Vegas. Julie Chin of KNX radio in Los Angeles talked about leading her team during three days of uninterrupted coverage of wildfires last fall.

Local news directors at the forefront of some of last year’s biggest breaking news stories discussed their leadership during those trying times that left their newsrooms stretched thin. Shane Moreland was news director at WSLS when Seung-Hui Cho went on a rampage at Virgina Tech. He praised his two “one-man” band reporters, actually two women, who worked at the station’s bureau in Blacksburg. Moreland talked about the challenges in getting information from local authorities, only to see one authority “show up on ABC World News:” the network “bigfoot, Moreland called it

Moreland also talked about Cho’s controversial manifesto video sent to NBC News. As the NBC affiliate, Moreland found himself in a special situation. “We had a one pass run” of the video, he explained. “We got a lot of negative feedback, but felt it was part of the story.”

Lindsay Radford was assistant news director at KSTP when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Radford was eight months pregnant and about to get the top job. KSTP had planned to announce ND Chris Berg was losing his job on August 2. The August 1 collapse of the bridge delayed that news a few days. Radford said of her leadership “I did what journalism is all about.”

CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, moderator of the panel, had some parting words for the three dozen or so students in the room: be alert and be around. “When I was an intern in San Diego I was asked to run out to do an interview,” Phillips said. Turns out the interview was with Mother Teresa. “I still have a rosary she gave me.”


The RTNDA conference is running concurrently with the NAB Show, the world’s largest electronic media show covering the development, delivery and management of content for all media.

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Future newsers. Students attending the RTNDA conference pin up their resumes for news directors to see.

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Final preparations on the NAB Show floor Sunday. The exhibits open Monday with more 100,000 content and media professionals expected to attend.

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